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Business Applications

By Aaron Tan, ZDNet AsiaSome consolidation is generally good for the industry and the technology buyers.But with Oracle's proposed acquisition of Siebel, Asian businesses scouting for software packages that help manage financial, customer relationship and supply chain information are left with fewer choices.

By Aaron Tan, ZDNet Asia

Some consolidation is generally good for the industry and the technology buyers.

But with Oracle's proposed acquisition of Siebel, Asian businesses scouting for software packages that help manage financial, customer relationship and supply chain information are left with fewer choices.

One of the industry's most competitive markets, the business applications space, which includes accounting, (ERP) enterprise resource planning, CRM (customer relationship management), BI (business intelligence, SFA (sales force automation) and SCM (supply chain management) software, continued to consolidate in 2005. The major powerhouses turned up the pressure by offering entire infrastructure stacks to lower the costs of integrating otherwise disparate parts of the IT infrastructure.

All-in-one powerhouses SAP and Oracle--the usual suspects in the business applications space--made it to ZDNet Asia's Top Tech Index, along with BI vendor Cognos and CAD/CAM specialist Autodesk.

Also among ZDNet Asia's Top Tech 50 companies, Microsoft has refocused its efforts in the business applications space to carve for itself a slice of the lucrative apps pie. The Redmond giant, however, is not aiming for SAP and Oracle's enterprise customers. The company has said it is gunning for the small and midsized customers, a far bigger market than the enterprise space, at least in Asia.

Another ZDNet Asia Top Tech 50 company, CRM vendor Siebel will soon be swallowed by Oracle, and it'll be up to the on-demand guys like Salesforce.com to sweep up the money in the small and medium-sized markets.

Salesforce.com didn't make it to ZDNet Asia's Top Tech 50 list, but the San Francisco, Calif-based company ranks among the top 10 fastest-growing companies, based on average percentage net income growth over four years.

Although NetSuite--founded by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and the only other CRM on-demand player--is visibly left out of our index, the vendor plans to grow its Asian footprint, starting with a direct presence in Singapore.

According to Gartner, ERP (enterprise resource planning) revenues in the Asia-Pacific region will hit US$542.5 million in 2008, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent through 2008.

The CRM market is more promising. The analyst firm indicated that the Asia-Pacific CRM market will rack up positive growth every year through 2008, recording a compound annual growth rate of 9.6 percent.

But it's not all hunky dory. The business applications vendors continue to grapple with challenges and peculiarities in the regional market, including the lack of customer focus and the negative perceptions by businesses of failed CRM deployments.