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VENDOR NOTE
.Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms
for People-centric Businesses
By P.J. Jakovljevic, TEC Principal Analyst
www....
Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses
www.technologyevaluation.com
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Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platfor...
Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses
www.technologyevaluation.com
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Figure 1. Unit4 international...
Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses
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Figure 2. Unit4 People Platfo...
Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses
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Figure 3. Smart Context ingre...
Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses
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Figure 4. Elastic Foundation ...
Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses
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Figure 5. Unit4 products on t...
Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses
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About Technology Evaluation C...
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Unit4 rebrands-and-re-platforms-for-people-centric-businesses-1-191542

  1. 1. VENDOR NOTE .Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses By P.J. Jakovljevic, TEC Principal Analyst www.technologyevaluation.com Technology Evaluation Centers APRIL 2015
  2. 2. Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses www.technologyevaluation.com 2 Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses Over a year after appointing new CEO Jose Duarte (formerly a top SAP executive in Europe) and getting new private equity owners Advent International, it was expected the Unit4 group would change its direction somewhat and espouse some new strategy. That indeed took place in late March 2015, when Duarte outlined the project- and people-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) software company’s latest value prop and strategy to industry analysts via an international webcast. In a nutshell, what has worked for the company for decades will still remain in place—the focus on a handful of people-intensive industries and an agile architecture that accommodates constant business change. Its solutions can still be flexibly deployed in the public cloud, private cloud, or on premise, with flexibility for specific requirements around data residency and security. But, contrary to the past practice of featuring multiple diverse local brands with different messages, no synergies, and no global visibility, Unit4 will now have one master brand with a clearer positioning and higher visibility. There is even a new corporate logo with different colors and font to hint at a new cool company. Rounding out Unit4’s International Portfolio A more substantive change comes with product name changes—all of the products are now called “Unit4 + a more descriptive name,” starting with Unit4 Business World (formerly Unit4 Agresso ERP) and Unit4 Financials (formerly Unit4 Coda Financials), as the flagship enterprise resource planning (ERP) and global financials software products, respectively. Then, under the other so-called best-in- class (BIC) products that excel at specific tasks, former Unit4 Ocra will now be sold as the Unit4 Consolidation and Unit4 Cashflow Planning modules, whereas the former Unit4 Current Software is now Unit4 Travel & Expenses. Last but not least, former Unit4 Accountancy will now be sold as the Unit4 Statutory Reporting, Unit4 Account Analysis, and Unit4 Audit & Control solutions (see figure 1).
  3. 3. Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses www.technologyevaluation.com 3 Figure 1. Unit4 international portfolio Moreover, the new People Platform takes the best of the former Agresso VITA architecture and acts as a foundation for the aforementioned Unit4 portfolio— Business World ERP, Industry Solutions, and BIC products such as former Coda, Orca, Current, and Accountancy (which have all been renamed, as mentioned earlier). Unit4 Business World and the BIC products like Coda will remain as separate products, but they will take advantage of the underlying capabilities of the People Platform—the embedded analytics, social and mobile context, user experience, and much more. Given Unit4’s vast acquisition track over the decades, its many local (and sometimes even esoteric) products come in two flavors—those aforementioned that are being scaled to be sold internationally (e.g., Travel & Expense, Cash & Consolidation, Account Analysis, Wholesale Distribution), and those that will remain focused on the needs of the local markets. The international ones will evolve to be integrated with and leverage the People Platform as well. The wholesale distribution industry product is interesting, as it goes back to the origins of Unit4. It has been around forever and eventually evolved onto the former Agresso ERP platform, but it is only really sold in the Benelux today, where it has a good chunk of market share. Unit4 sees it as a really great global opportunity in the future. People Platform Foundation The aforementioned Unit4 People Platform will provide the foundation for Unit4 business applications from now on and delivers on the company vision for the so- called self-driving business applications (that automate low-value repetitive tasks), while enabling people to create impact (i.e., be more productive and make smarter decisions). The platform aims to ensure better engagement through a personalized user experience, in-context information delivery, flexibility, and out- of-the-box functional capabilities for industries such as professional services, education, public services, not for profit, real estate, and wholesale distribution.
  4. 4. Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses www.technologyevaluation.com 4 Figure 2. Unit4 People Platform layers The platform is designed for extensibility and adaptability to current and future business needs and consists of four layers (see figure 2). The top Personal Experience layer provides a simple and relevant yet complete user experience that people have come to expect in the digital era, i.e., social, mobile, and with relevant analytics and alerts. The next layer, the Business Capabilities layer, is about providing relevant specific functionality for the aforementioned people- centric industries. The Smart Context layer is where the self-driving applications’ rubber meets the road. It leverages technologies such as social, mobile, predictive analytics, machine-learning, and other tools (see figure 3) to provide in-context and in-time information delivery and collaboration, which in turn enables users to focus on better engagement with customers and citizens. For example, the Smart Context layer minimizes time spent on administrative tasks by pre-populating timesheets and expense reports based on location data and behavior analysis of big data (e.g., pattern recognition). Additionally, a process engine automates workflows, an analytics engine feeds exceptions while mining data, and pattern recognition delivers the best possible answers to certain situations.
  5. 5. Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses www.technologyevaluation.com 5 Figure 3. Smart Context ingredients Last but not least, the bottom Elastic Foundation layer, which builds on the former Agresso VITA architecture, allows organizations to model and remodel data structures and functionality to meet evolving business requirements (e.g., mergers, reorgs, divestitures, etc.). It provides context around relationships and keeps all modules, all reports, and all workflows within Unit4 applications in lockstep. In other words, the Elastic Foundation provides intelligence around relations regarding projects, customers, and time. The Elastic Foundation layer’s extend-and-relate architecture incorporates “extend” (the ability to allow organizations and end-users to model data structures and functionality and meet evolving business requirements) and “relate” (the ability to bring context around relationships to extended data structures and functionality). It drives execution of changes behind the scene across access rights, workflow, reporting, analytics, etc. automatically. It also feeds the “digital graph” of the organization, including rules and timestamps (see figure 4).
  6. 6. Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses www.technologyevaluation.com 6 Figure 4. Elastic Foundation ingredients Unit4 People Platform Adoption Unit4’s flagship ERP and financials applications already benefit from the power of the People Platform, with Unit4’s commitment to add more applications over time (see figure 5). While the just-released Unit4 Business World Milestone 5 is already fully on the platform, Unit4 Financials is benefiting already from new user experience and smart context and will continue to embrace more capabilities of the People Platform going forward. As an example of the latter, new flexi-fields technologies enable finance professionals to combine business data with contextual information from inside or outside the system, such as pipeline data and customer retention data. This flexibility in Unit4 Financials empowers the finance team to manage critical information key to monitoring and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs). New contextual information and data automatically become integral to Unit4 Financials for future use. In addition, in-memory analytics capabilities (part of the platform’s smart context layer) are embedded in the latest version, enabling real- time analysis of important data and providing actionable insights.
  7. 7. Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses www.technologyevaluation.com 7 Figure 5. Unit4 products on the People Platform While not much is earth-shattering here—the People Platform is basically building upon Unit4’s established erstwhile VITA architecture—it is hard to debate the idea of having a common architectural framework, to obtain the best available functionalities from several disparate products, and cross-purpose them for other products. Unit4’s new strategy is positive and plausible. The company will also have to expand its partner ecosystem, which has been rudimentary in the past, but announcements of these partnerships will come at another time (perhaps at the upcoming Unit4 Analyst Summit in June 2015). The vast majority of Unit4’s nearly $600 million (USD) revenues come from the European market. Just by penetrating the North American and Asia Pacific markets more, one could easily see Unit4 reach a $1 billion (USD) revenue mark. But the task of penetrating those market will be fiercely defended by the market leaders and/or incumbents such as SAP, Oracle, Infor, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, Deltek, etc. Interesting times are definitely upon us market observers. Related Reading: UNIT4’s Renewed Focus on the User
  8. 8. Unit4 Rebrands and Re-platforms for People-centric Businesses www.technologyevaluation.com 8 About Technology Evaluation Centers Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) is the world’s leading provider of software selection resources, services, and research materials, helping organizations evaluate and select the best enterprise software for their needs. With its advanced decision-making process and software selection experts, TEC reduces the time, cost, and risk associated with enterprise software selection. Over 3.5 million subscribers leverage TEC’s extensive research and detailed information on more than 1,000 leading software solutions across all major application areas. TEC is recognized as an industry-leading software selection advisory firm offering resources and services both online and onsite. For more information, please visit www.technologyevaluation.com. Technology Evaluation Centers Inc. 740 St. Maurice, 4th Floor Montreal, Quebec Canada, H3C 1L5 Phone: +1 514-954-3665 Toll-free: 1-800-496-1303 Fax: +1 514-954-9739 E-mail: asktheexperts@technologyevaluation.com Web site: www.technologyevaluation.com TEC, TEC Advisor, and ERGO are trademarks of Technology Evaluation Centers Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners. © Technology Evaluation Centers Inc. All rights reserved. UNIT420150421

Unit4 rebrands and re-platforms for people centric businesses

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