Marked by the ERP tattoo

Selecting an ERP system is a bit like getting a tattoo, you could be stuck for life.

Sure tattoos can be removed, and ERP systems replaced, but it isn't a welcome procedure that a sane person willingly engages in very often. ERP migration, like tattoo removal, is hard and painful.

I'm betting tattoos are removed a little more often than organizations change ERP systems, but that's not what the likes of SAP and Oracle want us to believe.

They say migration can, and does, work which is why they are so desperately preying on each other's customer base.

It began during the Oracle takeover of PeopleSoft (and JD Edwards) when SAP announced a Safe Passage Program to lure a few 'nervous nellys' away from Oracle.

SAP wanted to exploit the uncertainty of a Larry Ellison merger and did so by pitching a 75 percent trade-in credit to migrate to SAP.

Not wanting to be outdone by its German rival, Oracle has launched a program of its own: the Off Sap migration program, which features a 100 percent trade-in credit.

And Oracle is bringing in the big guns for the big sell.

Only this week Oracle president Charles Phillips arrived in Australia boasting that 40 customers have already made the switch from SAP to Oracle.

He claims 94 percent of Oracle e-business suite customers have upgraded to 11i while only 6 percent of SAP's customer base has upgraded to mySAP ERP.

But it isn't just Oracle talking big. SAP insiders have assured me 'off-the-record' that a number of local Oracle/PeopleSoft customers are looking to make the switch to SAP and announcements will be forthcoming.

Watch this space.

Like the cat that swallowed the canary, SAP officials are chuffed with the progress of its Safe Passage Program.

While there are no public declarations to date there has been plenty of private posturing.

Such migration overtures by large corporate customers in Australia would certainly explain why Oracle has sent its most senior executives to our shores.

But I'm not convinced. SAP and Oracle might be making each other nervous with all their hints, whispers and marketing ploys, but are customers really willing to make the migration leap?

How many deals are really being done?

I don't doubt for a second that there are plenty of promises being bandied about including 'no interest-no payment' periods, sexy financing packages and lots of slick schmoozing.

But like a tattoo it's a permanent decision, one that cannot be made lightly.

Have you made the switch or are you even thinking about it? If so, I would love to hear from you. Feedback to sandra_rossi@idg.com.au

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