Microsoft targets $10 billion sales in ERP by 2011

With its certified Greek version of Navision, presented in Athens last month, Microsoft is targeting the business solutions market under an especially favorable condition: European Union financing of investment in technology, a major part of which is related to the installation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Microsoft Business Solutions-Navision was certified in Greece in July and is fully compatible with the country’s tax code and the Greek general accounting model. The firm says its Greek version includes two new sub-systems and a spate of processes «specially designed for the needs of firms in the Greek market.» To promote Navision in Greece, Microsoft has signed deals with 16 local firms, designated as Certified Partners. Managing Director of Microsoft Business Solutions International Lars Plesner Hamann told Kathimerini that «the bad news for the software market is over» and that the experience from the presentation of Navision in the other European markets was positive; there are now 37 national editions of Navision, addressing small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). However, «if we take into account that in markets like Greece, big companies are of medium size by European standards, we are addressing the entire market,» Hamann says. He says Microsoft targets a turnover of $10 billion in the business software market by 2011 – 10 years after it decided to expand in this particular segment. He estimates that Navision is now installed in 36,000 firms worldwide. But why should a businessman put his money in Microsoft in the ERP area when this will mean dependence on a single supplier (given the firm’s domination on the Windows platform)? Hamann supports the logic of the one-stop shop, which, in his opinion, clients favor in their strategy of investment in technology. «We are targeting the development of applications that will be friendly in use and management and also compatible with other systems,» he says. Hamann considers that one of the advantages of Navision is the large number of sub-applications (modules), that allow an enterprise to invest in ERP in phases, beginning with the modules it is most interested in and adding the other applications later. Market players are expressing misgivings about the scheme Microsoft has chosen to enter the ERP segment through local partners. Past experience (Germany’s SAP installs itself ERP applications in Greece) shows that partners are not so faithful, particularly when they have software of their own which competes with international packages. Hamann insists that the operating model works and Microsoft will stick to it. The firm employs 8 percent of its work force in Navision and has about 6,000 partners worldwide. New platform tapping significant potential «With Navision, Microsoft puts into place one of the last pieces of the puzzle in the area of business solutions,» says Nikos Fountas, general director of ABC Professional Services, one of the 16 certified partners of Microsoft Business Solutions in Greece. He says ABC decided to invest in Navision «in order to utilize its know-how in the area of ERP, where some of its prominent clients are Novabank, Piraeus Bank and Emporiki Bank.» Fountas says that international players «increasingly invest in information technology services and systems integration, and Microsoft’s initiative points to the trend of strong groups bolstering their presence in local markets.» «The ERP software market has significant gaps which Microsoft attempts to fill,» says Managing Director of Cosmos Business Solutions Dimitris Dafnis. He says Cosmos decided to invest in Navision because ERP has a significant growth potential, as local software companies have not managed to fully tap it. He adds that Navision will be attractively priced.