Unit4's Three Rivers Buy Heats Up Competition in Next-Generation SIS Market

Archived Published: 11 June 2015 ID: G00279707


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Unit4 and Three Rivers Systems will combine to create a strong contender within the next-generation student information system market. But the success of the deal depends on bringing the Mosaic SIS to market early in 2016.

News Analysis


On 8 June 2015, Netherlands-based Unit4, a privately held company which offers enterprise applications for services-centric organizations, announced that it has acquired U.S.-based Three Rivers Systems, which focuses on higher education ERP solutions. Three Rivers Systems primarily targets the private higher education market segment, especially faith-based and health science institutions. Unit4 did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.


Higher education is one of Unit4's target vertical markets, and this deal strengthens its ability to compete in the emerging next-generation student information system (SIS) market by combining the Unit4 Business World ERP solutions with Three Rivers Systems' higher education software. Three Rivers Systems and Unit4 have a complementary customer base and geographic coverage:

  • Unit4 clients are largely users of its finance and research management products. Three Rivers has not previously offered a research management module and has relied on partners to provide financial and HR functions.

  • Unit4 has barely penetrated the U.S. higher education market. This deal gives it an entree into that market and will boost Unit4's and Three Rivers Systems' presence in Europe, as the companies have stated they will localize the next-generation SIS for the U.K., France and Germany immediately after its general release.

Most important, Unit4 will provide Three Rivers Systems with more resources for its unreleased CAMS Mosaic SIS, which has been under development for several years. If the Mosaic launch early in 2016 is successful, Unit4 could become the first vendor to market with a comprehensive cloud-delivered ERP system for higher education. Unit4 would then be able to contend with Workday and take away market share from legacy players such as Campus Management, Ellucian, Jenzabar, Oracle and Tribal Group.

Aged products dominate the SIS market. Many are highly customized and installed on premise, and only support traditional business models. Unit4's Cloud Your Way deployment model will allow institutions to choose from on-premises, cloud or hybrid delivery models. In addition, both Unit4 and Three Rivers Systems have strong alliances with Microsoft, and Three Rivers Systems developed the new product on .NET. Other Mosaic features that are highly desirable in the industry include:

  • A modern user experience with a responsive design

  • Integrated CRM

  • Embedded analytics

  • Support for nontraditional programs, such as non-term-based education

Gartner also believes that the price point for the new solutions will be attractive, and will appeal to small and mid-tier higher education institutions.


Unit4 and Three Rivers customers:

  • If you are using Unit4 Agresso EMS or QLS SIS or Three River's CAMS Enterprise SIS, strongly consider migrating to Mosaic when it becomes available, particularly if incented to do so. Unit4 will offer upgrade paths for its legacy QLS and Unit4 Agresso EMS customers and Three Rivers CAMS customers; it also said that it will not force upgrades and will continue support for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, Gartner expects both companies primarily will focus their collective higher education resources on the next-generation SIS.

  • If you are a small to mid-tier higher education institution in the U.S., U.K., France or Germany using Unit4 Business World financial, HR or research management solutions, evaluate the benefits of migrating to the next-generation Mosaic SIS.

CIOs at institutions searching for a new SIS or higher education ERP:

  • Evaluate Unit4's offerings, especially if you are a small to mid-tier, less-complex institution, if you desire to use a cloud delivery model or if you prefer an on-premise solution leveraging the Microsoft technology stack.

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