For many years it seemed as though the domain of modelling in an SAP environment was the preserve of only one tool. IDS-Scheer, with their ARIS tool, was the undisputed dominant player. Whether this was because of both companies being German, whether it was to do with the cross shareholding, or simply great sales and marketing by IDS-Scheer, other vendors fought shy of fighting the ARIS dominance. But now it seems that is changing.
Ever since the acquisition of IDS-Scheer by Software AG, there has been a sense of opportunity among other vendors. The last 18 months have seen several vendors talk about that opportunity and consider entering the fray. I know from my own experience that, in some cases, senior management within vendors has been split on whether to enter the market or not.
Historically, vendors such as MEGA International and Nimbus Partners have dabbled, but not really appeared to make great headway. Casewise, too, has in the past attempted, without great success, to address the SAP market, but did announce last year that they were planning to re-enter the fray with their Casewise4ERP offering.
Today though, things have changed. IBM, iGrafx and QPR are addressing the needs of the SAP community head on. QPR originally partnered with Nobultec Ltd to provide the interfacing between the company's modelling offering and SAP, and then they purchased the company.
Meanwhile, IBM turned to UK-based Silwood Associates to provide the required interfaces for their System Architect product. iGrafx, meanwhile, chose to partner with the German vendor Transware.
While the opportunity to tray and service more than 100,000 organizations using SAP in more than 120 countries is obviously a factor, vendors also have their eye on other prizes - with Oracle and other Software AG competitors as targets, as well as SAP themselves. Most vendors believe that Oracle and the others will increasingly be looking at alternative business modelling solutions for their own practices and systems, so the prize of an illusive major OEM contract is also driving them forward.
The acquisition of Nobultec by QPR was definitely a smart move and surely increases the market value of both Transware and Silwood. Some years ago another company aimed to act as a bridge between tools. That vendor, Software One, was quickly snapped up by Oracle and thus others were prevented from easy interfacing between tools. It remains to be seen whether history might yet repeat itself in this space.
One thing we can be sure of is that SAP customers have never had such choice before and, for them at least, the opportunities to reduce the cost of the modelling aspects of implementation will be pleasing.
At the time of writing, no particular SAP-related deals had been announced although IBM is understood to have closed some SAP/System Architect deals within 7 days of their announcement! IBM, iGrafx and QPR all have products being demonstrated and shown; as yet I am not aware of Casewise having a commercial product, but rumour has it the company may well have recently closed a $1m deal as a result of their Casewise4ERP offering.
It remains to be seen which, if any, of these vendors may take over the mantle of "dominance" in the SAP space, but having cost effective, easy to use options and, most of all, choice, has to be a good thing.
SAP customers should, for the most part though, remain cautious, as many of these offerings come as a result of partner technology, which may or may not be available in the market on a longer term basis. As has been stated, even IBM are offering via partner technology.