The Baan killer from Cincinnati, Ohio

 In Industry News
Cincom (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA), a provider of ERP solutions, has accepted the invitation from Microsoft to become the provider of a new suite of Dynamics AX based solutions for the complex order-driven manufacturing industries.

For more than 40 years Cincom has been in the business of providing Business Operations Management and ERP solutions for discrete order-driven manufacturers who are challenged by complex business processes, products or markets.  Cincom’s proprietary solution CONTROL™ is currently the ERP platform for companies such as Diageo Scotland Ltd., Harris Corporation, Michelin, TRANE and many other leading complex manufacturers.

Teaming up with Microsoft

On March 19th this year Cincom announced an agreement with Microsoft under which Cincom will assume the role as global [slider title=”ISV”] Independent Software Vendor [/slider] for discrete complex order-driven manufacturing solutions based on Dynamics AX.

Louis Columbus, Director of ERP Marketing, Cincom

We have agreed with Microsoft to develop the additional functionality required to make Dynamics AX the preferred ERP solution for the discrete complex order-driven manufacturing industries worldwide, says Louis Columbus, Senior Manager, Enterprise Marketing with Cincom. We will make this solution available to the current Microsoft AX partner channel enabling them to compete more effectively with the other players currently holding this market.

The market for discrete manufacturing ERP solutions remains fragmented with names like SAP, Oracle and Infor topping the list. With the depth of expertise and functionality that Cincom seems to be providing in their AX-based suite of applications, Microsoft, finally, has a product that provides an alternative to the established players.

The initial release is expected launched by the end of 2012.

The partner opportunity and challenge

Working the ERP market through a partner channel is new to Cincom. The company has a direct go-to-market approach for its’ proprietary CONTROL™ based solutions. The company uses a partner channel approach for other solutions and is now in the process of transferring those skills to the ERP division.

We have also chosen to work with Microsoft and Dynamics AX because we see the multiplication opportunity of the current partner channel worldwide, says Louis Columbus. We can scale market penetration much faster than if we had to build our own implementation infrastructure. However, we realize that enabling the partner channel to bootstrap the value chain associated with finding, winning and keeping customers happy also requires a major effort on our behalf.

Cincom is currently preparing training and support programs and materials for the new partners and also plans to establish a Cincom University helping new partners to get through the learning curve as fast and efficiently as possible.

The partners will be supported by the Cincom subsidiaries ensuring that the support is close by, can be provided in the local language and within the local cultural framework and time zone.

We know that the most critical threshold for any product in a channel partner framework is getting sales bootstrapped, emphasizes Louis Columbus. I obviously cannot reveal the details, but we are working on a program ensuring that our channel partners can accelerate the sales process and shorten the “time-to-revenue” as much as possible.

Cincom has worked closely with Microsoft identifying the most appropriate partners for the launch. The initial launch will be worldwide, with specific focus on the U.S. and European markets.

As we do not have to worry about localization, we will select the countries based on where we get the best partner fit, says Louis Columbus. Finding partners who share our passion and vision for getting the lions share of this market is much more important than where they are located.

Going for gold

Cincom is preparing an attack on a segment of the ERP market, which has so far not been available to Microsoft. Although Dynamics AX has been designed for managing multi-site manufacturing and global supply chains, there is still a long way to go to match the facilities provided by Infor, SAP and Oracle. It is the objective of Cincom to add the required functionality, enabling Dynamics AX to compete effectively with the current market leaders.

We know what it takes to serve these markets, says Louis Columbus. We understand the market requirements and over the last 40 years we have demonstrated that we can make attractive products for this market. We also understand the sales process and the services needed to make and keep customers happy.  Together with Microsoft and selected Dynamics AX partners we are in this market to win gold medals. We will do what it takes to become one of the leading vendors worldwide.

“Cincom CONTROL™ for AX”

Cincom CONTROL has the ability to tailor financial information to the precise role-based needs of enterprises while simplifying their most complex manufacturing challenges.

The AX based product will be an extension to the Cincom product line and will be exclusively provided through the Dynamics AX partner channel. The company will continue the current proprietary product line CONTROL™ and serve the top-end of the market through its’ own direct sales channel.

Cincom’s AX development signals an acceleration of this vendor’s approach to capturing market share in discrete complex order-driven manufacturing enterprises with global operations. Microsoft’s partner base has the ability to traverse mid-tier manufacturing companies to globally based manufacturing enterprises.  Cincom is purpose-building their suite of applications to scale to global enterprises, so Microsoft’s largest resellers can confidently partner with and prosper with these solutions.

The suite of applications that Cincom is developing on AX today will give them the potential to reach global manufacturing enterprises through partnerships with Dynamics AX resellers.  Cincom is busy translating their strong expertise in discrete order-driven manufacturing into a suite of applications based on the AX platform, broadening their base of functionality in the process.

Our perspective on the Cincom endeavor

Partner bootstrapping will be the critical phase for Cincom. Although there is a well-established and experienced base of Dynamics AX partners in Europe, moving into the home turf of Infor, SAP and Oracle will not be easy.

Selling to this market requires domain expertise and product experience; something that the partners will have to acquire first to compete effectively against the established players in the market.  Cincom seems to be taking the challenges very seriously and are apparently prepared to invest in accelerating the process though intensive partner support. They also need to be patient; it will not happen over night and it can be hard to predict how fast they can achieve a bridgehead.

Choosing the role as ISV is a smart move by Cincom.  Most of the Dynamics VAR partners who make an attempt at doing ISV business fail. They fail because they overlook the difference in the strategic DNA of being a VAR and an ISV and they underestimate the apprehension against cooperation in the VAR community.

If Cincom is capable of keeping the direct business with their proprietary CONTROL™ solution clearly separated from their AX activities, we believe they stand a good chance of being successful. They certainly approach the challenges with open eyes and seem to understand that it takes much more than a product to conquer this market. Cincom seem to have the skills, the size, the resources and the commitment required to drive such an endeavor.

At this stage I think we can congratulate Microsoft. They have been able to win a partner who may be able to open doors to a segment of the ERP market, which so far was hermetically sealed.

About Cincom

For more than 40 years, Cincom Systems has provided software to simplify and improve business operations and customer communications.

Cincom problem-solving software, services and people have helped thousands of companies all over the world grow and manage their businesses.

Founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincom headquarters remain there to this day. Cincom enterprise technologies include:

  • Application Development Software
  • Contact Center Software
  • Database Management Software
  • Document Automation Software
  • Healthcare Software
  • Manufacturing ERP Software
  • Selling Solution Software

You can find more information at

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