Change and new tech at SYSPRO

Profile picture for user brianssommer By Brian Sommer July 3, 2019
Summary:
A recent analyst event from South African-headquartered ERP vendor SYSPRO was full of change: new leadership, faster growth initiatives and an update on the company’s SYSPRO Release 8.   

climbing stairs

SYSPRO is a long-time mid-market ERP player (founded 1978). It’s also quite global given its South African roots and depth of channel partners.  The company supports many verticals within manufacturing and distribution, including industrial machinery & equipment, manufacturing packaging, fabricated metal and electronics/electrical and food/beverage, which are its strongest sectors.

The company has been going through its own transformation of late. SYSPRO’s products were already in good shape, but now it:

  • Has new leadership – Geoff Garrett is now CEO of SYSPRO USA.
  • Is being organized around verticals & micro-verticals and away from geographic practices. This move alone will trigger partners to develop deeper add-ons/product extensions to the core product line and hopefully drive more sales success.  (see below)
  • Is NOT changing its focus on the customer and customer success (an attribute that has apparently helped it in competitive deals)

Growing Vertically

Moving from geographic/local, partner-led sales to an industry focus is a normal evolutionary step for many software firms. As smaller ERP vendors evolve from having partners in designated geographies that sell anything and everything they can within that area, these generalists can lose a number of deals to more specialized competitors that “speak the prospect’s industry” or have tailored these solutions to that prospect’s industry.

As soon as is practical, vendors will want to pivot to a vertical or micro-vertical focus as it brings depth of expertise to sales and implementations. Prospects want this familiarity from their solutions providers. They rarely want a jack of all trades and a master of none. Great consultancies/implementers make this pivot as well.

SYSPRO is making this change now. Customers and prospects should see increased vertical-industry expertise and new technology capabilities coming from SYSPRO’s partners in the near future.  This roadshow launched the new management (hired May 2019) and this new strategy, and we look forward to getting more details on how micro-vertical extensions will be built, marketed, etc.   

Advanced technology – from the customer’s mouth

Advanced technologies were prominent in this briefing. SYSPRO is clearly staking out its claim to the world of smart manufacturing.

SYSPRO discussed their long-term relationship with the California Manufacturing Technology Center (CMTC) and its planned membership in Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII). These two relationships are seen as key to providing ever greater (and lower cost) connections to all manner of smart devices and their digital exhaust. SYSPRO wants to create low-friction, low-latency, data-rich insights and applications for manufacturers.

Additionally, we heard of their continued efforts in IoT, bot technology, machine learning, etc.  While many ERP vendors express similar levels of ‘commitment’, it was a pleasure to have one of SYSPRO’s clients speak to their use of these technologies.

That customer was BKB (the world’s leading sheep shearer). They are a fairly large (225 user seat) SYSPRO deployment in the agricultural industry. BKB has other lines of business: livestock management and related businesses.  We got an overview of the 100-year-old company’s business challenges, including multiple pages of data points. We also saw BKB’s use of new technologies to track, for example, bags of sheared wool as they move from the sheep and onward through the value chain. The low cost to deploy these technologies means that small independent growers working with BKB can more effectively participate within (and profit from) the markets they sell into.

BKB’s IT executive Jaco Maas even shared with us some visual maps highlighting the digital transformation efforts they are undertaking and how they’ll change these markets and their constituents.

My take

I liked the new leadership at SYSPRO USA. The shift to industry verticals is absolutely correct and with over 15,000 licensed customers, I’d say it is a good time to do this. How quickly the partners make the shift will be something we will be watching for in future presentations. Likewise, there may be some product extension marketplace mechanics that may need further development in the near-term to really get this shift in full gear.

The advanced technology conversation was great as it is in stark contrast to the 50,000 ft. strategy talk most ERP vendors give. ERP buyers don’t need to hear that a vendor (with an expensive implementation partner) is someday going to deliver the framework of possibly achieving an IIoT connection. Buyers want to see, feel and experience testimony from a real customer, like SYSPRO presented, who is using the ERP technology to deliver the insights and connect to the new technologies in an impactful, low-cost and rapid manner.

My counsel to SYSPRO’s new leaders is to get firms like BKB on the big stage at their next user conference in September. An in-depth presentation to customers on how a customer’s business problems are being addressed, and frank discussions on the resources and time to implement these new technologies offers immense value to users and helps move adoption forward.   And, highlight the partners that are bringing the future to life, too. Customers and prospects eat this up!

Oh, and SYSPRO should videotape those demonstrations as they will want to use them on sales calls and I’ll want to point them to SYSPRO’s competitors who are still selling “the concept of an eventual interconnected business experience” – whatever that means….