Unit4 doubles down on APAC business

Supplier of mid-market ERP systems Unit4 is investing in a research and development centre in Jakarta as part of efforts to win market share from established players

Mid-market enterprise resource planning (ERP) software provider Unit4 is ramping up its investments in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, starting a new research and development (R&D) centre in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta.

Noting that the centre is still being built up, Andy Brockhoff, president of Unit4 in Asia-Pacific, said plans are afoot to enhance the company’s support and localisation capabilities as it seeks to expand its footprint in the region.

“There’s continued recognition that there is a great talent hub here in the region, and we want to continue building that out,” Brockhoff said, adding that the centre will build on the “world-class” work of local teams.

Netherlands-based Unit4, which was acquired by global equity group TA Associates in March this year, has set itself a target to become a $10bn cloud ERP supplier in the mid-market segment. Much of its growth, however, has been in Europe.

“In Europe, we’re a bit of a household brand, especially in the Nordics, the UK or any of those core markets,” Brockhoff said. “In Asia, and Australia specifically, we’re still not there yet.”

Brockhoff noted that Unit4’s growth in the region has been “sort of cruising along and we’re really looking to try to bend the curve”.

Besides pouring more resources into the region, Unit4 is also counting on its technology chops to move the needle in the ERP market.

It recently launched its next-generation ERPx offering, which it claims will make it easier for businesses to make changes to their ERP systems through automation, artificial intelligence and low-code and no-code capabilities, with a focus on integration.

“One of the key costs around any ERP platform is integration with other solutions,” Brockhoff said, noting that organisations are now looking for more flexibility as they modernise their ERP systems.

Still, in mature markets like Singapore and Australia, where Unit4 is looking to grow its ERP business, it is up against formidable rivals, including SAP which has started to introduce modular cloud ERP offerings. Brockhoff said Unit4 will continue to grab market share from established players, particularly in the public sector.

“We do have one or two public sector entities here in Australia that we’ve already started to work with,” Brockhoff said, adding that there is a “huge opportunity” to bring the best practices of Unit4’s customers in other regions to Australian companies.

Switching ERP systems, however, is no mean feat for enterprises saddled with legacy software customisations and other competing priorities. Brockhoff said to ease those concerns, Unit4 makes it a point to show customers a migration pathway, more than selling a solution.

That involves adding a level of personalisation to its relationship with customers, and from a technology perspective, enabling customers to build things outside of the Unit4 platform if they choose to, and plug them in through microservices, Brockhoff said.

Unit4’s R&D centre in Jakarta signals the company’s interest in the region’s emerging markets. When asked if there are greenfield markets that the company is eyeing, Brockhoff said it has to scale up first before it enters new markets.

“The question becomes not just about localisation, currency and language – you’d also need to build the appropriate support structures, like marketing support and everything else that goes with it,” Brockhoff said.

Read more about cloud ERP in APAC

  • Vallen Asia’s cloud ERP system has enabled it to scale its operations across the region and made its supply chain operations more resilient amid the pandemic.
  • A top SAP executive claims that the APAC region is leading the way in the Rise with SAP cloud transformation programme which has been bolstered with modular cloud enterprise resource planning offerings.
  • Infor’s Nexus unit has been supporting digitalisation efforts in Asia’s supply chain industry before the Covid-19 pandemic, which has accelerated adoption of cloud-based offerings in the region.
  • Microsoft dives deeper into its industry cloud strategy and what it means for enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region.

Read more on Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software

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