ECONOMY

Crisis creates oligopolistic tendencies in ERP software market, SAP Hellas chief says

The global enterprise resource planning (ERP) market is going through a period of major upheaval due in part to the recession, which has caused companies to restrict spending on technology and put pressure on the revenues and profits of the major firms. The situation came to a head in recent days, with Oracle’s hostile $5.1 billion bid for PeopleSoft, which has in turn unveiled merger plans with JD Edwards. The conflict between three of the world’s most significant players is being closely watched by German software company SAP, which has the lion’s share of the global market. AMR Research predicts it will lift its market share to 36 percent in 2003. SAP recently came out with advertisements urging the clients of PeopleSoft and JD Edwards to put their trust in the German company. «Even if Oracle acquires PeopleSoft, its market share will still be smaller than SAP’s,» said Phaidon Hadzisavvas, managing director of SAP Hellas. AMR Research said the combined share of the two companies will reach 23 percent this year while the addition of JD Edwards will increase this to 27 percent. Hadzisavvas said the crisis leading to lower sales and profits was driving the wave of mergers and acquisitions in the ERP market. He said clients do not have the funds for IT systems and that they are only investing in essential applications that produce visible results. As a result, ERP companies have seen their profits come under pressure, with SAP showing a limited profit decline compared with its rivals. «Our clients are thriftier, more demanding and will not buy a complete ERP system, preferring to upgrade applications for vital sectors of their business,» Hadzisavvas said. The fallout from the wave of mergers and acquisitions has been very limited in the Greek market, where SAP Hellas has a market share exceeding 50 percent, he said. PeopleSoft is not present in Greece, with its customer relations management system sold via InfoQuest. JD Edwards has a local associate with about 10 clients while Oracle has about 15-20 customers in the ERP market. SAP Hellas has some 150 corporate clients. It added about 10 new clients in the first five months of the year, among them Emporiki Bank, the Grecotel chain and wood product company Shelman. «The game will be oligopolistic and harder, with two strong groups – SAP and Oracle, should it take over PeopleSoft  – competing for each customer,» said Hadzisavvas. He said SAP will not have a problem from the merger of its rivals, citing its experience in the CRM market where it leads in the global market. With the private sector reluctant to spend, SAP Hellas has now turned to the public sector, in particular the Information Society Program for companies funded by Brussels. «Globally, SAP focuses on the public sector but SAP Hellas had targeted the private sector,» he said.