TomorrowNow Upset at Quest User Group
February 27, 2006 Alex Woodie
TomorrowNow, the SAP subsidiary that provides third-party maintenance services for the J.D. Edwards and PeopleSoft ERP systems, will be in Nashville in April for Quest International‘s annual conference. However, it won’t be at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, where conference sessions and the vendor expo will take place. Instead, TomorrowNow will be holding court “across the street,” because Quest has revoked the company’s membership due to its ownership by SAP.
Andrew Nelson, founder, president, and CEO of TomorrowNow, sounded a bit annoyed in discussing recent events between his company and the Nashville-based user group. “They came and talked to us,” he says, referring the company’s decision to branch out beyond PeopleSoft and provide J.D. Edwards application support about a year ago. “Quest really put the meeting together, asked us if we’d serve this user community in the same way we did PeopleSoft.”
Soon after that, TomorrowNow was acquired by SAP, and that’s when things started to go downhill. Where the company had once been a platinum member of Quest’s partner program, the user group revoked TomorrowNow’s status with Quest. That decision was made entirely because of its ownership by SAP, says DeLaine Bender, executive director of Quest International User Group.
Nelson understands how it looks from the outside, but insists that the ownership doesn’t effect how TomorrowNow supports its customer. While TomorrowNow participates in SAP’s “Safe Passage” program to migrate users from J.D. Edwards and PeopleSoft applications to SAP applications, it isn’t in the business of selling SAP software licenses, Nelson says. “We’re owned by SAP. We want them to be successful. But there is no selling [of SAP solutions] at all,” he says. “If you want to go to [Oracle’s] Fusion, if and once that goes out, go for it. We’re not selling licenses right now.”
Nelson also insists that TomorrowNow’s message would be in the best interests of conference attendees. “If you look at most of the shows, the level of ‘coopetition’ is pretty unbelievable,” he says. He used the example of SAP’s annual SAPHire user group event. While Oracle and SAP are arch rivals in the application department, Oracle’s relational database technology is the most common database among SAP users. As a result of this fact, Oracle’s database representatives are invited to participate in SAP user group activities. “SAP is serving customers, offering choices, even if it means bringing competitors in,” Nelson says. That said, Oracle’s applications people are not invited to SAP events.
But Quest is skeptical of that pledge on TomorrowNow’s part not to be an agent for SAP at the Quest event. “Quest’s role is to help our members achieve the greatest value from their existing ERP applications and related investments, so we have a number of solutions and services providers present at our conference that are niche competitors to Oracle’s offerings who are there because they can potentially add value to a JD Edwards and/or PeopleSoft user’s experience,” Bender says. “We do not allow ERP competitors to participate, because their motivation for being there would not likely be to add value, but to promote a change in ERP systems. That doesn’t fit into our mission.”
In the end, Quest decided allowing TomorrowNow to participate would have created a conflict of interest, Bender says. “We support the right of customers to evaluate options such as alternative maintenance if they believe it will extend the value of their J.D. Edwards or PeopleSoft applications,” Benders says. “That is why we accepted TomorrowNow as a Quest member in late 2004. However, we reserve the right to reevaluate any member’s membership as business circumstances change, as TomorrowNow’s did in mid-2005 when the company was acquired by SAP. In the judgment of Quest’s leadership, being a wholly owned subsidiary of SAP created a conflict of interest that could not be overcome. For that reason, and that reason only, TomorrowNow does not meet the criteria for Quest vendor membership.”