Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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10/31/2007
07:21 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Could Your Next ERP System Come From China?

Ufida is a $150 million-a-year ERP company that's China's largest domestic enterprise software vendor. I talked with Ufida's VP of international business about its plan to come to the United States.

Ufida is a $150 million-a-year ERP company that's China's largest domestic enterprise software vendor. I talked with Ufida's VP of international business about its plan to come to the United States.Ufida has hired Lionbridge Technologies to translate its software to English, and it's also adding functionality to deal with U.S. taxes, regulations, and business practices. Qiang Wu, VP of international business, says it will be two years before it tries to crack the North American market. In the meantime, Ufida's trying to expand beyond its 500,000 customers in mainland China through marketing in Japan, Singapore, and Thailand, as well as Hong Kong. The almost 20-year-old company has 4,000 employees, including about 1,500 developers in China.

What's Mr. Wu's pitch for North American companies? Well, he's got two years to hone it, but it boils down to being cheaper, and having close ties to the China market that U.S. companies covet. On the cost front, Mr. Wu says its licenses are about 20% less than SAP's, aimed at small and midsize businesses.

On the China angle, Mr. Wu notes, "More and more business transactions are with China," and Ufida can help companies as they grow sales or production in the country.

Sound like a stretch? NTT DoCoMo appears to think the company's worth partnering with. This week brings reports that NTT DoCoMo and Ufida are close to finalizing a joint venture to expand mobile e-commerce in the country:

NNTT DoCoMo and UFIDA Software Co. Ltd., one of the leading providers of management software solutions and services in Asia, are waiting for the final approval from Chinese authorities to establish a mobile e-commerce joint venture between the companies. ... UFIDA has announced its development strategy for mobile commerce in the Eastern China Region and will deploy the first large-sized mobile commerce platform in China.

Ufida has an English-language version of its ERP suite today, but "we think it's not so good," says Mr. Wu. The version Lionbridge will translate is due by the end of the year, the company's first suite to be SOA-based, with capabilities such as multicurrency and multiaccounting standards that are routine with established international ERP systems. This product is the first Ufida built specifically with international businesses in mind.

Think Chinese tech, and hardware vendors such as Lenova and Huawei inevitably leap to mind. Can Chinese software vendors come close to that success? I don't know. Ufida's fairly easy to dismiss as a small company today, with $150 million in sales. But 11 years ago, there was a company in India with almost exactly that same revenue. Today, Tata Consultancy Services does more than $4 billion a year.

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