Lawson Software takes page from Apple with marketplace

Lawson's ERP customers can buy add-ons with a credit card

Lawson Software is taking a cue from Apple, Amazon and others, announcing on Monday the Lawson Marketplace, an online store where customers can use a credit card to buy a range of add-on tools for their ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications.

Lawson Marketplace has some 180 items at launch, with more to come, said Lee Kilmer, global director of technology and EPM solutions. Pricing ranges from no charge to roughly US$249, Kilmer said. It's a one-time payment with no ongoing maintenance fees, although customers who want more help with a particular tool can purchase services, he said.

The assortment includes items like preconfigured workflows, reports, mashups, Excel spreadsheet templates, desktop canvases and scripts for Lawson's Smart Office platform, Kilmer said.

"We frequently get asked by customers: You must have already created this report in other implementations. Can't you just give that to me? A lot of desire for this came in listening to our customers about the things they need," Kilmer said.

Right now the store contains items developed by Lawson, but down the road, the company plans to add partner-produced products as well as items created by Lawson customers.

Lawson has considered IT security and governance matters in designing the marketplace. Users who want to buy something need a login for the site, which must in turn be granted by an administrator, he said. In addition, by downloading the add-ons users are "not really changing the integrity of the Lawson deployment. They're not changing anything on their Lawson servers," he said.

Also Monday, Lawson is announcing a new Mashup Designer tool that will allow users to create applications using multiple data sources without writing code. The tool, which customers will use via their Lawson Smart Office interface, is now available for M3 Enterprise Management System and will ship for S3 Enterprise Management System in May, Lawson said.

"It's really targeted at a business user or power user, rather than an IT person or programmer," Kilmer said. "If you're someone who understands the Lawson applications fairly well and you know which application screens contain certain information, you'll be successful." The tool requires a separate license. Kilmer declined to disclose specific pricing.

In addition, a new tool called ViewPoint for Lawson Business Intelligence is now available for S3, Lawson said. It will enable users to create personalized reports and dashboards, and like the Mashup Designer, is used through Smart Office.

The point is to give users "self-service" BI, Kilmer said. "IT can become a bottleneck when it comes to creating reports or active analytics."

ViewPoint has two components, a design tool and a viewer. The designer is licensed separately while the viewer comes as part of Lawson BI. Pricing was not disclosed.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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