J.D. Edwards gets over its identity crisis

DENVER — Vowing the company is not up for sale, J.D. Edwards president, CEO and chairman Ed McVaney today outlined a leaner, more focused strategy to revive the firm industry analysts say had lost its way.

“I assure you JD Edwards is a strong, stable, profitable company. We’re not as profitable as we’d like to be, but we’re working on that,” a determined McVaney declared, addressing the media here during the company’s annual Focus 2001 conference.

As part of the firm’s self-assessment over the last year, McVaney said reductions in management personnel that existed between executives and customers has been trimmed by one third, amounting to a $75 million reduction in the company’s operating costs.

“We’ve stumbled along the way and we’re one of the last ones to get into open systems and we missed the CRM wave, but we will be doing something to catch up with that,” McVaney promised, but would not say when the company would be launching its customer relatinship management strategy. “We do have a clear vision to get out ahead of this game.”

Throughout the week, McVaney said the main message the company will be delivering to the 8,000 users in attendance at Focus 2001 will be J.D. Edwards’s re-commitment to the mid-enterprise market, promising customer-driven solutions. Traditionally, the mid-market has represented 67 per cent of the company’s total business, something chief marketing officer Les Wyatt referred to as “the heartland of J.D. Edwards’ business.”

“Over time, the Gartner Group said, we had an identity crisis and tried to spread ourselves too thin in terms of the customers we wanted to serve,” said Wyatt. “So we did a self-analysis. As we look forward, you will see our business be more concentrated around not so much the size of a business, but those who want that kind of integrated solution.”

With that in mind, McVaney also vowed the company would provide a clear, integrated approach to delivering solutions to its customers.

“Buyers want one throat to choke — one person to do the hardware, the software and we at J.D. Edwards have drifted away from that. We think the mid-market is looking for that and looking for integrated software. We’ve cut back on our consulting practice in the past and we are rebuilding that,” he said, promising to give customers satisfaction, economic value, a trustworthy company and a means to future-proofing their systems as the technology evolves.

How the market will be defined by J.D. Edwards will also be different from the past, said Wyatt, noting it is more a psychological space, rather than a financial one.

“When people talk about the mid-market, they think $200 million to $1 billion. We believe our solution serves a broader space that reaches to the lower end. What we find is that from industry to industry the parameters change.”

As part of a series of announcements made today, the company indicated Advanced Planning modules that provide collaborative forecasting and demand management, supply chain planning, order promising and product scheduling have been priced for under $150,000. That price compares to a price tag of $400,000 charged to larger customers seeking similar solutions, Wyatt noted.

The company is also setting a course to take advantage of the growing international market, set to grow faster than markets they are currently serving in North America. Between 2001 and 2005 the international market is projected to grow by 32 per cent, while domestic growth is pegged at 25 per cent.

As a means to push forward with their strategy, a further announcement was made Monday regarding the addition of Canadian reseller Discovery Information Systems (DIS) to its channel partner network, selling J.D. Edwards OneWorld Xe and Knowledge Management software in Western Canada.

The Calgary-based VAR focuses on companies with revenues under $125 million in the manufacturing, distribution and oil field industries.

As well, the company’s collaborative software is being rewritten for release in September for use by any customer.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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