LAS VEGAS, Nev. — They say Comdex Fall doesn’t provide any more surprises. Well, there was a big surprise when Samsung, a South Korean electronics powerhouse, announced it will come out with ERP and Business Intelligence software products

and begin to compete with Cognos, PeopleSoft and SAP.

The hardware vendor began to dabble in software after its own internal information systems proved able to manage all of Samsung’s various businesses such as manufacturing, finance, electronics, semiconductors, services and construction, said David Hunt, business development manager for Samsung SDS America Inc. of Ridgefield Park, N.J.

Samsung’s new division will be called SDS and it has already garnered 500 customers mostly in Asia-Pacific. The division earned US$1.2 billion in revenue last year.

Hunt jokingly said: “”We are the biggest company nobody has ever heard of.””

SDS’s mandate is to bring these software solutions to the North American market place.

Its flagship product Bizentro, an ERP system that supports integrated management of the entire business process from bidding and production to procurement and shipping will be first to market. Bizentro also provides an integrated corporate information infrastructure for accounting, cost accounting and trade. It is also compatible with XML and integrates with SQL databases.

Hunt realizes he is in a tough spot with SDS. “”Samsung’s biggest problem years ago was that they made cheap TVs that broke. That is not the case anymore,”” he said. However, convincing customers that Samsung is now a software vendor as well as a hardware vendor won’t be easy.

“”I get a lot of ‘You guys make TVs,'”” Hunt said. Which is why Samsung SDS is trying to recruit regional resellers across North America. They have signed up a few in the U.S. and currently they are working on a partnership with a Montreal-based reseller, who would be the company’s first Canadian partner. Hunt would not disclose the name.

“”We are knocking on their door, which is a complete switch from what resellers are used to,”” he said.

Hunt is looking for 12 regional VARs in Canada that would cover the entire country from coast to coast.

“”We are looking for medium-sized regional consultants that do SAP or BAAN or are a software dealer. These partners would usually have to turn away customers (because they did not have a solution that would scale down). Now they don’t have to.

“”It is not designed for Fortune 500. This is an SME solution. We don’t want to run General Motors, but we do want the guy who makes the doors for GM or the company that makes transmissions. That is our customer,”” Hunt said.

Samsung’s sweet spot is a company between $50 million to $200 million. Hunt added that Bizentro can scale down to a 500 user environment on a single server.

Samsung SDS also released three other products at Comdex Fall: Contact 8.0, an enterprise-class e-mail and unified communications solution that runs on Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX.

The company also rolled out ACUBE, a Web-based enterprise knowledge portal that supports the management of diverse business processes, information and knowledge in one environment. The third product rollout is e-Service, a solution offered through its data centre in New Jersey.

Samsung SDS’s e-Service is an IT management service for SMEs that seek to outsource their IT infrastructure. It offers a professional services team, custom IT solutions for Internet implementation, consulting services, IT infrastructure implementation and remote support services.

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