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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Enterprise applications vendor JD Edwards & Co is gearing up for a fresh onslaught on the market on the back of the multi-component Web Services-capable JD Edwards 5.0 release and an increased focus on vertical markets.

Having announced its intention last month to brand all its offerings under the JD Edwards name, the Denver, Colorado-based company is now turning its attention to its strategic direction and increased functionality.

In terms of strategy, it is pursuing three key themes according to CEO Bob Dutkowsky. First, the company is increasing its vertical market focus. Although it will continue to offer ERP, SCM, CRM, SRM BI and collaborative applications plus integration technology, it will also focus on developing and marketing solutions specifically geared to addressing end-to-end business processes that target specific business problems within its target markets of manufacturing, distribution, project management and asset intensive businesses.

Rather than marketing technology such as collaborative software or CRM, it will go to its customers with a selection of components that will solve an identified pain point. Dutkowsky said this represents a shift in strategy away from its traditional approach whereby it offered generic solutions and then tried to point them toward vertical markets.

The second theme represents a continuation of its move away from a monolithic software suite, where the underlying architecture - and pricing strategy - meant that customers ended up buying shelfware, to a component-based architecture, which it calls "services-oriented". This describes an internet-based architecture that builds on the existing applications base, to take the JD Edwards offering into the Web Services space by exposing applications to web clients and enabling the sharing of business logic between JD Edwards applications and with external software.

By allowing customers to buy and implement selected components as and when they are needed, it hopes to build a reputation as a vendor that can supply the right flexible mix of components to enable customers to gain a rapid ROI before moving to the next stage of a project. The value-based pricing strategy that was originally introduced in February supports this move because it enables component-based pricing where customers only buy as much as they need.

The third strategic thread is its intention to pursue an evolutionary upgrade path so customers can develop at their own pace. Consequently, the XPI integration platform has been extended to accommodate the evolving Web Services standards. The company said that by extending its existing integration platform and enabling multiple ways of using Web Services technology including using native Java, making direct calls to business logic, exposing business logic, and enabling integration among application components, customers can operate and integrate even where they have multiple versions and implementations of JD Edwards applications.

As regards product functionality, the company has made a series of enhancements to ERP 8.0, geared towards service industries such as construction, real estate and professional services. New functionality in Enterprise Asset Management, Workforce Management, Project Management and Real Estate Management areas is aimed at optimizing employee resources and the effective management of high-value assets.

Additional functionality enhancements in ERP 8.0 and the SCM Advanced Planning application are targeted at manufacturing and distribution industries and are designed to improve forecasting and improve cost-cutting optimization capabilities.

There are also new integration capabilities for mid-market and large enterprises These include Tactical Network Optimization (TNO) - an efficiency-enhancing production optimization product specifically designed for the mid-market; improved web capabilities in Production and Distribution Planning (PDP) to expand collaborative capabilities to large numbers of customers and suppliers; new functions in the Warehouse Management application designed to reduce material and labor costs; and improvements in the Demand Consensus module to improve forecasting capabilities.

JD Edwards is preparing for a period of major activity in the market, and said it plans more releases over the next two years than were introduced over the last 25 years.

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