Will Adonix Provide A Warmer Home To CIMPRO?

TOTALsupplychain Evaluation Center
Feb. 14, 2003

On December 19, Adonix (www.adonix.com), a privately held French enterprise applications provider for mid-sized mixed-mode manufacturing and distribution companies, announced that it has acquired CIMPRO, a Tarrytown, NY subsidiary of MAI Systems Corporation (NASDAQ: NOW), a provider of business solutions primarily to the hospitality industry. Adonix will reportedly assume all CIMPRO employees, net assets, technology (including flagship CIMPRO V process ERP product), and contractual rights to all 250 customers and business partners. The vendor believes the combination of its X3 flagship ERP solution (primarily for discrete manufacturers) and CIMPRO V will bring to the legacy replacement market a powerful offering tailored for specific process industries such as the chemical, pharmaceutical and food & beverage sectors. CIMPRO, standing for Computer Integrated Manufacturing for Process, is specifically designed to address the needs of these process industries.

Market Impact

While not necessarily a ‘dream team’ combination, this is still a matrimony that both partners enter with fervent expectations. Also, while neither party is blatantly taking advantage of the other one, CIMPRO might have had much more motives for a marriage of convenience. Although being one of the first original products written to satisfy the exacting requirements of process manufacturing, CIMPRO has had an unfortunate childhood, due to being frequently disowned by its parents and/or siblings. Namely, the second last ex-owner, former Datalogix spent its last few independent years during the mid 1990s (prior to its acquisition by Oracle) focused almost exclusively on its erstwhile high-end Global Enterprise Manufacturing Management System (GEMMS), an ERP system for Fortune 1000 process manufacturers, which has so far been rolled into current Oracle E-Enterprise 11i suite, and represents the foundation for Oracle’s process manufacturing product.

Datalogix had meanwhile treated the older and then less attractive mid-market (ironically, little did everyone know then about today’s mid-market opportunity) CIMPRO system as the proverbial ugly step-child, whose poor image was further compounded during Oracle’s subsequent attempts to sell it expeditiously to potential buyers, while nobody felt duty bound to meanwhile communicate the development plans to CIMPRO users or the market overall. Due to constraints imposed during Datalogix' pre-Oracle financial struggles, CIMPRO users had generally suffered from inadequate service and support. While CIMPRO's straightforwardness might have allowed some users to become self-sufficient except for upgrade delivery and periodic phone support, under Datalogix and Oracle ownership, even these two areas had become problematic.

With MAI Systems' acquisition in 1997, many of these missteps and poor marketing problems have had the opportunity to be resolved. However, CIMPRO’s predicament under MAI Systems had not changed much either, given MAI’s main focus on the quite unrelated gaming & hospitality industry and the presence of a competitive, also antiquated process ERP sibling, MANBASE, within MAI’s fold.

As a result, with only a dozen employees and only a few developers during the last few years, CIMPRO has remained based on very old and/or proprietary technologies (some of which could be traced back to the vintage 1980's like the IDOL Business Basic development tool to run on the IDOL database), with quite bland and ‘fat client’ graphical user interface (GUI), whose some parts still resemble the glorified ‘green screen’ metaphor, and it has remained confined to the US market.

Professional services personnel appear to be quite capable and generally appreciated by customers though, but their numbers have been skeletal and they are often unavailable straight away. The partnerships with some accounting systems providers, such as Microsoft Business Solutions, to bolster the process manufacturing capabilities of their products (i.e., Great Plains) has not helped CIMPRO much either in its quest to break away from painful anonymity abyss. Read more about Adonix at TOTALsupplychain Evaluation Center.

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