ORLANDO, Fla.—With its latest application suite, Lawson 9, on the market since March and the acquisition of Intentia expected to close April 24, Lawson Software laid out its product road map through 2008—or the foreseeable future in software years—at its annual CUE user event.
On April 10 Lawson, during the first day of its two-day conference here, outlined the precepts of its product vision that includes industry-specific product packages, business intelligence capabilities, adaptability through SOA (service-oriented architecture) and a scalable technology stack.
The biggest item in terms of the companys road map is its decision to keep the Lawson and Intentia application stacks separate.
Where the two products will converge is around infrastructure—both are standardized on IBMs middleware platform—and around new application development using Lawsons Landmark development platform.
The company has split the two application stacks to separate sides of the organization chart. Lawson will focus on procurement, human resources and financial management for services companies in its suite labeled S3 (for source, serve and staff). The Intentia applications, dubbed M3 (make, move and maintain) will focus on manufacturing and supply chain distribution.
“We will expose and exploit two different product lines—integration is everything,” said Lawsons Chief Product Officer Dean Hagar. “Youll get your functionality you need without the complexity of manufacturing. For Intentia [customers], its the same message.”
On top of both application stacks will sit a single Enterprise Performance Management suite.
Lawson also announced April 10 that it has committed to developing the third generation of Intentias software. The first generation of Intentias software was written in RPG. The second generation took on more open concepts with the introduction of XML and Web services. It was also a complete rewrite from RPG to Java (a six-year, $100 million development investment).
This next generation of software will expand on interoperability capabilities, according to Henrik Billgren, president of Intentia R&D, and it will take on a completely new look and feel.
“We will make use of business logic that is flirting with SOA,” said Billgren. “If you get too granular, it is too difficult to put objects [somewhere].”
Billgren, who will take on the head of application development at Lawson, overseeing both M3 and S3 development, said the company is also with new technology, code-named Ada, that will enable business documents to interoperate.
Hes also taking some leaps with the user interface, working with San Francisco-based design company Frog to develop a completely new user experience for Intentia users.
“We need to get creative people in ERP,” he said. “With the UI development, we said to Frog, go wild.”
The Rest of the
The Rest of the Story
In all its development work, Lawson is adhering to the motto: Build it once, package it twice (or three, or four or five times).
The idea is to build applications for different suites with the same context—the ability to survey in recruiting and strategic sourcing, for example—that leverage the same infrastructure along the way.
In this respect, Lawson 9 is the “bridge from the past into the future,” said Hagar.
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The first indication, or productization of that, is Strategic Sourcing, a SOA-based application Lawson unveiled April 10.
Later in 2006, the company will roll out a Web service deployment of all its core applications on the Lawson 9 base and roll out a Business Intelligence engine for both application stacks. At the same time, it will offer pre-configured software packages for M3 and S3 around manufacturing and food and beverage.
In 2007, Lawson will focus on HCM (Human Capital Management), an area it believes to be the fastest growing sector within ERP.
To this end, the company announced April 10 its Lawson Performance Management, a new module added to its HCM suite that is the first product tied to a series of releases around talent management.
The Performance Management module has two components: goal view, which measures how individuals perform against measurable goals, and talent view, which helps companies understand how individuals perform.
A bit late to the game, Lawson also plans to focus on composite applications in 2007, by converging the M3 and S3 suites around IBMs WebSphere portal, to enable composite application development.
In 2008, the company plans to launch the next generation of its M3 product line, and continue to expand its Landmark suite of applications.
Dennis Dahlen, system vice president of Finance at Banner Health, said he is just happy to see Lawson emerging as a stronger company. “Our chief concerns with Lawson have been code quality and stock price,” said Dahlen, who is based in Phoenix, Ariz.
“They were literally dying in a desert storm. They had a hang over from their IPO….For customers pre-IPO Lawson focused on delivering [software] we needed. After it was selling stuff we might need.”
Dahlen said that when his company upgraded to the 8.x platform between 2002 and 2004, Lawson rained down with “literally thousands of patches a month,” he said. “It was a very, very low point.”
Many of the software problems in the 8.x platform have been worked out, according to Dahlen, and he is anticipating upgrading to 9, which will bring some payroll upgrades, he said.
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