Sky City up in air as merger sealed

As ERP market uncertainty eased slightly last week with the conclusion of PeopleSoft's acquisition of JD Edwards, the fate of a key local project remains up in the air.

As ERP market uncertainty eased slightly last week with the conclusion of PeopleSoft’s acquisition of JD Edwards, the fate of a key local project remains up in the air.

Sky City CIO Damian Swaffield (pictured) says the casino is still a month away from choosing an ERP supplier, after inviting bids late last year. The odds would seem to favour JDE winning the business, since JDE’s World software is in use by the company in Australia.

Swaffield has no comment on whether the PeopleSoft-JDE merger — and Oracle’s continuing bid to buy PeopleSoft — is having any influence on the casino’s decision.

“At this stage we’re not commenting; it’s an internal process.”

In December Swaffield told Computerworld half a dozen vendors had responded to the tender and the system would be implemented early in 2004.

Oracle’s effort to buy PeopleSoft, meanwhile, looked increasingly shambolic last week. Letters in US boss Larry Ellison’s name “reassuring” PeopleSoft New Zealand customers that Oracle had their interests at heart were mistakenly mailed before getting US approval (Oracle NZ jumps gun with Larry letter). The letters are intended to set right “misunderstandings” about Oracle’s intentions, says Oracle New Zealand marketing manager Nigel Murphy.

Oracle was reported as planning to stop selling PeopleSoft products when it first made its bid for the company. Murphy says “certain statements might have been misinterpreted or misunderstood”, with the help of PeopleSoft executives.

Trade & Enterprise New Zealand made a decision to stick with JD Edwards financials when the government agency was created from the merger of Trade NZ and Industry NZ on July 1. Wellington-based CIO Phil Hayward says Trade NZ was a JDE site, and the decision to deploy it within the new organisation was made before PeopleSoft made its move to acquire JDE.

Extending JDE, which has been “more of a data migration” than a full rollout, is costing less than $100,000. If PeopleSoft — or potentially, Oracle — puts the software out to pasture after only a couple of years, Hayward is satisfied the agency will have had its money’s worth.

“Nothing will happen for a couple of years,” Hayward says.

Even if it does, it will not be a major issue. “It’s only a financial system; we’re not using a huge amount of functionality.”

PeopleSoft hasn’t made its plans for JD Edwards’ portfolio clear. JD Edwards 5 includes ERP, CRM, supply chain and business management products.

According to Gartner Australia analyst Kristian Steenstrup, speaking to Computerworld when the acquisition plan was announced in early June, a merger of the two would work if their products are integrated.

“It would make sense to merge the products into a single architecture, a single technology, to make one marketable, deliverable product.”

While product development decisions are yet to be made, and the fate of Oracle’s bid is still months away, the conclusion of the JDE acquisition at least clears up one area of uncertainty. According to the head of IT at medical products supplier Johnson & Johnson, Kevin Thrower, that will be a relief for everyone.

“I pity anyone who is making an ERP purchase at present,” says Thrower, “because when there’s change there’s uncertainty, and possible price rises and retrenchments.”

Johnson & Johnson isn’t in the market for systems. The company is both a JDE and SAP user, and the New Zealand subsidiary takes its lead from the US. Thrower says there is a trend in the company towards consolidation of platforms, but no decisions have been held up by the PeopleSoft-JDE-Oracle situation.

“But I’m not sure what might happen in the future,” he says.

Pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme is in the unusual position of being both a JDE and PeopleSoft customer. Finance and IT director Shelley Fraser says PeopleSoft’s HR software was a local choice, while JDE financials are managed from the company’s Singapore office.

“Locally we don’t have anything to do with JDE,” Fraser says.

The merger of the two could lead to better deals for the company, she says.

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