From Computer Business Review, a sister publication.
Computer Associates was the world’s third largest independent software company with revenues of $3.5bn in 1996. Nevertheless, since the shift in the business applications market away from the mainframe to open systems, the company has scarcely been viewed as a significant player in the integrated business applications sector. And most users are understandably surprised to find the company also occupying the number three spot in the business application vendors top ten on the back of estimated application revenues of $875m last year. Much of the reason for that lack of renown is the fact that CA refuses to break out its revenue figures by product line or business unit. Despite its sizable installed base, its applications offerings tend to get lost in the company’s huge portfolio of over 500 products, most of which are targeted at the systems and database market. The company is also seen as less pro-active than its counterparts in this sector, following rather than dictating industry trends. CA first got into the business applications market ten years ago with an accounting package called BPI. The key products behind the figures today, however, are Masterpiece, an open systems financial and distribution suite, AccPac, a PC-based accountancy package, and MK Manufacturing, which incorporates the ManmanX manufacturing package which it brought from ASK in 1994.
Lags behind competitors
Masterpiece, which was originally a mainframe-based product, was re-engineered for the open systems market in the early to mid 1990s and, according to CA, half of Masterpiece’s revenues now come from open systems. But while analysts say that Masterpiece offers broad functionality and a complete suite of integrated ledgers, they say that the product lags behind competitors in areas of leading edge functionality. The reason, says market analyst Ovum, is that CA’s key focus is exploiting its maintenance revenues rather than extending its user base. The company has, however, recently announced that a new web-enabled version of Masterpiece has gone into beta test, with delivery scheduled for later this year. The other key plank in CA’s business application business is MK Manufacturing, which now forms part of CA’s independent manufacturing subsidiary, the MK (standing for manufacturing knowledge) Group. According to CA, the MK Group has an installed base of 4,000 manufacturers worldwide offering three principal products, MK Manufacturing, MK Enterprise and MK Logistics, on a range of open systems platforms including Unix and NT. CA can claim to be an innovator in one area at least. Unsurprisingly, CA is probably one of the most advanced at combining highly integrated management capabilities with its product offerings. For example, in February of this year the company announced MK Enterprise, a combination of enterprise resource planning functionality and Unicenter, the company’s market leading systems management suite. Nevertheless, whether CA can realistically hold on to its number three spot when companies such as PeopleSoft and JD Edwards are snapping at its heels, is questionable.