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The future of corporate financial management software Back  
PricewaterhouseCoopers' recent worldwide assessment of technology usage made the following predictions for ERP, CRM and ASP software.
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
The increasing deployment of self-service Web applications and other customer-facing channels will drive the need for end-to-end, event-driven systems that can run transaction processes through CRM, ERP, and SCM applications. This same end-to-end processing will extend beyond enterprise boundaries; within the forecast period, some industries will extend these systems to encompass multiple layers of the supply and distribution chains.

The extension of enterprise end-to-end supply chain systems to handle the financial (payment and settlement) functions in parallel to the supply chain functions will begin, but not be completed, by the end of the forecast period. Agent functionality showing up initially in business-to-consumer retail applications on the Web will be incorporated into business-to-business applications.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
CRM systems will be implemented increasingly alongside existing ERP suites by orga nizations attempting to shift the focus of their applications from back-offlce to customer-facing.

The major ERP vendors will pursue differing strategies - acquisitions, alliances, and internal development - for adding CRM functionality to their product offerings. By the end of the forecast period, all major ERP suites will offer comprehensive CRM functionality.

Marketing automation software - which provides functionality such as customer data mining, marketing campaign management, one-to-one merchandising, customer seg mentation, and management of the product mix - will continue to grow in market size and importance throughout the forecast period as firms try to use the data and rela tionships created through CRM to create better-targeted marketing.

ASPs (Application Service Providers)
ASPs will be successful in selling their services to increasingly larger companies throughout the forecast period. However, they will have difficulty making inroads into Fortune 1000-scale enterprises because the need to offer custom functionality to such large and complex organizations will be inconsistent with the ASPs’ needs to offer standard versions of the packaged applications.

The line between ASPs and traditional outsourcing increasingly will blur throughout the forecast period.

All major corporate enterprise applications companies will offer hosted editions of their software by the middle of the forecast period.

ERP vendors increasingly are attempting to establish business-to-business portals to provide sources of new revenue, to increase the loyalty of their existing customer base by offering them new services, and to capture new customers (particularly among smaller companies). Portals such as mySAPcom and PeopleSoft Business Network are being constructed or already have been released (at least in preliminary form) by every major corporate applications vendor.

These portals will undergo significant evolution during the forecast period and, by the end of the period, will look very different than they do in their initial incarnations.

The ERP vendors will attempt to gain a competitive advantage in the portal market place by taking advantage of the identical systems employed by users of their ERP suites to create tighter inter-enterprise application integration than would otherwise be possible.

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