We recently covered trends affecting the ERP startup space. This time around we profile a few of these promising cloud ERP startups. Some are squarely in the ERP camp, while others offer apps related to ERP.
"The bigger vendors are increasingly trying to be everything to everyone, which creates opportunities for startups to fill unmet needs in specific industries or functions," said Eric Kimberling, managing partner at Panorama Consulting Solutions. "In other words, they are often times able to use their focus to uniquely position themselves compared to the larger players."
Selectica develops software to improve the effectiveness of sales and contracting processes. It is utilized by companies such as Cisco, Fujitsu and IBM. Selectica CPQ for NetSuite combines a constraint-modeling interface, a product and sales configuration engine and guided selling capabilities that can be incorporated into NetSuite ERP. This tool sifts through product catalogs with thousands of SKUs, recommends compatible products and services during configuration, and disseminates real-time product and pricing information across sales channels throughout the process.
"Companies can also use the tool to discover up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, and protect margins by setting sales rules that control sales discounting, bundling, and other promotional pricing," said Kamal Ahluwalia, Selectica's chief marketing officer.
Zoho is primarily focused on SMBs, and offers apps ranging from email to collaboration, CRM, accounting HR, support, business intelligence (BI), marketing and more. Instead of going to different vendors and assembling these applications, Zoho assembles the applications into a pre-integrated package that SMBs can implement without tying up internal personnel or requiring expensive system integration work. There is also a free version for all applications. Pricing varies by application, but typically costs around $12 an app per month.
"SMBs don't have the IT resources to deploy, manage and maintain various pieces of software they need to run their business," said Raju Vegesna, an evangelist at Zoho. "With limited resources, they need firms that act as an outsourced IT department. Just like they pay for utilities monthly, they pay for using software services from vendors."
The Anaplan platform includes cloud-based modeling and data processing capabilities to enable anyone to model their business, analyze historical data, align future plans and execute processes in a collaborative online workspace. Finance, sales and operations use it to do things like align sales territories and quotas, optimize marketing promotions and perform financial budgeting and forecasting. Anaplan's in-memory modeling engine called Hyperblock can handle complex business rules, allowing a business manager to update or change models ranging from one to 1 billion cells from any kind of device.
"Legacy ERP and BI vendors are stuck in an old world that is focused on automation, process, and rear-view mirror reporting,” said Fred Laluyaux, CEO of Anaplan. "We are putting the 'P' back in ERP."
Zuora's core product, Z-Business, is categorized as a relationship business management system. It lets companies better manage billing, commerce and finance systems and processes. It is utilized to launch new products, grow the bottom line, automate processes and gain visibility into the metrics.
The company can't stop talking about the subscription economy -- moving from in-house software and upfront costs to a model based on pay-per-use and monthly billings.
"We see transition happening in the consumer world with Spotify, Netflix, Zipcar, Birchbox and others, so why shouldn't it be the same for enterprises," asked Brian Bell, chief marketing officer of Zuora. "ERP systems are diminishing due to their inability to meet the new set of core business needs. They weren't designed for recurring revenue like subscription-based models, where the customer relationship is at the center, where flexible pricing is your competitive edge, and a new set of metrics are required."
Glovia International is a subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited. It provides ERP for businesses of any size, with an emphasis on manufacturers. Glovia G2 is designed for engineer-to-order, make-to-order, high volume and mixed-mode manufacturing environments throughout the product lifecycle.
Rootstock Software is geared toward manufacturing and supply chain functions. It is built on the foundation of Salesforce.com's Force.com cloud computing platform. Rootstock encompasses real-time management of manufacturing and supply chain operations as well as sales and accounting apps by Salesforce.com and FinancialForce.com.
The company bills its offering as social ERP. It comprises several elements which include order management, inventory control, engineering, purchasing, production, manufacturing resource planning, financial reporting, general ledger, accounts payable/receivable and more. Kenandy's target audience is companies that design, manufacture and distribute products.
Kenandy's pitch is that it has built a complete ERP platform from the ground up that is cloud-ready as opposed to being erected on top of legacy apps that have been jury-rigged to run in the cloud.
While the big vendors like SAP and Oracle have been struggling to cloud-enable their traditional application architectures, Kenandy and other startups on this list began with the latest programming languages and cloud technologies and so have something of an advantage -- at least for now.
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).