Unit 4 has a couple of interesting ERP solution product lines. Coda is a solid mid-to-high end financial software solution. Agresso is an ERP vendor that specializes in businesses that frequently undergo change (even lots of change). Unit 4 even owns a big chunk of the FinancialForce joint venture with Salesforce.com. Recently, the Coda and Agresso product lines have had a number of additions and enhancements to their product lines. These upgrades were at the functional, architectural and positioning level and they take the products’ capabilities up a couple of big notches.
Here are some highlights:
Color Your App – This new capability permits Agresso and Coda users to integrate any number of complementary application solutions with these product lines. What’s interesting here is that changes in one solution are fairly well protected from changes in another. Three solutions were recently highlighted for analysts. Sustain4 helps companies monitor the environment performance of their firm. Topaz is a learning solution but it’s not a traditional e-Learning solution per se. Topaz is great for helping users understand changes in software and their business, especially for those users experiencing a changing business and IT environment (a particular sweet spot for Agresso). This solution may, if my notes are correct, have its roots in a technology that Unit4 acquired from Datango AG. This solution is noteworthy now as workforces are due to experience significant change as the economy recovers. With new workers entering a company’s workforce, error rates (and the significant costs to correct them) and productivity losses will grow unless companies address continual software training. Ocra is another set of software that aids in financial consolidation and cash management. Bottom line: Color Your App is sort of an Integration as a Service or Platform as a Service capability that is bringing new business capabilities to both Coda and Agresso product lines quickly and easily. Putting it and other new applications together with the core Unit4 solutions makes the power and attractiveness of the solutions grow materially.
Coda Cloud Rebel – This capability permits Coda users to deploy the software on any number of cloud or in-house configurations. These include: private cloud/on-premise, private cloud/off-premise, or, public cloud/off-premise. Coda has incorporated VM options for private and hybrid deployments and has also created a Unit4 Hybrid Computing Centre to host solutions for those customers desiring as such. Unit4 is using the data centers of Telecity for its hosted solutions. Coda hosted solutions are ISO-27001 certified. (Note: I believe Agresso has offered alternate delivery models for its solutions for some time now.)
Unit 4 also shared some interesting statistics on how their solutions fare vs. competitors. Some of those figures indicated that:
• Unit4 customers experienced materially lower total implementation costs • Software modifications (post-implementation) take half as long to implement as those of competitors • Other vendors products require twice as much external assistance in making changes
Finally, Agresso unveiled “Route 66”. This was a pleasant surprise to me as 99% of software vendors I deal with discuss the product functions and features of their product ad nauseum. For once, we have a vendor who is addressing the experiential impact of their solution on its users (versus in the context of how the solution affects the vendor!). Agresso is discussing its solutions in the context of the independence they offer their customers. That independence may manifest itself in the freedom to choose the products, delivery model, timing of business/solution change, etc. and they’re making it easier for customers to pick and choose what and when they alter their journey. This is in contrast to the take-it-or-leave-it requirements of some vendors (Note: this is a friction point with some cloud solution users) or the demands of other vendors to make customers do a force march upgrade when it suits the vendor (and not the customer). I found this positioning to be refreshing, much needed and may likely be well-received by future customers.
Unit4 has literally thousands of customers but is not as well known in the U.S. as it is in Europe. Hopefully, Route 66 will change that.