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IFS rolls out business app

The business applications package, IFS Applications 98, marks the small Swedish company's entry into the U.S. market.

A small Swedish company, Industrial & Financial Systems, is attempting to plant its flag in the growing market for business application software.

The company will this week roll out its business applications package, IFS Applications 98, marking the enterprise resource planning software vendor's entry into the U.S. market.

IFS Applications 98 consists of 40 business modules, or components, that can be combined to form industry-specific systems. Like component models offered by other players in the ERP market, such as those from SAP and Baan, each of the components represents an application that supports a specific area of a company's business processes--manufacturing, distribution, finance, resource management, engineering, and enterprise asset management.

The new applications package also features a Java-based thin client on the front end, the company said.

Lately big business applications players have been touting the component-based model as the new messiah of architectures. IFS, a relatively small company compared to the likes of German-behemoth SAP, or even the U.S.-based PeopleSoft, is targeting the middle market with its new product.

"Yet another foreign company coming in to exploit the U.S. market," said Information Data Corporation analyst Judy Hodges. "This market is wide open right now, but there are so many going after it, it's developing very quickly," and a lot of the bigger companies have already staked a large claim.

ERP applications have become fixtures at a large majority of multinational corporations in recent years, but sales have begun to stagnate with market saturation, observers say. The major ERP vendors have devoted large resources to extend their core product to the front-office in an attempt to attract a more diverse market.

Part of that strategy includes breaking core products into component models, which makes applications more flexible and potentially less costly to install, since businesses buy only the components they need. As corporations grow, they can add additional components to support new business areas.

That's where IFS hopes to make its mark. "We've been delivering a component-based product for sometime," John S. Bridges, vice president of marketing at IFS, said.

Applications 98 is priced at around $250,000 for a typical configuration, according to the company. The software runs on Windows NT and Windows 95.