Enterprise resource planning software packages are typically heavy-duty investments for running an entire business, and almost every enterprise-sized company relies upon some sort of ERP or business management software package.
Traditionally these packages can take more than a year to implement, and they are so deeply embedded in the business that once they are in place it's a monumental task to switch from one vendor to another vendor, particularly for big companies.
These packages of software applications can touch on accounting and financial management, product planning, inventory management, manufacturing, distribution, pricing, shipping, payment, marketing, and sales. These front end applications are used by employees throughout the organization, and they all use the same backend database as a repository.
Many of these packages have been in place for years, sometimes decades, and often customers follow the reliable upgrade paths provided by their chosen vendors.
But plenty has changed in the ERP space in the last decade. ERP vendors have consolidated, with smaller players snapped up by one of a handful of giants in the space. Meanwhile, many startup vendors have created industry-specific software suites, and the big players in the market have followed with their own vertical market packages.
[Looking to apply the lessons of Agile development to your enterprise? Read 8 Steps For Creating an Agile Enterprise.]
With the entry of cloud-based vendors, a new wave of market disruption may be underway. Giants such as SAP and Oracle are facing new competition from new vendors born in the cloud such as Workday and Salesforce. These cloud-based vendors are offering software-as-a-service based ERP and enterprise applications that are sold on a subscription basis rather than a software license basis. That means there's not the same capital investment up front for these systems.
These cloud-based systems, which are growing at a rapid pace, also allow vendors to provide software updates, improvements, and fixes at more regular cadences. These regular automatic updates eliminate the issues that come from enterprise customers that defer new capital investment in software and end up using on-premises software well past its prime.
Now even the traditional on-premises software giants such as SAP and Oracle are entering the cloud market with their own cloud-based versions of enterprise applications.
Take a look at our snapshot of the players in today's ERP market, from the traditional providers to the upstarts that are changing the way ERP is done. There are some big players here and a few that serve smaller businesses, because investing in the right ERP system is like investing in a vehicle. You don't want to buy a sports car if you have a family of 20 to transport.
There's no need to buy a superbus if you are a single person traveling alone. Here's a look at 10 ERP providers you should know. Tell us what you think in the comments. Do you agree with our selections? Did we leave any notable ones out?
[Editor's note: This entry for Salesforce in this article has been updated to clarify the relationship between the company and FinancialForce.]