MicrosoftÒ Solutions for:

ERP and the Digital Nervous System

 

 


Introduction....................................................................................................................... 1

ERP and the 'Digital Nervous System'........................................................................ 1

Scaleability: affordable, "enterprise-ready" solutions............................................. 2

Software: ERP and Microsoft............................................................................................. 3

Introduction..................................................................................................................... 3

Solutions for industry.................................................................................................... 3

Linking the core components of ERP......................................................................... 4

Research and development........................................................................................ 5

Standards........................................................................................................................... 6

Introduction..................................................................................................................... 6

Windows 2000.............................................................................................................. 6

Windows DNA................................................................................................................. 7

COM technologies: bringing openness to ERP......................................................... 7

The XML Standard and BizTalk................................................................................... 8

SQL Server....................................................................................................................... 8

E-commerce is here........................................................................................................... 9

Introduction..................................................................................................................... 9

The business view versus customer view................................................................. 9

Supply Chain Management (SCM).......................................................................... 10

Partners........................................................................................................................... 10

Introduction.................................................................................................................. 10

Partnering for success................................................................................................ 10

Conclusion....................................................................................................................... 11

Microsoft: delivering on the promise of ERP......................................................... 12


Introduction

In recent years, sales of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions skyrocketed as many organisations combined year 2000 and Euro compliance with a rethink of how they did business. There was even sharper growth in the mid-market, with many independent software vendors (ISVs) delivering best of breed solutions to complement and extend core ERP functionality.

 

Promising more flexible, process-oriented approaches, ERP was designed to address many business challenges: from improved manufacturing, inventory and supply chain management (SCM), through financial controlling and human resource management, to enabling a faster time-to-market and improved customer relationship management (CRM). In such areas, ERP was seen as a way of using information more proactively across the enterprise.

 

The reality, however, was that many organisations found that improvements in their operating efficiency did not necessarily translate into improvements in their overall effectiveness. As demand for ERP solutions has tailed off, companies have begun looking for ways to build on their ERP investments to enable them to place customers at the centre of their business, to drive competitive advantage and increase profitability.

 

ERP clearly improves the "muscle tone" of an enterprise, giving it the potential to react to changing markets, business dynamics and customer needs. To realise that potential in the digital economy, the enterprise needs an infrastructure - a nervous system - that ties its disparate parts together, one that enables it to act, react and adapt faster than the competition. This is Microsoft's starting position in the ERP arena.

 

In short, Microsoft provides the technology infrastructure that companies need to exploit their ERP-based business process infrastructure.

 

ERP and the 'Digital Nervous System'

Working alongside partner organisations, including the world's leading ERP vendors and many other specialist ISVs, Microsoft's approach is to add value to and extend the reach of ERP systems. This is achieved by ensuring ERP systems and processes are fully integrated within a business and IT framework, known as the Digital Nervous System (DNS), which extends across and beyond the enterprise.

 

In ERP as elsewhere, Microsoft's watchwords are Internet, Interoperability, Reliability, Scaleability and Simplicity. This means delivering an infrastructure that cuts through the complexity of mixed hardware and software environments to enable true enterprise-wide ERP - and ERP knowledge management for all. By providing the right mix of products, technologies, methodologies and strategic relationships, organisations can make the most of ERP, whatever their size, scope or business requirement.

 


Scaleability: affordable, "enterprise-ready" solutions

Utilities: Hyder plc, UK

The Hyder Group, an international infrastructure and utilities company, has implemented SAP R/3 for 2,000 users based on Windows NT Server and SQL Server. This is one of the largest R/3 implementation on a Microsoft platform anywhere in the world, and Hyder believes it will support its financials requirements for the next 10 to 20 years - and the IT operating charges of the company's Welsh Water subsidiary have already been reduced by £1 million per year. "We have full confidence in the ability of Windows NT and SQL Server to scale up to our needs," says Mark Cartwright, Infrastructure Manager at Lusis, the Microsoft partner behind implementation.

 
Microsoft technologies for ERP are as robust and scaleable as the market needs them to be. Their performance and flexibility has been demonstrated repeatedly - they routinely set price/performance records, and come top in industry benchmarking tests.

 

In September 1999, for example, benchmark tests by Microsoft, Compaq and SAP indicated world-record performance for the retail industry. The SAP Retail Module, running on SQL Server and Windows NT, produced a benchmark number of 3.01 million sales data line items per hour - the best such result ever published on any platform, and exceeding the previous record of 2.4 million.

 

And in June 1999, SQL Server achieved similar world-record performance results on Windows NT Server for the SAP R/3 sales and distribution benchmark and the Transaction Processing Performance Council's TPC-C benchmark.

 

Moreover, in July 1999, PC Week Labs reported on Doculabs' testing of eight leading platforms, which found that Windows NT Enterprise Server led the way in scaleability and performance. Using the @Bench benchmark, that measures a platform's ability to handle large-scale e-commerce applications, cost-effective Compaq hardware running Windows NT outperformed several far more costly setups, handling more than 10,000 concurrent users and serving 2,500 web pages per second - more than 250 percent faster than any other platform.

 

And in March 1999, Geac announced the results of benchmark testing for its SmartStream Financials and Microsoft SQL Server on a Compaq Proliant Server. 250 concurrent users were able to enter and to save invoices with an average 2.04-second response time; typical invoices used included five lines per invoice, as well as tax information. A throughput of 155,000 multi-currency transactions per hour was measured.

 

Results such as these - and there are many more examples - underline the fact that Microsoft ERP-DNS platforms continue to grow in line with market demands and customer expectations. In practice, this means optimal price/performance ratios and an assurance that Microsoft solutions will continue to grow in line with an organisation's needs. You can, for example, start relatively "small" and then scale up your ERP-DNS implementation from 100 users to support 500 and 1,000, then 2,500, 5,000 and so on.

 

 

 


Software: ERP and Microsoft

 

Introduction

Microsoft is an undisputed global leader in software for business and personal computing, offering a huge range of products that range from PC-based desktop productivity tools to - critically for ERP environments - powerful and fully scaleable server technologies, operating systems and platforms.

 

Microsoft solutions provide increased productivity, a lower total cost of ownership (TCO), improved manageability for deployment and operation, ease of use, and reduced training and support costs. The result is an enhanced competitive edge achieved through better decision-making.

So what does this mean for ERP? In short, a Microsoft-based infrastructure enables you to build and benefit from state-of-the-art ERP solutions. Using the DNS concept, you can link ERP functionality and capabilities across the enterprise using a common infrastructure, one that extends both within and outside the organisation. The result is not only to protect but also to add value to current and planned investments in ERP systems and processes.

 

Solutions for industry

ERP solutions based on a Microsoft platform deliver benefits to all industry sectors and for all levels of user - from the manufacturing shop floor and production managers, through logistics and distribution, sales, marketing and human resources to finance directors, CFOs, CEO's and Chief Operating Officers.

 

Today's markets place huge demands on manufacturers - and in both discrete and process manufacturing, ERP has already proven its value in terms of improving efficiency, productivity and profitability. With an integrated DNS infrastructure that enables more powerful and flexible approaches to ERP and Supply Chain Management (SCM) - and across areas such as production planning, repeatable processes, crisis scenarios and support for multi-site operations - these benefits can increase dramatically. This can mean, for example, achieving an even better balance between volume of production, pricing and delivery requirements.

In the retail sector, more powerful and integrated approaches to ERP will enable a more efficient consumer response (ECR), streamline supply chains and smooth logistics, improve merchandising and deliver greater inventory control. A Microsoft partner and solutions programme, ActiveStore, is specifically designed to meet retail sector needs.

 

The implications of Microsoft-based ERP for government are similarly clear. In the teeth of intense pressure on public spending, government as a supply chain remains a hugely extended enterprise that includes multiple departments, partners and suppliers, and touches on virtually every citizen at every life stage. In healthcare, ERP deployment is similarly on the rise as, for example, hospitals look to improve patient administration and departmental management while controlling costs.

 

In retail banking and financial services Microsoft-based ERP can, for example, improve financial controls, enable more effective human resource and asset management, speed product development, and enhance purchasing and procurement.

 

The objective is to optimise ERP deployment and usage in each of these sectors. The Microsoft approach ensures key benefits can be achieved through infrastructures that are as powerful and scaleable (and, therefore, future-proofed) as they are cost-effective.

 

Linking the core components of ERP

ERP implementations typically include core components such as financials, manufacturing, logistics and distribution, human resources and CRM (customer relationship management). They also, depending on an organisation's needs, include specially customised (or best of breed) products from growing numbers of ISVs.

 

The challenge is to link these elements together into a holistic whole (via the DNS) and provide a universal way for people to access, view and use the data and information that is held in disparate IT systems (via a standard web browser). In this sense, the Internet changes everything: its ubiquity, familiarity and ease of use can be used to transform every worker, from boardroom to shop floor, into a knowledge worker.

 

With an integrated system accessed via a familiar and friendly interface, information barriers between different systems and departments vanish. The entire enterprise, its ERP systems and processes, can be brought together under the same umbrella to benefit the entire organisation. For example, linking between HR and financials is increasingly important to help streamline internal processes and improve efficiency. With a DNS, employees could, for example, use a secure "self-service" process to submit expenses; they could be notified of approval automatically, via e-mail, and funds could be transferred to their bank account electronically. No paper, very little hassle, simply a DNS that is used to link different elements of the ERP implementation and therefore helping to speed business processes and make better use of resources.

 

Such approaches must, of course, be characterised by high levels of performance, a lower (and more easily controllable) TCO and, in practical terms, carefully defined workflows and business rules, plus appropriate security measures. Microsoft's DNS meets all of these criteria, and more.

 


Creating the DNS

Financial Services: News Banque (Bank of Scotland), France

News Banque chose CODA-Financials software for its financial and accounts management systems (including general, analytic, budgetary and ancillary accounts, procurement and supplier accounts management) based on its capabilities in multiple language support for issuing reports, compatibility for changeover to the euro, procurements interfacing, and so on. The fact that CODA-Financials runs on a client/server environment under Windows NT, with SQL Server, was a decisive factor: "From the outset, we selected a client/server architecture running on Windows NT for the entire bank," says Claude Prod'homme, Administrative and Financial Director.

 
Microsoft and its partners believe that building linkages across the enterprise, to enable ERP knowledge management, is achieved through the deployment of a powerful DNS that is based on:

         Web-enabled PCs to empower employees at every level by offering a single enterprise portal through the web browser. This becomes the digital dashboard - fully customisable for use with line-of-business applications, and to meet individual needs (for example, providing departmental managers with key performance indicators) - that drives more effective knowledge management;

         Reliable e-mail and messaging systems to speed the flow of information and knowledge across the enterprise and along supply chains - right through from supplier to end customer, if required;

         A familiar and easy-to-use Office and BackOffice suite of software that meets a multitude of business needs and requires little or no end user training;

         Powerful database and data warehousing capabilities to ensure data and information are not only stored in the optimal ways (today, this typically means sorting data in customer rather than product or function focused structures), but ensuring they are also available to the right people in the right place at the right time; and

         Line-of-business applications developed and delivered by the leading ERP vendors plus specialist solution providers, and seamlessly integrating them within the DNS (for example, more than 600 line-of-business applications have already been developed by ISVs based on SQL Server).

 

Research and development

Microsoft is dedicated to continuous R&D to improve and augment its range of products, and leads the industry in the investments it makes. Current investment plans stand at some US$3.8 billion. New advances in the pipeline include ClearType, XML standards, advanced collaboration, wireless, voice and video.

 

Perhaps more significantly, the world's leading ERP software vendors - including SAP, Baan and J.D. Edwards - are working alongside Microsoft on a range of R&D initiatives. Such projects help to ensure that ERP products and functionality dovetail neatly with Microsoft's DNS concept, and can benefit fully from seamless integration within the DNS architecture.

 

All of this R&D activity, and close collaboration with the major ERP vendors and ISVs, is driving the development of an industry-wide standards-based approach to ERP knowledge management. Microsoft is playing a leading role in enabling such an approach, based squarely on an e-commerce platform.

 

 


Standards

 

Introduction

Microsoft technologies, and the DNS framework they support, are truly industry standard. This means, for example, that existing investments in desktop applications are protected, and that organisations have an opportunity to exploit their ERP solutions long into the future. The key to the Microsoft approach is integration: across Microsoft software, platforms and technologies, and by linking seamlessly with any other systems required. The end result is to maximise value from both existing and planned investments.

 

For example, Microsoft technologies are particularly well suited to serving the needs of the extended enterprise, scaling up as required. The Windows environment can slot into and deliver major benefits at each stage of the supply chain: from Windows CE for hand-held devices, through terminals, portables, desktop PCs and workstations to servers, server clusters, and the very heart of the data centre.

 

Windows 2000

The next generation of Windows, designed to support new types of business computing while continuing to lower the cost of ownership, Windows 2000 will be the key computing platform as companies embrace the digital economy. It will form the basis of Microsoft solutions that are optimised for ERP.

 

Windows 2000 Server is a comprehensive Internet and applications platform, providing increased reliability, availability and scaleability with end-to-end management features that reduce operating costs. A complete set of infrastructure services, based on the Active Directory, simplifies management, strengthens security and extends interoperability, delivering a centralised way to manage complex ERP and SCM environments. This fully scaleable solutions is designed to meet multiple needs; the Standard edition is designed for small-to-medium sized businesses, while the Advanced and Datacenter editions enable organisations to scale right up to the data centre.

 

For desktop users, Windows 2000 Professional is the easiest, most powerful and reliable Windows operating system to date. In terms of optimising ERP solutions, it is designed to support more effective ways of working through applications transparency, complete interoperability, full web integration, and features that enable simpler systems set-up and management.


Independent industry analysts the Gartner Group, have already stated that Windows 2000 is "enterprise-ready". Furthermore, research undertaken by InformationWeek indicates that emerging enterprises "will adopt Windows 2000 significantly more quickly than other business" to increase performance and reliability, improve scaleability and simplify administration. Such companies (defined as businesses with revenue between $6 million and $500 million) are growing significantly faster that other companies in the same sectors, and invest in "powerful, more functional, yet lower cost IT systems" to fuel their growth.

Manufacturing: FRAM Europe, The Netherlands

FRAM Europe supplies a huge range of automotive and machinery parts to importers and distributors across Europe - and the company's IT was creaking under the strain. In particular, no interaction was possible between applications. With the Microsoft DNS conecpt and Baan ERP solution, which relies on Internet and intranet approaches, FRAM's entire automation infrastructure is now working in harmony. Customers need no longer maintain their own FRAM catalogues but simply retrieve information from FRAM's database, such as prices, alternative products and stocks. They can also order directly and check order status. "If you look at how efficient this new solution is and how much money and time we're saving with it, there's no doubt this is the best solution," says Eberhard Speer, MD of FRAM Europe. "Our customers are very happy, which generates a lot of turnover."

 
 


Windows DNA

Designed for corporate developers and ISVs, the Windows Distributed interNet Applications (DNA) architecture provides the fundamental building blocks for a DNS, and is the key to unlocking the potential of ERP implementations. The application development model for the Windows platform, DNA is the point where distributed computing and the Web come together.

 

As a unified framework for providing distributed applications, Windows DNA specifies how to develop robust, scaleable, distributed applications using the Windows platform. It can be used to extend existing data and external applications to support the Internet, and to support a wide range of client devices - therefore maximising the reach of an application. As such, Windows DNA helps to deliver on the promise of e-commerce for all.

 

COM technologies: bringing openness to ERP

Microsoft Component Object Model (COM) based technologies - including DCOM (Distributed COM), COM+, Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS) and ActiveX Controls - open up the ERP environment, enabling organisations to leverage tools in their ERP-DNS to meet precise requirements . The result is an infrastructure that is as flexible as an organisation needs it to be.

 

Designed to deliver cross-platform compatibility and speed application development, COM enables organisations and developers to develop and then "plug" best of breed, proprietary and third party software solutions into their ERP-DNS infrastructure. High levels of customisation mean organisations can address their specific organisational, market and process needs, not to mention budgets and time scales. In short, COM technologies provide for "componentised" ERP solutions that are "open" by definition.

Having this capability is particularly important in ERP as the marketplace becomes increasingly fragmented, and as software vendors develop and deliver industry- and company-specific solutions to complement and extend core ERP functionality. Recognised market leaders such as SAP and Baan are already "componentising" their solutions; this increasingly granular approach, enabled by COM technologies, reduces both the costs of integration and the risks of project failure.


In addition, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) smoothes the customisation and automation of packaged applications - which means, for example, even greater integration of Back Office solutions with the Office desktop and through to, say, all customer-facing applications.

 

The XML Standard and BizTalk

Microsoft is actively involved in defining the emerging XML (Extensible Markup Language) standard - the language of e-commerce. XML holds enormous promise for organisations that want to integrate ERP systems and processes within a DNS/e-commerce framework - and in doing so, achieve universal communications with anyone, anywhere.

 

Microsoft is providing XML support through its BizTalk development; BizTalk is a broadly accepted, easy-to-use e-commerce framework that will enable millions of companies to trade on the Internet. It builds on the Commerce Interchange Pipeline (CIP) to enable full integration across industries and between systems, regardless of platform, operating system or underlying technology. In effect, BizTalk delivers on the promise of traditional EDI (electronic data interchange) techniques to support more effective supply chain management (SCM), integrating the logistics chain and multiple business models to smooth business-to-business transactions.

 

Leading vendors such as Baan, Commerce One, J.D. Edwards, Navision, PeopleSoft, SAP, Scala, Staffware, TanData and others have already endorsed BizTalk. Microsoft has also announced that the Microsoft Commerce Platform, Office 2000, SQL Server, and Windows 2000 will use BizTalk XML schemas to store information about documents, and to integrate with BackOffice and Windows-based applications.

 

SQL Server

The flexibility, scaleability and performance of SQL Server 7.0 have led to growing numbers of ERP, SCM and CRM applications being developed for this database management system. Features and functionality in the latest release underline Microsoft's commitment to enterprise-level applications, and highlight its co-operation with key ERP vendors.

 

SQL Server provides the strongest possible foundations for fully integrated, ERP-focused DNS. It delivers a platform that, for example, seamlessly links the Microsoft Office suite through to web browsers, one that supports Internet, intranet and e-commerce applications, offers complete data warehousing capabilities, and simplifies mobile and distributed operational systems. It is also fully scaleable (various benchmark tests continue to prove its growing performance and scaleability) from laptops and small business servers, through to terabyte-sized data warehouses. In fact, SQL Server (along with other Microsoft technologies) has the steepest gradient in the industry in terms of increasing power and performance.


SQL Server includes integrated OLAP (on-line analytical processing) capabilities to normalise data from various transactional and legacy systems, and so enables faster, more "real life" multidimensional analyses and reporting. Together with integrated Data Transformation Services to automate the import, export and transformation of data from multiple sources, plus an integrated Data Repository, SQL Server provides an environment that is optimised for more effective decision support, business intelligence activities and analytical approaches such as data mining.

 

adidas-Solomon, Germany

Sports company adidas-Salomon has chosen SQL Server for Navision Financials. "We see the Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 option for Navision Financials as key in helping us meet our data warehousing needs on a country-by-country basis," says Klaus Müllner de Beer of adidas-Salomon AG in Germany, adding that this approach "will enable us to provide our subsidiaries around the world with a standardised enterprise solution. It also meets the needs of our data warehouse strategy and will decrease the implementation time and ease support, which should decrease our costs."

 
 


E-commerce is here

 

Introduction

E-commerce is fundamentally changing the way we look at business. With a technology and business strategy firmly based on the Internet, intranets and extranets, Microsoft is leading the way in defining the future of e-commerce. In doing so, it is helping to shape the development of ERP as we move towards ever more extended enterprises - in key areas such as SCM and CRM.

 

Microsoft is now delivering on the promise of traditional EDI, extending the reach of ERP solutions and making electronic trading communities accessible to all. In fact, as long ago as April 1998, Chris Stevens of the Aberdeen Group stated that "Microsoft is defining the shape of electronic commerce, and the people who do not recognise that now are the people who will be explaining it to their board later."

 

The business view versus customer view

Today, technological innovations like the phone, TV and the car are taken for granted - we have absorbed them into both our lifestyle and workstyle. Similarly, the Internet will ultimately be used to support a huge range of activities; people will use it to access information, buy products and services, plan trips, keep in touch with colleagues and friends, and more. In terms of the business the challenge, therefore, is to meet the needs of an employee's web workstyle - that is, how they choose to (and are able to) use web technologies to support their business activities, whatever they may be. Microsoft's BizTalk initiative will provide the key to this.

 

And because the Web will soon extend into many more businesses and homes (IDC, for example, predicts more than 500 million adult users on the Internet by 2005 - there are already 44 million in Europe), it will be equally important for an organisation to deploy the Web to meet consumer needs, and reflect them in their ERP-DNS approaches. This means being in a position to address their web lifestyle.

 

Microsoft supports both views.


With an e-commerce-based approach to linking ERP systems and processes across the enterprise and its supply chains, via a common infrastructure, Microsoft solutions will enable organisations to use their ERP systems to empower employees like never before. Perhaps more importantly, organisations can also deploy their ERP systems and data as a key part of their strategies to build ever-stronger relationships with business partners and end customers. This means having the ability to optimise activities across key areas such as: direct marketing, selling and services; financial and information services; corporate procurement; and the value chain.

Retail: Vision Express, UK

Vision Express, one of the UK's fastest growing retailers, chose SAP Retail on a Microsoft platform for its new enterprise-wide information system. This fully integrated system, that supports both financial and merchandising requirements, runs on NT servers and replaces the existing mix of systems that was beginning to restrict the company's growth. A key advantage of this approach is that it guarantees a "single version of the truth" across the business - some 165 plus stores in the UK and 79 in Europe. The system takes sales information from every store each day, and feeds it to head office to support financial, stock control and replenishment systems, providing managers with accurate and up-to-date information. A reduction in the number of software interfaces, meanwhile, meant a significant reduction in system overheads.

 
 


Supply Chain Management (SCM)

For many organisations today, ERP is spelt "SCM" for supply chain management. For them, ERP is about optimising every stage of the SCM cycle - from planning through execution to logistics. The imperative today is to cut through the complexity of supply chains, to speed information flow, and ensure the seamless integration of suppliers, partners and customers within efficient (and cost-effective) trading communities. ERP has, in the past, been seen as a way of achieving this. It is only today, however, that an increasingly wired world is making this vision a reality.

 

At every stage of the supply chain, people want access to all the information they need to make the best decisions, and to react to events in the fastest and most appropriate ways. This is what a DNS enables, through an infrastructure that unites people, processes, customers and partners within a single, powerful framework.

 

 

Partners

 

Introduction

DNS is all about collaboration - uniting the enterprise and its diverse software and hardware within a common, powerful infrastructure that is optimised for knowledge management. The final critical element needed to deliver ERP-DNS solutions also lies in collaboration - with the leading ERP vendors themselves, and with the growing army of ISVs (in particular, those serving the mid-market).

 

Microsoft has forged, and continues to develop, exceptionally strong relationships with such companies.

 

Partnering for success

Microsoft's strategy has long been to support partners in all fields - from business applications vendors, systems integrators and consultants to hardware vendors and IT service providers. This approach enables customers, irrespective of their size, to select best in class solutions that meet their operational and strategic business needs, time scales and investment criteria, both within the enterprise and across extended supply chains.

 

Healthcare: Waterland Hospital, The Netherlands

The 330-bed Waterland Hospital at Purmerend was the first Dutch hospital to choose SAP's Industry Solution for Hospitals (IS-H), a sophisticated hospital information system that supports patient management, department management, admissions planning, billing and hospital controlling. The hospital wanted a strong technological infrastructure that enabled integration between financial, logistical and hospital-specific systems - and it also wanted an open architecture to ensure excellent communication with external systems. The solution lay in Windows NT Server running on Compaq hardware. "We have been struck by significant improvement in management of our services such as patient and department management, and billing," says Cor Peen, IT manager. "As for our ever-increasing need for management information - well, we can meet it easily."

 
Microsoft maintains close relationships with all of the leading ERP vendors, and many more specialised providers. These include Baan, Geac, J.D. Edwards, Lawson, Navision, PeopleSoft, Sage, SAP, Solomon Software and Systems Union.

 

Organisations such as these recognise that Microsoft has something new to offer the world of ERP: an infrastructure that augments, extends and enhances their own product portfolios. And, based on Microsoft software and technologies, a huge range of ISVs are now delivering industry and activity-specific ERP applications to support critical areas such as manufacturing, CRM and SCM, and to enhance key activities such as logistics, transportation, distribution and warehouse management. All are brought together within a DNS to help drive a more effective business - as opposed to a business that is merely efficient.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Microsoft products, technologies and partnerships are designed to extend and enhance an organisation's ERP capabilities, helping businesses to become as effective as they are efficient. This can mean rapid and measurable returns on ERP and all other ERP related investments.

Properly implemented, a DNS framework should enable organisations to achieve key corporate objectives such as:

         Improved business processes and increased productivity across the board, enabled by the integration of ERP with a DNS/e-commerce approach; and, as a result, the ability to compete more effectively on a local, national or global scale;

         The opportunity to increase (and constantly refine) competitive advantage, so organisations can continue to compete successfully;

         Placing customers at the centre of the business - retaining more customers and increasing their lifetime value through improved CRM means greater profits in the long term; and

         Building market share, increasing profitability in general terms, and maximising shareholder value.

 

It is important to remember that ERP systems no longer have to be "monolithic". By effectively "commoditising" the technology infrastructure required to link the core components of ERP - to enable organisations to derive greater value from their ERP investments, and benefit from a totally open architecture - Microsoft has made ERP knowledge management, and all of the benefits covered above, accessible to organisations ranging from small and medium-sized enterprises to global corporations.

 

What is more, organisations can rest assured that a Microsoft infrastructure is not only powerful enough to meet their ERP, SCM and CRM needs today, but it will also scale up to address their changing business needs and process requirements.

 

Affordability and total cost of ownership (TCO) are equally important issues, especially considering the significant investments that organisations make in implementing ERP systems and processes. Microsoft's DNS concept is not only designed to provide a highly cost-effective approach, but can also actively contribute to a lower and more easily controlled TCO through, for example, ease of management and deployment, and reduced training costs. Many industry observers agree: for example, independent analysts the Gartner Group have reported that SQL Server 7.0 offers a breadth of functionality at a fraction of the cost of Oracle.

 

By linking ERP across the enterprise, and by incorporating any other systems required plus other interested parties along the extended supply chain, organisations can, in short, control costs, increase productivity, achieve a lower TCO, deliver superior customer service, and embrace e-commerce futures. And with a digital dashboard to control the business via a single enterprise portal - the web browser - Microsoft promises a new age of ERP knowledge productivity for all.

 

Microsoft: delivering on the promise of ERP

         High performance, integrated and fully scaleable best in class ERP environments that are optimised for SCM and CRM

         Linking core ERP functionality to ensure the holistic whole is greater than the sum of its parts

         Affordable and future-proofed solutions that reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) while ensuring a rapid and measurable ROI (return on investment)

         Exceptional price/performance ratios - and performance benchmarks that continue to rise

         A truly open yet standards-based architecture to incorporate and optimise a mix of software, hardware systems and best of breed solutions - such cross-platform compatibility enables improved business agility

         Complete web enablement - with the browser as a digital dashboard "front-end" - improves accessibility to ERP systems and processes, and so enhances business control

         The emerging standard for global e-commerce - delivering on the promise of traditional EDI to address web workstyles and lifestyles

         Easy to use solutions that increase productivity, simplify management and reduce systems overheads

         Promoting and enabling real-time collaboration across the extended enterprise and along complex supply chains

         Familiar tools mean no cultural changes are required, and training is kept to a minimum

         Microsoft's DNS concept, technologies and approaches for ERP are endorsed by all of the leading ERP vendors, plus hardware manufacturers and many hundreds of independent software vendors (ISVs)

 

For more information visit the Microsoft EMEA Industry Solutions web site at

http://www.microsoft.com/europe/industry/erp/.


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