The Power of One

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No, this is not about the companies that have used the slogan "The Power of One" to promote their software line. It is about the convergence of major applications into one desktop package. For the record, companies that have used the slogan include Solomon, when it was still independent, and Best Software, which adopted it last year.

This is about the convergence of front-end and back-end applications- ERP accounting and Customer Relationship Management to most of you-into a single code base. We won't be talking about individual applications in five years, probably even sooner.

Microsoft has announced a new schedule for Project Green, the plan to unify the code base for its four accounting packages. Many people thought this product might not see the light of day. But I doubt that what emerges will be the same as was originally conceived. Given how long ago Great Plains began work on the next-generation product, one that Microsoft turned into a project to unify the code bases for its four accounting products, it's hard to envision that anyone foresaw this trend when the development begin.

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We are already seeing such products with SAP's BusinessOne, on the market for two years, and Exact Software's e-Synergy, currently a Web-based CRM package that will incorporate the functions of the currently desktop-based Macola ES in what is scheduled to be a relatively short time. It's not hard to suspect Microsoft will move in the same direction, since its Microsoft CRM has an Outlook interface, as does the latest version of Navision and Great Plains. If nothing else, it's likely the MBS packages will look very similar and share features, even if the code remains separate.

A unified code suggests that the kinds of organizations that sell software will necessarily change. Part of the market has already shifted away from simply pushing GL/AR/AP, and the need to become more vertically oriented is well known.

Not every reselling group will need to adopt a systems integrator approach that such an integrated package will require. But who knows just how far the impact will go? It may seem the subject is only of interest to enterprise-size organizations or even the top of the mid-market. But technology has a way of working downstream as the state of the art gets better.

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