Unit4 unites ERP brands as Business World for services organisations

Unit4 has brought its Agresso, Coda and other products under a new banner, Business World

Unit4 has brought its Agresso, Coda and other products under a new banner, Business World.

José Duarte, Unit4 CEO, said traditional ERP [enterprise resource planning] has been too product-centric, and by focusing on services organisations, the company could realistically grow to hit and surpass €1bn in revenue in the next few years.

The supplier is calling Unit4 Business World a “people-centric ERP”. This will, it says, incorporate “mobile and social capabilities paired with predictive analytics and machine-learning, resulting in advanced business insights that proactively alert people to areas that require attention”.

As well as enfolding Agresso, Business World includes smaller functional business applications developed for the supplier's Swedish and Norwegian businesses.

Duarte, who has a deep SAP background, was CEO when private equity investor Advent International took Unit4 private in March 2014 in a $1.6bn deal. He has led a global standardisation of the company, and the unified rebranding is the latest stage of that.

Duarte said: “Unit4 is the sole enterprise applications supplier devoted to people-centric industries… Our new version of Unit4 Business World helps people transform the service and government organisations they work for by helping them collaborate, make decisions and focus on the activities that really matter.”

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The supplier said it has chosen to focus on six services industries: professional services, government, higher education, not for profit, real estate and wholesale.

Underpinning the ERP is what Unit4 calls a “people platform”, which consists of four elements and which it expects its partners to build on. “We do not want to do this by ourselves”, said Duarte. “We want to grow, scale and be more relevant with leading forces that will become our allies. It takes time to make that happen.”

One of the four elements is billed as “smart context”, which is said to combine “social, mobile, predictive analytics and machine-learning to provide self-driving business applications that enable people to focus on better engaging with customers and citizens”. 

For example, smart context “minimises time spent on administrative tasks by pre-populating timesheets and expense reports based on location data and behaviour analysis”, said Duarte.

Smart context will also enable managers in services organisations to pull down templates from a library of previous projects rather than relying solely on their own experience, he added.

The three other elements are better user experience, business-specific functionality, and an “elastic foundation” that will “allow organisations and end-users to model data structures and functionality and bring context around relationships to extended data structures and functionality”, said the supplier.

At the same time, the company announced a new release of its finance system, Coda, now renamed Unit4 Financials. The supplier said this “offers new levels of productivity and insight to finance teams by adopting and leveraging the Unit4 People Platform”.

Unit4 is historically strong in the UK higher education sector, where it is present in more than 100 institutions.

Duarte said IT leaders in the company’s existing customer base will “be pleased that they have a partner who has been thinking about the future and has a plan, who is taking them on the journey and on whom they can rely”. 

He added: “I have seen too many suppliers do a new release, making the customers an afterthought.”

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