Welcome!

Artificial Intelligence Authors: William Schmarzo, Progress Blog, Kevin Jackson, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Artificial Intelligence

@CloudExpo: Article

The Cloud ERP Shortlist for Manufacturers

The market for SaaS manufacturing software solutions will expand considerably in the coming years

Manufacturing software vendors are making aggressive moves to the cloud. In the past year alone, four vendors rolled out a full suite Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings for the industry. That brings the current tally of SaaS players in the manufacturing arena to five: Epicor Express, Infor SyteLine, NetSuite, Plex, and SAP Business ByDesign.

The buzz around the cloud has manufacturers asking if a cloud solution is right for them. To help answer that question, I'll explore the features and functionality each vendor offers, and the ideal target market for each. Many more vendors are redesigning their software for the cloud, but I thought I would spotlight the five that are already there.

First, here's a brief introduction to the vendors.

In May of 2010, Epicor released Epicor Manufacturing Express Edition (Epicor Express), the SaaS version of their Epicor 9 product. Their SaaS offering was designed specifically with smaller job shops and manufacturers in mind. Currently, 70 of Epicor's 9,500 manufacturing clients are working in the cloud on Epicor Express. The product is currently targeting a 20 to 30 day period to go live. That should be attainable for small job shops without complex data migration needs.

Infor moved their flagship SyteLine product to the cloud in October of 2010. Of their 70,000 customers, mostly manufacturers, 800 have put some of their production in the cloud. Infor takes pride in the flexibility of their .NET architecture and their ability to serve mixed-mode manufacturers. In future releases, Infor plans to expand multi-site capabilities, and expand their mobile applications.

NetSuite began pursuing light assembly and less complex discrete manufacturing customers in 2007. In June of 2010, they launched their first full-suite manufacturing offering to target mid-market manufacturers. As a pure SaaS company, NetSuite's manufacturing clients all operate in the cloud. NetSuite currently supports multiple sites, multiple languages and currencies. In future releases, they plan to expand upon this functionality and target more complex manufacturing industries.

Plex was the first SaaS player to target the manufacturing industry with their 2001 cloud-computing debut of Plex Online. At their start, Plex targeted the automotive industry. Since then, the company has expanded into several other verticals. As a pure SaaS vendor, all of Plex's 589 manufacturing clients are in the cloud. Future releases will focus on expanding global capabilities, and developing functionality for more vertical manufacturing markets.

The July 2010 release of Business ByDesign 2.5 marked the on-premise ERP powerhouse's first SaaS move into the manufacturing market. The product hosts 250 customers, but we don't have a detailed count for how many customers are manufacturers. Regardless, SAP has tremendous manufacturing domain expertise to incorporate into the product over time. In future releases, SAP will focus on expanding their functionality to cover mixed-mode manufacturing and engineer-to-order.

What Products Serve Your Size Business?
The sweet spot for these SaaS vendors is small to mid-sized manufacturers who don't have the resources to implement more complex, expensive on-premise solutions. Epicor Express finds its niche among manufacturers with less than $50 million in revenue. Plex and Infor target a slightly higher end of the market, providing offerings for manufacturers with up to $500 million in revenue. Another way to measure target market is by number of employees. The table below breaks down the target market based on number of employees.

Support for Manufacturing Modes
The type of manufacturing mode a software package can support is a great indicator of the depth of functionality it offers. Notably missing from the modes supported by these SaaS vendors is process manufacturing. Process manufacturing is tricky to support because it requires complex formulas and involves a wide range of variability in production. The software to support these modes also has special requirements, such as material management and process modeling. Below is table indicating which modes are supported by each product.

Industries Served
Manufacturing mode support determines what industries these SaaS solutions can serve. Instead of trying to take on process manufacturing industries immediately, SaaS manufacturers chose "safer" industries to serve first. By serving simpler industries like consumer products or industrial machinery, SaaS vendors can build a steady revenue stream, and develop for other industries later.

Enterprise Application Breadth
Because of their heritage of offering functionally complete on-premises products, most of these vendors are able to offer a fairly rich set of applications in their cloud solutions. Therefore, in addition to manufacturing resource planning (MRP), most of these vendors also offer functionality for customer relationship management (CRM), human resources (HR), business intelligence (BI), etc. The table below illustrates the applications offered in each system.

SaaS Manufacturing Moving Forward
These vendors already offer impressive functionality in their full suite ERP cloud software. But cloud software still lags behind the functionality of on-premise systems. Most on-premise vendors could have checked all the boxes above, and then some. This gap in functional parity is sure to narrow in the coming years as more vendors invest in the cloud platform.

The growth of Plex, the SaaS manufacturing veteran, should serve as an indication of the success cloud vendors can have in the manufacturing industry. In 2010, Plex posted a record 27% increase in revenue. This is strong growth during a time when most on-premise vendors are losing licensing sales.

We believe that this sort of growth will continue and potentially accelerate. The market for SaaS manufacturing software solutions will expand considerably in the coming years.

•   •   •

You can view Derek Singleton's original article on the Software Advice website at The Cloud ERP Shortlist for Manufacturers.

More Stories By Derek Singleton

Derek Singleton recently graduated from Occidental College with a degree in political science. He writes about various topics related to ERP software and covers the manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain management software markets.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader Sergey Grebnov provided an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.