Alerts Signal American Software's Focus on E-Business

American Software—an Atlanta-based AS/400 ERP solutions provider—has announced the adoption of Categoric Software's (Sterling, Va.) alert technology across its entire product line. The initiative strengthens American Software's relationship with Categoric, which, in October 1999, provided an instant-alert system for integration with e-Intelliprise—American Software's front-to-back office enterprise solution.

Alerts facilitate responsiveness by enabling users to set criteria for highly variable information in categories ranging from shipping to receiving.
By expanding its use of alerts, American Software is responding to an ever-growing need within the midrange e-business sector for increased responsiveness to fluctuations in critical business information. Mary Haigis, VP of Marketing for American Software, says, "E-business is making business move faster, so you need to be able to respond immediately."

Alerts, Haigis explains, facilitate responsiveness by enabling users to set criteria for highly variable information in categories ranging from shipping to receiving. Triggered by changes in such information, alerts deliver real-time notification to mobile decision-makers via e-mail, pager, cell phone, fax, Internet, or PDA.

"This is not BI per se," says Haigis. "But it's the next level of BI." Haigis defines BI as data analysis, and describes alerts as more proactive. With alerts, according to Haigis, physically analyzing data isn't necessary to identify issues. She explains that when key business indicators extend beyond the predetermined criteria, an alert will be sent to relevant decision makers.

However, Haigis doesn't discredit the value of BI, but claims that in order to create an "agile organization," which has the ability to respond to situations in an instant, "BI and alerts must coexist." Working together, she explains, alerts will improve the quickness of response time, while traditional BI practices will help prepare for future occurrences.

Haigis claims alert technology represents a big benefit for American Software's manufacturing solution. For instance, she explains, when practicing just-in-time inventory, "You need to know when a product hits the dock." Alerts streamline the just-in-time process, keeping relevant personnel informed at every point along the path to fulfillment. So, Haigis says, just-in-time becomes a more manageable method of operation.

Another beneficial feature of the alert add-on, says Haigis, is its customizability. She cites back ordering as an example, saying, "You could tell the system to send you an alert when you go into back order, but first check these three sites." By configuring the alerts with unique criteria and reference material, Haigis explains, much of the tedious work traditionally handled by personnel along the supply chain can be performed automatically.

In addition, Haigis says, American Software is expected to announce, prior to June 1, that e-Intelliprise is fully WML-ready, which will allow users to respond to alerts remotely.

According to Tom Cook, Senior Analyst with AMR Research specializing in e-business applications, by fortifying its alliance with Categoric, American Software is showing its commitment to e-business. He calls alerts "a growing trend … becoming necessary, especially for ERP systems."

Although Cook praises American Software's rapid implementation of alert technology, he is quick to point out, from an overall perspective, it has been slow to embrace the e-business movement. As a result, Cook says, American Software remains behind its competition in several key areas of e-business, including portaling and CRM.

In an attempt to address this deficiency, American Software has Web-enabled e-Intelliprise, and, just within the past month, announced the release of a new B2B trading portal for the Web-based ERP solution. The new offering permits collaborative trading with RFQ (request for quotes) and bid functionality.

"It's not something they can't overcome," Cook explains. "They just may not have gotten the mindshare that comes with an early adapter."

American Software's alert-ready data marts are priced at a flat rate ranging from $10,000-$35,000.

Related Information:

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