A handful of software developers are altering their respective enterprise product lines with the goal of attracting new small- and midsize-business customers.
Companies, including IBM, SAP AG and NetSuite Inc., are each developing new applications that give small businesses a hook into larger enterprise applications for the first time, with an awareness of cost.
IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., this week will announce three products in its Express software line that are designed to let small and midsize businesses connect their back-office business applications to their partners larger enterprise applications.
A new database, DB2 Everyplace Express Edition, helps smaller companies manage business-to-business data by providing an entry point for mobile communications.
WebSphere Business Integration Connect Express, which is available now, enables companies to join sophisticated trading communities and swap transactional data. A companion product, WebSphere Business Intelligence Express for Item Synchronization, helps SMB users comply with UCCnet Inc.s B2B data synchronization technology.
Other business software developers are also training their sights on SMBs. SAP by years end will roll out Version 6.5 of its Business One software, which adds new customer relationship management capabilities to the existing suite of business process automation applications for organizations of up to 250 employees. At the same time, SAP, of Walldorf, Germany, is lining up ISV partners that will add vertically oriented applications to the suite, officials said.
In addition to these companies, NetSuite, which sells a suite of hosted applications for SMBs, by early next year will roll out upgrades with enhancements for dealing with trading partners. With the updates, NetSuite will provide a Recurring Billing feature that enables line items on sales orders to be billed according to the terms of the sales contract. It also will include an offline client, according to NetSuite officials, in San Mateo, Calif.
While top-tier software vendors clearly have their eye on smaller customers, IT departments at those companies are still somewhat wary of enterprise-class names and price tags.
Duane Taylor, vice president of finance at NextiraOne Federal, a federal government systems integrator and unit of NextiraOne LLC, was looking for an accounting system earlier this year. A colleague suggested Taylor consider SAPs midmarket offering, Business One, which includes services from American Express Co.
"My concern was ... the size of our company couldnt warrant the expense of [SAPs traditional enterprise software suite,] R/3," said Taylor, in Herndon, Va. "Then when SAP showed up with American Express, I thought, Do you know what our budget is? We only budgeted $75,000 for software and services ... [but] they were able to come in with that number."