The timing of this story is prescient. Coincidentally, Dick Hirsch has plans to research SAP's industry solutions for the cloud.
— Dick Hirsch (@rhirsch) April 24, 2014
A little harsh perhaps but then I have proof points.
Plex is growing at a good clip and now boasts 1,100 manufacturing operations in 20 countries. Crucially, it draws customers from everywhere along the size spectrum: from modest mom and pop operations all the way up to Caterpillar - with the same codeline.
Does Plex fit in any manufacturing business? No but what impresses me is the depth of expertise they have inside the business. One of the co-founders is still with the business. That makes him a 23 year veteran. Others have many years' experience and in vertical markets, experience is something you can't buy. You either have it or you don't. Put in Plex speak:
Manufacturing is in our DNA. If that makes us Rust Belt residents, we’re okay with that.
And so am I.
During our recent analyst day, I met Inteva, a large scale customer who was more than happy with the solution. At the time, I noted that the CIO started out skeptical Plex could meet their needs. Today, he's a rabid fan. Late last year, I met several other customers who all shared the same story. You can boil it down to these few words: Plex delivers.
For its part the company claims this enthusiastic experience is common among its customers. While I have no reason to doubt what they say, I will be testing this at the company's upcoming customer conference.
Having said all that, why make a fuss on this?
We have a firm belief that the next real shift in the enterprise will be heavily skewed towards vertical markets and that much of the action will be in the mid-market which has often been under-served.
I base this thinking upon six factoids.
- Infor is pushing hard around its many verticals.
- The problems faced by mid-market businesses are just as complex as those faced by their bigger cousins.
- The global 2000 are pretty much done with ERP. SAP's recent results should be enough indication of that.
- Things I see in the field and as confirmed by colleagues strongly indicate we are in the right stage of the technology investment cycle to expect plenty of replacement.
- The emergence of cloud and the ability to connect and leverage sensor technology offers companies an opportunity to leapfrog where they are at today.
- The prevailing mood I see is not one of looking for simple replacement but serous value add. Cloud solutions make more sense for these types of customer.
We want to be at the leading edge of such changes as they will be far more nuanced and interesting than simply acquiring a fresh set of financials. That's one reason among many that we are delighted to have Plex on board. We will both learn.