Thursday, October 30, 2003

Green screen refuses to die

Users of J.D. Edwards World software are petitioning JDE's new owner, PeopleSoft, to start investing more in continued enhancements to the character-based, host-based version of its software, formerly known as "World." This murmuring from the silent majority of JDE users shows how difficult it can be for vendors to get installed base users to change.

In the 1990's, nearly every software vendor was moving away from so-called "green screen" architecture to GUI, client/server, and later browser-based versions of their products. JDE was no exception, launching its "One World" product line with its "configurable network computing" (CNC) architecture. The only problem was that an enormous number of users were perfectly happy with their green-screen version. In fact, for some types of data entry, green-screen is actually more efficient than a graphical user interface.

I recall speaking at one JDE user group meeting in 2000 where I asked for a show of hands to see how many users were on One World. Out of a group of 100, there might have been 5-6 hands raised. Then I asked how many were planning to migrate to One World. Another 5-6 hands were raised. I know that One World has been more widely adopted since then, but it shows to what extent companies are reluctant to replace perfectly good systems just to get a technology change. Perhaps JDE was guilty of having a green-screen product that simply worked too well.

There's no doubt that PeopleSoft's preference is to put most of its R&D dollars into its PeopleSoft Enterprise and its EnterpriseOne (formerly JDE One World) products, while keeping the World users paying maintenance dollars. It just looks like the World users have a different idea. Therefore, PeopleSoft is in a tight spot. If it invests more in the green screen version, it takes money away from its future to support its past. But if it does not invest more in green screen, it risks these users considering alternatives other than PeopleSoft.

Computerworld has the story on the action being taken by the JDE World user advisory committee.

Update, Nov. 4: I've gotten feedback from several experienced JDE implementation consultants regarding this post. Here's what one has to say:
Frank, I can tell you that not every company currently running JDE World [the green screen version] can upgrade to One World. Some don't have the IT infrastructure to support such a change. Others simply don't need the "better" functionality that One World provides. I agree with you that some applications are faster and easier in the green screen version. I am one who hopes that PeopleSoft will continue to enhance JDE World Software. I think it still offers many companies a competitive advantage.
Another JDE consultant has a similar view:
I was at the PeopleSoft Connect Conference. At the sessions I attended, Peoplesoft clearly stated it would not only support JDE World Software but would enhance the product. One speaker did say that JDE World Software would not get all the features of Enterprise One but would have some additional functions added. It appears that PeopleSoft's support for the World product may be more aggressive than JDE was even planning. To support that theory I know of at least one new sale of World in the last few months. This is something that JDE has not done since about 1998.
I'm interesting in hearing from other JDE users and consultants. Should PeopleSoft pull the plug on JDE's green screen version? Or should PeopleSoft continue to enhance the product?

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