by Thomas Wailgum

ERP Vendors Turn on Bravado to Steal Customers

Mar 01, 2010
Enterprise Applications

ERP vendors love marketing slogans that tout an easy journey for customers from entrenched, rival vendors.

Switching ERP vendors is the ultimate slap in the face to the vendor whose software and services are being left behind. For the victorious software vendor, it’s a celebratory coup worthy of a multitude of chest-thumping press releases.

The winners, in fact, love nothing more than to tout a customer switch—and the bigger the customer company that’s switching, the better for the PR and sales efforts.

One of the more memorable vendor marketing efforts to get customers to transition from one vendor to another was SAP’s “Safe Passage” program.

The 2005 initiative centered on SAP’s purchase of TomorrowNow, the third-party maintenance and support provider for Oracle ERP apps. Safe Passage “provides companies a safe passage away from the uncertainties arising out of the acquisition of those software brands by Oracle Corporation and a clear road map to assist these companies in evolving to the next generation of business software,” noted SAP’s press release.

SAP’s “Safe Passage” program turned out to be more like a “Jittery Journey,” though at one point SAP claimed several hundred companies had made the switch. (Of course, the SAP-TomorrowNow relationship ended very badly. You can read the whole saga here.)

SAP’s announcement today, regarding its new ERP customer 3M, should fit the bill, since 3M is a long-time Oracle/PeopleSoft customer. Early indications are that SAP execs are declining to flex their marketing muscles over this win.

Regardless, other enterprise software vendors have forged migratory software-switching programs. Most recent, SaaS ERP vendor NetSuite has rolled out its “Crossroads” campaign to move SAP customers to NetSuite’s wares. (“Crossroads” appears to come from the fact that many SAP customers are right now deciding whether to do some serious upgrades with their R/3 apps.)

A NetSuite press release touts a recent victory: Vertro, an Internet search company, replaced its SAP BusinessOne installation with NetSuite’s OneWorld. Said Mike Cutler, Vertro CFO: “SAP BusinessOne wasn’t the right fit for our changing needs.” Layeth the smackdown, Michael!!

Infor has also received some attention for its “Down with Big ERP” campaign that targets large and expensive SAP and Oracle installs.

In reality, of course, some of these ERP transitions can come with about as much ease and serenity as an illegal border crossing from Mexico into the United States—under the white-hot August sun, in 100-degree temperatures. The entrenched legacy innerworkings involved can be overwhelming.

So in the spirit of these marketing initiatives, here are a couple suggested slogans for ERP and CRM vendors to consider:

From SAP to Oracle, or from Oracle to SAP: “Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other”

From Siebel CRM (Oracle) to “Make Larry Ellison Crazy Mad”

From QuickBooks to SAP: “Grow Up”

From PeopleSoft ERP to Workday SaaS ERP: “Irony”

(since Dave Duffield founded both companies)

From SAP/Oracle to Infor: “We’ve Got Bruce Richardson Now! We’re Cool!”

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