The November 2010 user conference for enterprise software provider Vormittag Associates, Inc. (VAI, based in Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) was a family affair. Not just because many of the users brought their families to the Disney resort in Orlando where the event was held. Not just because VAI thoughtfully provided kid-friendly food and entertainment at the event's customer appreciation dinner. And not even because the person checking you in at the registration desk quite likely was one of the Vormittags working the event alongside company president Bob Vormittag (one of this year's "Provider Pros to Know"; see article).
The conference was a family affair because the users actually seemed to feel like they were part of a family. This isn't surprising. While perhaps not as well known as industry heavyweights like SAP, Microsoft or Oracle (or larger midmarket ERP vendors like Infor or Activant), VAI has been around since 1978, and many of the users at the conference had literally decades of experience with the company. So the hearty hellos and questions about kids and grandkids exchanged between users and VAI staffers were in line with the family atmosphere at the conference.
Which is not to say that VAI's solution isn't every bit as sophisticated as other ERP offerings on the market. VAI is an IBM Premier Business Partner that has worked closely with "Big Blue" to develop its latest software suite, S2K Enterprise, for the IBM Power Systems. IBM introduced the conference attendees to the new Power 7 series, which IBM claims offers significantly lower total cost of ownership and security risks than previously available on the market. And VAI's partnership with IBM also means that its customers can take advantage of discounts when buying VAI solutions together with IBM hardware, in addition to accelerated implementation cycles.
VAI's family of solutions provides financial and accounting capabilities (A/P, A/R and general ledger), plus functionality around purchasing, warehouse and inventory management, and customer relationship management, as well as e-commerce. The S2K 5.0 lineup of solutions has been out for a couple years, but the 2010 conference saw the debut of version 5.0.3 of the suite and S2K Enterprise on-line, the new Cloud-based offering, in addition to a new release of S2K for Food. (Other industry-targeted suites include Apparel, Automotive, Building and Electrical Supply, Electronics, HVAC/Plumbing Heating, Industrial, Janitorial, Medical and Pharmaceutical.) VAI also used the conference to take the wraps off the new S2K Sales Force, a portal-based CRM solution designed to integrate enterprise data with mobile computing devices such as the Apple iPad and iPhone.
In summary, VAI's conference offered a glimpse into a different sort of ERP world, one where users have been listened to and therefore feel they have a stake in the development of the solution, and where the solution provider has a genuine stake in the success of its customers. Call it ERP — Family Edition.
Do your solution providers listen to you? Do you feel like they have a vested interest in your company's success? Write me at email@example.com to share your thoughts or experiences. I'll look forward to hearing from you.
— Andrew K. Reese
Supply & Demand Chain Executive
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