One year old this month, with over fifteen customers, Kenandy is the one of the latest ERP-in-the cloud companies to hit the market. Lessons learned from decades in the software market, plus some fresh new faces in the social cloud world have combined to create this new solution.
It’s interesting to note that when Kenandy launched, with only a modest code base, the early adopters were ready to get onboard, even though they knew there was a long way to go in the development of a rich ERP. What does that tell us about the attitude of some in the business community towards the ERP market? Users are adopting. Yes, there are always unmet needs; but this early-adoption trend was also noted in the BizSlate launch (although Marc Kalman had more in the portfolio at launch there). In addition, there are several open source players out there who have been building their way into richer offerings (such as Compiere open source ERP system from Aptean).
This is not a comment about price (although cost is a factor), but more about where companies want to take their IT strategy in this new decade. Kenandy launched with some basic manufacturing, and now, in their v2.0, have added the financials and order management that officially make them an ERP. Though these types of solutions are important to consider if you are a manufacturer who fundamentally outsources your production, it is important to note that at this point Kenandy has US-only accounting rules and language. Their focus is on the smaller companies who have embraced light cloud solutions (see Figure 1 below).
One thing we like is the unambiguous commitment to cloud. Only a few solutions providers are really putting that stake in the ground. Many who launch as cloud wind up providing whatever the customer wants (e.g. On Premise, single-tenant hosted, etc.)at the cost of some of the benefits of the multi-tenant cloud offering (easier, more cost effective to support, keeping the total cost of ownership lower for the customer). Examples of companies that are committed to the cloud (offering only multi-tenant single-instance SaaS) include Plex, NetSuite, and BizSlate, to name a few.
So What Does Force.com Offer?
Kenandy was built using the Force.com platform. This ecosystem of tools and partners has exploded in the last decade, helping Salesforce rank as one of the higher valued companies in the software industry. This community of companies has provided Salesforce some important revenue, edging into $2B in annual sales (latest quarterly revenue was $732M). Dreamforce now attracts 70K+ attendees: a good place to see and be seen if you are a young company starting out (or an older company wanting to look cool).
Architectural strengths or weaknesses aside, the Salesforce Platform has positioned themselves as the alternative to development tools providers like Oracle and Microsoft’s .NET platform (and rich partner network). The Salesforce platform provides both the development tools for cloud and social networking plug-ins (leveraging the Chatter product). Make no mistake, social is a serious component of the business model (see Social Transformation, in this issue) and this is one way that developers—whether in apps companies or in-house IT teams—can leverage enterprise social networking and connect to core apps such as sales.
There are some heavy-lifting applications in Salesforce’s ecosystem, such as FinancialForce Accounting, which was built by UNIT4’s Coda team. It is a sophisticated financial application company with global financial capabilities (multi-currency, global tax, multi-company) and global Fortune 2000 companies as customers. In other words, they really know financials. So there is power there.
Going Live When You Are Little
One of the novel services that Kenandy has is a go-live capability. Give them your data and they will work with you remotely, help you through the process, load your data, and work through testing, etc. This can significantly reduce the time to go live for companies, as well as remove that stressful implementation-team footprint. Implementation (and often, having to house consultants onsite) is disruptive and more important, is very costly: travel costs, taking employees away from work. This can often break the bank for small businesses. Note—this is not a self-service application, although some software companies do have that goal (see "Launching a New ERP (or WMS, TMS, SRM) Company in This Mature, Consolidating Market? Are You Crazy?").
Any operations software product you buy requires attention and commitment from the end-user—you. Please understand, for your own sake, that business improvements, especially of this nature, are urgently important. Without your commitment and this understanding, the risks associated with implementation increase. The cloud world is littered with half done and canceled projects and non-renewals for the cloud providers. You don’t want your ERP—the enterprise backbone—to go that way. Most cloud applications of substance have integration, data cleanup and, yes, custom code. Implementation partners are there to help deal with this reality. Kenandy is building a partner base to help with implementation. Users need to think through the process and their trading partner integration strategy (see B2B Process Mastery in this issue) and make sure all outcomes are tested and successfully implemented.
Cloud or not cloud, a lot is at stake with ERP. Though they may manage the code, you still manage the business. Manage wisely!