You may think: with so many ERPs on the market, who could or would start a new ERP company? However, some existing ERPs still miss the mark in providing what users want. So with the right ambition and talent a star is born.
So, what’s missing in some ERPs?
Many are built on old technology platforms with old tools that integrate poorly (or not at all) with mobile applications.
They have outmoded interfaces.
They don’t have complete sector and subsector functionality.
The delivery platform (on premise, cloud) is not in keeping with the current interests of the end-user community.
They have outdated or unattractive pricing models.
One of the companies to fill that void is BizSlate. Their customers not only talked about wanting a new solution, they put up their own investment dollars to make it happen. Big companies often participate in co-development activities. But SMBs? Almost never! BizSlate ERP was designed with the collaboration between the BizSlate team and ten customers who comprise a steering committee of small apparel, footwear, and housewares businesses ranging between $1 million and $200 million in revenue.
You have to feel completely neglected and also really trust the solutions provider to enter into this arrangement. But that is exactly what BizSlate’s early customers did.
Contrary to the technology sales myth that big companies are the early risk takers and have a greater technology appetite, younger or smaller companies are not lacking in technology savvy.1
Often they have had to settle for less, so you can see an enthusiasm for technologies they can now use.
Some users’ reactions to this new ERP are instructive in what they value. “I would like to compliment you on your initial version of your ERP software. What drew me to BizSlate first was the cloud-based software, no need for a server—which is a big cost saving. Also, this will allow us to work from outside the office from anywhere in the world from our iPads,”says Michael Esar, an owner of an international footwear business in Quebec. Clearly a tech-savvy small business owner.
BizSlate is engaging the small business market with their knack for understanding the ‘100-or-less’ company size (Figure 1).
Figure 1: BizSlate Focus
The key here is the interface. No doubt other ERPs are in the process of updating their UI,2
but they may have the legacy burden to overcome. “Now that I have worked with BizSlate’s software, I am shocked at how user friendly the software is and the ease of following the work flow. I look forward to the next version and having my entire office working on this software saving us time and money,” Mike Esar went on to say.
BizSlate can keep cloud service cost down and 24/7 availability up by leveraging Amazon Web Services’ cloud-based infrastructure solutions. AWS provides tools and cloud support as well as cloud elasticity so users pay only for what they use and don’t have to worry about managing an infrastructure. AWS supports database solutions including MySQL, Oracle and SQL Server database services; hosted enterprise database software; or non-relational database solutions, so there is no worry about being locked into a propriety solution.
Tools Yes, but What about Functionality?
Competitiveness in ERP also comes from depth of functionality—running the complexity of a business. Years of coding nets a library of functions that can become difficult to compete with. But, amazingly, the new ERPs such as BizSlate
seem to have high performance development methods that will help them gain on the field. “You guys have done your homework and it looks like a lot of angles are already covered in this release. I can clearly see the enterprise value in BizSlate and looking at other products already on the market it appears we will have a lot more features and flexibility with BizSlate,” said another customer who owns a t-shirt business in Georgia.
Part of this knack comes from being a tech firm with a good understanding of the industry. Without that, tech companies often fail to build great solutions. Users can see if the company truly understands their industry and the complexity of the business process. “This shows a strong understanding of the pain points of a small business such as mine…and allows me to ….adopt ‘best practices’ of my industries.”—Alan C. Mak, a user from an apparel business in New York City.
New Kid on the Block
Amazingly, users have grown to trust some of these young companies. The cloud model has changed the dynamics of the buyer/seller relationship. Without perpetual care, updates, and excellent support, companies don’t renew. Providing those features goes a long way in reducing mistrust. It is particularly useful for a new company where skepticism during the buying process can be even higher than most evaluation processes.
BizSlate seems to have captured the hearts and minds of their customer base. It will be interesting to watch BizSlate’s growth.