Event: CUE 07 (Lawson conference and user exchange)
What: St. Paul, Minnesota-based software company Lawson provides software and service products to 4,000 customers in manufacturing, distribution, maintenance and service sector industries across 40 countries. Human resource applications are part of Lawson’s portfolio of products, which also includes supply-chain management and customer relationship management software. A milestone for the company was last year’s merger with European software company Intentia.
Where: San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina and the San Diego Convention Center
When: March 4-7, 2007
Conference info: For information about Lawson, go to www.lawson.com.
Day 1—Monday, March 5, 2007
Aiming high: Lawson officials touted a bold goal at meetings here: be the top vendor of HR software in the world. Dean Hager, senior vice president of product management, told analysts and reporters that Lawson plans to outdo big guns SAP and Oracle even as it offers a better alternative to the throngs of talent management software specialists. "We want to be No. 1," Hager said. "We see a jugular vein and we’re going to invest and go after it."
It may be true there’s uncertainty in the HR software arena as Oracle hammers out its Fusion applications, which are designed to blend the best of the company’s various product lines. And organizations looking to buy software from niche vendors in performance management, recruiting or learning management face the difficulty of integrating those talent management applications with core HR and other software systems.
But Lawson has a huge gap to close in its quest. According to AMR Research, Lawson ranked fifth in human capital management revenue in 2005 with $104 million, behind Sage Group, Kronos, SAP and Oracle. The two top players, though, had revenue that dwarfed Lawson’s, according to AMR Research: Oracle’s was roughly $1.4 billion and SAP’s was nearly $1.3 billion.
"We’ve got a long ways to go," Hager conceded.
Best in suite? Lawson’s strategy centers on creating HR applications that are higher-quality than those from Oracle and SAP, yet better integrated than those from the smaller talent management vendors. Larry Dunivan, the company’s vice president for human capital management, calls the approach a "best of suite" strategy. That’s a twist on the "best of breed" phrase used by specialists.
So far, it’s hard to judge how well Lawson will do. A key will be a set of Lawson applications under development that focus on global HR, talent acquisition, performance management and compensation.
What is it about penguins and software execs? For the second time in the past 12 months, a software executive has shared the stage with penguins. Last year, Oracle’s Larry Ellison greeted the endearing birds during a speech in San Francisco focused on a Linux-related service (the penguin is the mascot for the Linux software operating system). And at Lawson’s CUE event, Lawson chief executive Harry Debes had penguin visitors during his conference-opening presentation from nearby SeaWorld. Debes managed to get a few laughs with this joke about a penguin walking into a pharmacy. As Debes told it, the penguin says, "I’d like some ChapStick please, and you can put it on my bill."