Friday, September 4, 2009

Enterprise Software Mergers and Acquisitions

If you run an ERP system, software industry consolidation is a very important issue. Your entire business is running on your application and you have placed a long term and expensive investment in your ERP vendor, not only in where the company's products are going but also in the very company itself. Once you buy, you are normally locked in for about a decade.

In the last few years there has been a tremendous amount of mergers and acquisitions in the enterprise software industry. The turmoil of the recent large downturns in the economy, has affected the manufacturing industry. Adding insult to injury, the chaos in both ERP solutions and solution providers has created a challenging predicament for manufacturers as they adjust to a myriad of changes in the global marketplace and also in their own businesses.

Fourth Shift has a colourful history. It was acquired by AremisSoft in 2001, a public company that had already bought some hospitality software vendors Softbrands. AremisSoft filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2002. After some reorganization SoftBrand emerged as an independent company.

Fourth Shift->->AremisSoft->->SoftBrands->->Infor

One of its flagship products is Fourth Shift manufacturing which has dwindling sales. Recognizing the potential of Fourth Shift in the SMI market, it makes a special arrangement in 2004 with SAP to integrate/interface to its manufacturing suite to SAP Business One. Business One is SAP's small company system, which does not have extensive manufacturing systems functionality requires to serve small manufacturer of its own.

SoftBrands has stopped selling the non-SAP flavor Fourth Shift completely some time ago. Its own website and literature indicated a departure from selling the traditional Fourth Shift application but that it now focuses on Fourth Shift for SAP Business One.

Industry observers are on the consensus that SoftBrands are hoping that they will be acquired by SAP. But after batting eyelids for a number of years without response from SAP, a new suitor in Golden Gate and privately held business software company Infor Corp then becomes the knight in shining armour to acquired SoftBrands.

What is there in it for infor? She already owns many ERPs for manufacturing on all Tiers level. Perhaps the acquisition is for SoftBrands suites of Hospitality software.

Will Infor carry on the Fourth Shift's special arrangement with SAP thereby promoting and enhancing competitor ERP sales?

Will small manufacturer that is already on SAPB1 + Fourth Shift get further support and enhancement for the manufacturing portion?

Well you guess is as good as mine.

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