Whither Osram

By Larry Barrett  |  Posted 2002-03-18 Print this article Print

What's the use of standardizing on one vendor? Just ask Osram Sylvania, which took a chance on SAP's untried customer relationship management software.


Whither Osram?

Most of the players at Osram who had a hand in developing mySylvania.com have moved on to other roles. Laghaeian, Schmidt, and Wilson are left to figure out how to get more value out of the pieces Osram has put in place.

Laghaeian notes Osram has not always guessed correctly on which parts of mySylvania.com would provide value. For example, no customers are getting the full value of swapping order information with Osram in the Web data formatting language, XML. This is dismaying since that was a format Laghaeian insisted on. The hope had been that Osram could eliminate the custom coding of transactions for non-participating customers. Even being locked into SAP didn't solve that key issue. Osram, in the end, had to go to Microsoft to even get the XML tool it needed.

"The thing is that unless you do fundamental implementation of systems like we have, it's not easy to do, it just adds to your cost," he says. "We are very rigid … architecturally, and there's a reason for it. If we don't stick to our guns, (our costs will) spiral out of control."

SAP achieved its goals, getting a customer management software program to market—and getting Osram to license the entire mySAP.com suite of e-business software that has come to market since.

That, in turn, should let Osram continue to reduce the number of software vendors it uses. IBM's Lotus Notes for electronic mail and PeopleSoft software for human resources and payroll are too entrenched to remove, but Osram is migrating off Cognos' business intelligence software to SAP Business Warehouse, and may move off Manugistics' logistics software, as well. Osram is again helping SAP in that arena, to develop its competing product, known as Advanced Planner and Optimizer or APO.

Laghaeian still clearly wants to eliminate other vendors in favor of SAP. But the love is not endless. If SAP were to miss a major technology trend, like it almost did with the Internet, Osram, he says, will move on.

Senior Writer
Larry, of San Carlos, Calif., was a senior writer and editor at CNet, writing analysis, breaking news and opinion stories. He was technology reporter at the San Jose Business Journal from 1996-1997. He graduated with a B.A. from San Jose State University where he was also executive editor of the daily student newspaper.

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