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Special Report: ERP vendors make move from back office to front

Unclear boundaries

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Recognizing the blurring of ERP and CRM, many companies are shying away from such terms and using more generic descriptions such as "e-business." Redmond, Wash.-based Pivotal Corp. prefers to call its hybrid product "demand chain management." In essence, the software brings e-commerce functions together with customer and enterprise management for small and midsize businesses. "We’re looking at the whole ecosystem around a company," said Matt Duncan, Pivotal’s VP-corporate and solutions marketing.

Some industry watchers point out, however, that traditional ERP vendors might not be best suited to broaden their offerings into CRM and other e-business functions.

"It’s essential for companies to hook into back-end solutions, but that doesn’t mean that ERP vendors understand e-business," said Craig Stevenson, senior product marketing manager for BroadVision Inc., a provider of e-business software, including eCRM. "ERP is very large and very static. E-business, if you’re successful, is very dynamic."

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