We pen this commentary from the beautiful Aria Hotel in Las Vegas which is hosting supply chain technology vendor JDA’s annual Focus customer conference for three days this week. This was the first time since the inception of Supply Chain Matters that we have been invited to attend Focus, and we praise both the JDA social media and industry analyst relations teams for their recognition of the influence of supply chain social media platforms such as ours. By the way, the Aria has some pretty nifty high-tech laden rooms.
We begin our initial commentary with some general first impressions garnered from day one of the conference.
One of the more pleasant surprises regarding this conference was to note the sheer presence of slightly over 2000 attendees at a conference dedicated to enabling supply chain business processes with technology. That should be an indicator that either conference education budgets are far healthier, or that the focus by many businesses on enhancing supply chain capabilities is a lot more focused. We hope to gain a better sense of this in tonight’s networking reception. Attendees are reading these commentaries are welcomed to share their motivation for attending.
Another impression to share is the announced strategic shift in JDA’s product strategy over the next five years. In the opening keynote, president and CEO Hamish Brewer announced to his assembled customers the intent of JDA to move toward a cloud-based solutions provider, with JDA Cloud being positioned as a prime business development offering. Brewer’s message to customers was to not overtly change the current collection of product offerings but to give consideration to moving to the cloud delivery model over the next 3-5 years. That statement comes with a lot of open questions for JDA as well as its current customer base. The specifics as to what components are to be included in JDA Cloud seem to be a bit vague after day one. This author managed to attend a customer presentation delivered by Lenovo’s E-Commerce business, which was an early adopter of JDA hosted systems. While we were able to gain some additional knowledge of what is being defined as Managed Services, JDA will need to get much more specific since the target buying teams now include functional supply chain and IT constituencies.
Late this afternoon, JDA hosted for invited industry analysts, media and influencers a specific demonstration of a rather cool product being termed JDA 3D, which was jointly developed by JDA and Red Dot Square Solutions. Our best description of this product is a combination of simulated retail merchandise planning, retail planogram, and 3D visualization wrapped together in software. The application fuses the needs for retail assortment planning, sales and marketing effectiveness and product demand sensing in a single application. The application is being positioned to either help consumer goods manufacturers inspire customers to buy their products, help retailers to design a more pleasant and effective floor environment, and allow product development teams to virtualize how a product might fare in the market in a digital simulation. Lots of possibilities for this application and hopefully JDA will provide more specifics.
Our final observation relates to the conference access that JDA grants to industry analysts and bloggers. This is one of the very few technology providers that restricts attendance to certain product or customer presentations. I was informed by long-time industry analyst attendees that the restricted list is narrower this year than in previous years, and thus JDA’s outreach teams should be commended for practicing some internal change management. That aside, if a technology vendor believes in its products and its abilities to solve customer problems, than it should be willing to be transparent. Heck, even enterprise vendors SAP and Oracle provide total access to all presentations.
GT Nexus and Kinaxis have announced a strategic partnership directed at providing a cloud-based unified planning and execution platform for enterprise customers and business process outsourcing (BPO) service providers. This partnership is directed at combining the capabilities of both companies – the planning and simulation “brains” of the Kinaxis platform with the inter-enterprise B2B execution network of GT Nexus. The Kinaxis RapidResponse® Control Tower providing supply chain planning, demand management, S&OP, supplier collaboration, is to be coupled with the GT Nexus platform that provides real-time visibility to orders, inventory, shipments and commerce transactions from order point to final delivery and payment.
Kinaxis has been searching for a means to connect this provider’s supply chain planning and response capabilities directly to a B2B network platform and this partnership has the potential to provide broader appeal.
Supply Chain Matters will feature more in-depth commentary after securing more information related to this partnership.
Disclosure: Kinaxis is one of other named sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters blog.
Supply Chain Matters Guest Posting Interview with Infosys: Supply Chain Control Tower Readines- Part Two
Supply Chain Matters thought it would be great idea to conduct interviews reflecting on the different current perspectives of supply chain control tower concepts. This Part Two posting is a continuation from Part One.
Our goal is to include technology and service providers, as well as functional experts closest to this area. To kick off this series, we conducted an interchange with Infosys senior consultants regarding current trends in this area. Participants and prime contributors in the responses were:
Gopi Krishnan GR, Practice Manager – Business Application and Services, Retail CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys
Arun Kumar, Principal Consultant – Business Application and Services, Retail CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys
We continue in this posting with Gopi and Arun responses to two other questions.
Question 3: Typically, how are supply chain control tower capability needs being expressed:
a. The need for more timely decision making capabilities or supply chain business intelligence vs. broader visibility
b. An extension of supply chain planning capabilities regarding the overall picture of demand or supply or products?
c. An extension of supply execution capabilities regarding purchase orders, replenishment and exception occurrences?
d. Combinations of the three above?
It is a combination of all 3. In fact, the nearest abstraction would be a flavor of near real-time Business Intelligence (BI) solution. A SCCT is a function of accurate forecasting, rapid execution, and actionable insight that leads to superior decision making. Depending on the level in which you want to expand the SCCT scope, the issues being addressed can be (a)the planning to execution gap (b) the intra-execution gap (between various execution functions) or (c) inter-enterprise gap (in terms of functional flows or handshakes across organizations or entities).
Question 4: What general advice does Infosys share regarding the best approach for undertaking a supply chain control tower initiative.
The primary challenge for organizations today is to lower costs, improve service levels, enhance visibility and effectively synchronize the demand-supply equation. The SCCT is an effective tool to address these challenges. It must however be noted that we continue to advocate a ‘crawl-walk-run’ approach instead of trying too many things at the same time.
How do we start off on the SCCT journey? A lot of parallels can be drawn to the classic six sigma improvement techniques (DMAIC comes to mind) adapted to the SCM context. The three key pillars for this initiative would be Visibility, Control and Responsiveness.
Visibility can be attained via streamlining the business processes to address current inefficiencies followed by defining and right-sizing of metrics. Instead of trying to measure, monitor and track everything across the supply chain, the organization could define limited operational KPIs and cross-functional metrics to begin with and expand as they go along.
At the Control level, the organization is setting up the right metrics and measure/monitor/track key parameters across the supply chain based on critical KPIs that can be expanded as they go along (to include more cross-functional metrics). At this stage, we are still referring to upper or lower control levels for each parameters and the ability to stay predictable.
Responsiveness is where the customers see the difference in terms of enhanced customer experience. These could be events which are routine (like a truck delay) or much broader in scope – even at the level of supply chain risk management as a response to unforeseen and potentially catastrophic events. Thus responsiveness goes beyond actionable insights and can include outcomes from what-if predictive modeling to drive better decision making.
For each of these steps, organizations can stay within their span of control or expand beyond traditional boundaries to look at the extended supply chain.
The technology approach for the SCCT logically requires the same four steps to be enabled. The additional – but an overarching requirement – is the design of a scalable and flexible integration platform to extract the necessary information from underlying systems (within an enterprise) and message files (from external partners). This would require harmonization both at a process level and at a master data level.
This concludes part two of this Infosys dialogue on SCCT readiness. If readers have specific thoughts and/or needs in this area, or if your organization wants to contribute to this education series, please send us an email: info <at> supply-chain-matters <dot> com.
Disclosure: Infosys is one of three other named sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters blog.
Next week Supply Chain Matters will again pack up essentials and will travel to Las Vegas to attend the JDA Focus 2012 conference being held Sunday through Wednesday. It has been awhile since we attended a JDA conference and we are looking forward to hearing updated perspectives on the JDA product line as well as catching-up with former acquaintances.
If any readers are attending the conference, please say hello. We just received brand new monogrammed shirts embossed with our new Supply Chain Matters logo, so you should have no problem in identifying us in the crowd.
Look for periodic blog dispatches and Twitter “tweets” regarding the conference during the upcoming week.
The Supply Chain Matters Quarterly Newsletter is a reader supplement to this blog. The newsletter provides for a broader analysis of our daily and weekly commentaries, with an emphasis on this past quarters events and their implications for global supply chain business process and information technology needs going forward.
The Q1-2012 newsletter was distributed today, so please check your email inbox to access your and read your copy. Perhaps the most telling aspect of how busy supply chain management professionals are these days was the vast number of “out-of-office” automatic replies we received with this morning’s distribution. Readers who signed-up to subscribe to Supply Chain Matters along with our consulting clients automatically receive our newsletter.
Q1 provided continuous news related to global supply chains, and our newsletter features commentary reflecting on:
- Multiple stories related to developments in Apple’s supply chain point to even more dramatic era of industry leading capabilities.
- Business strategy changes precipitated many brand-name supply chains to embark on various forms of supply chain transformations
- The Obama Administration stepped up efforts to address global supply chain security while the ultimate cost of the Thailand floods became much more quantified.
- A Guide to supporting innovation processes within China
If you did not receive your copy, or would like to be added to our newsletter distribution list, please send an email with Newsletter Request on the Subject line, and include the following information:
- Your Name
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You can send your request to the following mail address: info@ (at sign) supply-chain-matters <dot >com.
Readers can also take advantage of the Join Our Mailing List entry box, located in the right-hand panel and will insure that you receive a copy of our latest Newsletter.
Bob Ferrari- Executive Editor