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Observations on the Rankings for Supply Chain Planning Technology

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Industry analyst firm Gartner published its Magic Quadrant Rankings for Supply Chain Planning System of Record applications in mid-January. In this Supply Chain Matters commentary we share some random observations regarding these latest rankings of supply chain planning technology vendors.

First, this particular Gartner Magic Quadrant report is later than usual; the last one was published in March of 2014. Rumor and speculation indicates that a reason for the delay was pushback from certain vendors.  While this author does not have first-hand knowledge, having worked at two top-tier industry analyst firms, I would not be at all surprised that the report could have been delayed for such reasons.  Supply chain planning vendors, especially the larger ones, have much at-stake in their ranking from Gartner.

Notable observations from our lens:

  • Niche players such as Blue Ridge and Tools Group moved to the Leaders quadrant to join incumbents Kinaxis, JDA Software and OM Partners. The crossing of two quadrants from the bottom left to the upper right quadrant in a single bound is a relatively rare occurrence in such rankings. As The Wall Street Journal was quick to observe, vendors currently ranked in the Leaders quadrant share the moniker of being best-of-breed technology focused. The only ERP focused supply chain planning provider is Oracle that straddles the line between Challengers and Leaders.

 

  • Upon reviewing many of the individual vendor capabilities rated as Visionaries, a consistent theme among customer references is Stage 3 or higher planning process maturity. Gartner defines such maturity as horizontally integrated demand and supply planning supporting linked optimization across the supply chain.   As one would expect, certain vendors achieve their Visionary ranking because of completeness of technology vision which is a further testament to best-of-breed vendors for the most part. Oracle is one exception.  From our lens, current efforts in releasing a full Cloud based planning capabilities for supporting discrete manufacturing planning needs demonstrates a lot in completeness of vision.

 

  • SAP APO slipped from the Challengers to the Niche Players quadrant. Commentary provided by Gartner indicates below-average level of capability as well as below average customer satisfaction inputs. Further noted is Gartner’s view that the level of R&D investment is now significantly less than the investment SAP is exhibiting in its Integrated Business Planning (IBP) application.  Ironically, SAP IBP does not yet meet the Gartner criteria for inclusion in its Magic Quadrant rankings because it is too new and according to Gartner is yet to have depth of functionality to be deployed as a planning system of record.

 

  • Infor also slipped, moving from the Challengers to lower in the Niche Players quadrant. That was a surprise. Gartner’s commentary reflects below average vision in comparison with other supply chain planning vendors and a more traditional view of planning vs. response planning. Below average customer satisfaction along with below average future buying intentions are further cited as cautions.

 

Notably dropped from the latest Gartner SCP SOR rankings were supply chain planning vendors AspenTech and E2open because of not meeting previous inclusion criteria. Additions in the latest rankings were Adexa, FuturMaster, GAINSystems, NeoGrid and Slimstock. Supply Chain Matters has previously highlighted NeoGrid as an up and coming industry specific supply chain provider.

Obviously, one analyst firm’s ranking of supply chain planning market offerings is different than others.  In the specific case of Gartner’s rankings, there will always be back and forth debates because of that analyst firm’s broad reach among IT organizations.

However, the current landscape of supply chain planning, sales and operations planning (SO&P) and B2B supply chain network planning technology is far more influenced by line-of-business and supply chain leadership input needs and requirements. Hence many other sources of information support the buying decision.

Bob Ferrari

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