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Supply Chain Matters Tech News Roundup- JDA Software; SAP; Arena Solutions

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There have been some noteworthy announcements related to both supply chain B2B network and PLM technology providers this week which Supply Chain Matters highlights in this news roundup commentary.

JDA Software Names Permanent CEO

JDA Software Group announced this week that Baljit Dail, who serves as Board Chairman, and has been serving as an interim CEO since May of this year, has now been named as permanent CEO.

In the press release, CEO Dail states: “The potential for JDA now, and into the future, is tremendous and I am excited about the opportunity to continue leading this innovative company.”

Since assuming interim CEO leadership, Dail has instituted a sorely needed Global Industries and Solutions Business unit responsible for product portfolio and industry support strategies, established an Innovation Lab to build transformational technology leveraging next-generation platforms, including cloud, and appointed a new leader for global sales.

JDA is also in the process of unveiling a new look and brand identity over the coming months and readers can anticipate broader industry focus and clearer messaging.

 

SAP Announces Expanded Cloud Relationship with IBM

This week, SAP announced that its SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud services will be made available through IBM’s global cloud infrastructure. The joint announcement came with enthusiastic statements issued by both tech CEO’s. The expanded partnership provides broader global hosted options for moving business applications from on premise to the cloud. According to published reports, this deal provides SAP with access to near 60 data centers between those SAP has deployed and the addition of IBM’s centers.

According to a specific report from IDG News Service, revelations over the past year about domestic surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies has raised data sovereignty and data privacy sensitivities among several countries, and this arrangement with IBM provides SAP with a greater ability to accommodate such concerns by cloud services hosted in designated domestic countries.  It is therefore little surprise that the joint announcement emphasizes security for enterprise customers. Broader cloud infrastructure and open standards based approach inherent in the footprint of IBM Cloud additionally provides SAP more scalability options in growing HANA Enterprise Cloud.

 

Arena Solutions Announces PLM Collaboration Platform

Mid-market PLM technology support provider, Arena Solutions announced two new modules plus enhanced functionality incorporated in its fall product release.

Arena Scribe provides a collaboration platform that supports comment and collaboration in the context of each individual process or record within Arena PLM. Users or suppliers can follow comment streams and receive dashboard and email alerts to stay up-to-date with fast-moving information. Arena DataExtract supports the ability to extract process datato a standard, flat file format, which can be analyzed using a variety of analytic tools from the range of basic spreadsheetstosophisticated business intelligence and analytics applications. This type of functionality provides enhanced ability to identify trends and solve problems related to product development, trends in engineering change orders or cycle times.

The new fall release includes what is described as significant ease-of-use enhancements to Arena Quality, a module introduced earlier this year. This module supports broader visibility, cross-functional team collaboration and tracking of product quality resolution.

Readers can gather detailed information related to Arena’s fall release in the news announcement.

 


Aceelerating Productivity Needs of Supply Chain Reference Model Initiatives

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As many of our readers may be aware, the Supply-Chain Operations Reference Model (SCOR) was developed by the Supply Chain Council (now APICS Supply Chain Council) to assist multi-industry and organizational supply chain organizations make meaningful and rapid improvements in supply chain business processes. This model’s methodologies describe the Plan, Source, Make, Deliver and Return activities associated with supporting customer and business fulfillment needs and have become a common language to articulate industry supply chain capabilities.

We all know that today, industry supply chains are driven by customer requirements and service needs, and the SCOR model is a tool that helps organization’s with a single standard reference upon which to understand the processes that make-up the supply chain along with their relationships to performance metrics. The power of SCOR is that it does not document the supply chain in the lens of functions (planning, procurement, manufacturing, logistics, etc.) but rather that of business process inputs and outcomes.

This author has been both trained in SCOR methodologies and has volunteered in various positions of the Supply Chain Council, including being a prior member of that organization’s North America Leadership Team. I can therefore attest that SCOR is a rather versatile tool that has assisted many industry and service focused supply chain teams to describe the depth and breadth of their supply chains as well as provide the basis for supply chain improvement or transformational initiatives.

The multi-level SCOR framework maps all customer interactions, all physical and informational transactions, planning and fulfillment processes. SCOR is a hierarchical and highly defined model which can capture the detail of supply chain processes with their relationships to the all-important performance attributes of responsiveness, agility, cost or assets associated to a supply chain. Those teams that have had experience with SCOR know that the real power of the tool is in understanding how all processes relate to one another and where processes need to be adjusted or modified to meet changing business or customer requirements. SCOR is an important tool that brings detailed understanding of the entire makeup of a supply chain, including best practices derived from other multi-industry supply chains.

The power of a comprehensive process definition tool is in providing common taxonomy and detailed cross-organizational and management understanding of the many supply chains that can exist within a particular company. Too often, teams get bogged down in documenting and updating the SCOR framework models which takes away from broad cross-functional support and from the timeliness or effectiveness of the framework as a reference to support decision-making. This is where technology can provide needed assistance.

Supply Chain Matters has previously called attention to highly focused system integrators, such as Bristlecone, who have developed self-contained service offerings that address very specific business needs. These are fixed-cost, managed scope application accelerators developed from prior successful implementations and industry best practices.

To assist firms that utilize SAP’s supply chain management applications the BristleconeStore offers ProcessesNow, a series of pre-built process maps based on the SCOR framework. ProcessesNow provides a central repository of process maps that extend the SCOR model by additional three levels .  It uniquely links these processes to the various transactions within SAP’s APO or Oracle’s Demantra planning application helping teams to better align the process maps with the transactions that enable them, hence, enhancing user adoption of the related planning solutions. Teams can interact with SCOR models both online and offline utilizing an easy to navigate expand and collapse structure.

Another neat feature is that Bristlecone has augmented ProcessesNow to support certain industry unique process needs. According to Bristlecone, this tool can typically save 4-8 months of framework documentation efforts, allowing teams to more productive time to analyze and iterate their SCOR models, and the tool itself typically can be installed in about a week. As with DemandPlanningNow which has previously highlighted, this application is built upon acquired knowledge, best practices and technical expertise acquired from prior supply chain implementations.

Bob Ferrari

Disclosure: Bristlecone is a client of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group


SAP Announces Intent to Acquire Concur- An Expensive Business Network Play

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This posting is an obvious follow-on to our prior commentary about this September turning out to be a noteworthy month for technology related announcements.  Ariba an SAP Company

Yesterday, SAP announced its intent to acquire Concur Technologies, a provider of cloud-based travel and expense management software.  SAP was willing to shell out a whopping $8.3 billion in one of this enterprise technology provider’s largest acquisition deals to date, surpassing the prior acquisition database technology provider Sybase for $7.1 billion in 2010.  It is also one of the most significant moves under the leadership under the now singular CEO leadership of Bill McDermott.

After pondering the announcement, the SAP user community should wonder whether SAP is again taking precious financial resources away from its mission of supporting manufacturing and service industry core business process support needs. Instead, this enterprise software provider has an apparent focus on being a multi-purpose business network company in the definition of SAP.

According to business media reports, Concur reported revenues of $546 million and an operating loss of a little over $24 million in its latest fiscal year which ended a year ago in September 2013.  In its announcement, SAP indicates that Concur has a revenue run rate of more than $700 million in its current fiscal year, implying a revenue growth rate in the mid-twenty range. That is not all that spectacular for hot, cloud-based tech providers.

SAP was willing to invest half the Concur amount, namely $4.5 billion in its acquisition of cloud-based sourcing and procurement provider Ariba, which is now an SAP operating company and is being positioned as a longer-term cloud-based strategic platform for B2B supply chain sourcing, planning and procurement in direct and indirect materials support areas. SAP has since acquired Fieldglass, a cloud-based provider of contingent labor and services management technology to augment Ariba network capability. But as SAP procurement and supply chain customers have noted, the product roadmap for broader diversified business network potential benefits currently span a long, multi-year window, with multiple moving parts involving other SAP technology and applications areas. One can certainly speculate that Ariba as a stand-alone entity would execute at a far faster pace.

SAP is thus willing to pay in excess of a 10x multiple, no small change, to secure long-term strategic potential in an indirect procurement services category. Granted, travel makes-up a considerable expense for any company, but for larger enterprises, the product value-chain is of higher importance to bottom-line results. The business travel services field is a very crowded one, providing competition challenges with other noteworthy existing players, which will surely get more dynamic with this news.

Readers should note that in their announcements related to business network moves, enterprise vendors emphasize the value of transactions within the network.  In the specific case of this Concur announcement, the number communicated is $600 billion in transaction volume.  That is the clue toward the real intent, that being incremental revenue growth from transaction fees. However, customers and their procurement teams have become more savvy in this game, and are not reluctant to trade one business network for another if transaction costs exceed budget goals. 

At first blush, this Concur deal appears to this author to be more about feeding SAP’s sales teams with added deal volume.  That impression is reinforced by statements indicating that the majority of SAP customers do not currently run Concur.  Giving the benefit of doubt, we certainly do not have privy to the full picture, thus we along with SAP customer and partner universe will have to await more articulation regarding yet another elongated business network player and roadmap.

Stay tuned.

Bob Ferrari


A Month of Noteworthy Enterprise, Supply Chain and B2B Business Network Technology Announcements

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September is a unique month.  Folks return from summer vacations, outings and getting closer to family, and then, the marketing juices ramp-up.  These past two week alone have featured non-stop significant announcements concerning enterprise, B2B and supply chain management focused technology which we will capsule.

On the enterprise and ERP software front, the blockbuster news is the announcement that the founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison, is stepping aside, but alas, he is instead assuming a different role.

Larry Ellison to Step Aside

Business and social media is buzzing with today’s stunning announcement that Oracle founder Larry Ellison will step aside from his CEO role in favor of two Co-CEO’s.  The Wall Street Journal’s alert story termed the announcement as: “one of the momentous corporate handovers in the history of Silicon Valley.”  Well stated!

Other publications equate the significance to when Bill Gates gave-up the CEO role at Microsoft in favor of Steve Ballmer.

Both Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, two other senior leadership executives will assume the role of Co-CEO’s.  But there’s more.  Ellison will supposedly assume the role of Oracle’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Isn’t that interesting?

Twitter is lit-up with all forms of reactions, one tweet equates Ellison stepping down to assume the CTO position the equivalent of Vladimir Putin stepping down to become Prime Minister of Russia. Somewhat humorous but perhaps insightful.

Obviously, there is more to this announcement which is timed just before the kickoff of Oracle’s annual OpenWorld customer conference that begins this weekend.

Supply Chain Matters has been on-record of not inclined toward the Co-CEO model at technology companies. We did not see it as productive when it was previously practiced at SAP, AspenTech and other firms.  The broader organization plays favorites as to whom will prevail as the ultimate successor and strategic initiatives suffer from internal political maneuvering and jousting. Just make a frikkin decision on whom is the top dog and let the chips fall.

Look for lots more buzz emanating from San Francisco and Redwood Shores in the coming days.

 

SAP Announces Next Iteration of Collaborative Supply Chain Management

The latest significant announcement from Walldorf concerns SAP Supply Chain Orchestration, an initial significant milestone from SAP’s prior acquisition of sourcing and procurement provider, Ariba.  The application is described as integrating functionality of SAP Supply Chain Network Collaboration (SNC) and Ariba’s Collaborative Supply Chain application. The combined application will be made available as a private cloud-based delivery platform which includes the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service.

For existing customers utilizing either SAP SNP or Ariba Collaborative Supply Chain, the obvious questions will be on depth of support for both indirect and direct materials procurement collaboration, along with license pricing structures incorporated in this new application. There are obvious implications regarding other SAP applications supporting supplier network connectivity.

Supply Chain Matters is in the process of gathering additional data and will provide a follow-up commentary.

 

Infor Announces Updated Release Supporting Sales and Operations Planning

ERP provider Infor announced Infor Sales and Operations Planning 10x. The 10.4 version of the application is reported to feature Infor’s 10x technology platform and includes a built-in social collaboration engine, Infor Ming.le, to aide in facilitating and recording internal discussions across all process participants.  The enhanced application reportedly features a single point to review planning alerts, exceptions, tasks and workflows along with enabling escalations from process stakeholders.  

A rather neat feature is a termed playbook component to assist in organizing those time-consuming pre-S&OP meeting reports into structured chapters along with generating formatted Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.  A built-in GIS capability provides users with a visualization of where various product demands are occurring, along with other data.

 

SPS Commerce and Bristlecone Partner for Cloud Transaction Automation

SPS Commerce, a technology provider with a focus on retail industry cloud services has partnered with specialty SI firm Bristlecone in expanded support for Oracle Applications to the SPS Universal Network, a broad retail industry trading partner network consisting of 55,000 members.

The announcement indicates that joint customer, Fruit of the Loom, recently deployed the Cloud Transaction Automation offering for Oracle. The Cloud Transaction Automation Solution is the latest addition to SPS Commerce’s portfolio of services.

 

Oracle Introduced Cloud Support for Transportation and Global Trade Management

Finally, we conclude our technology capsule commentary with news that Oracle has released Oracle Transportation Management Cloud and Oracle Global Trade Management Cloud applications.  According to the announcement, Oracle has now made the functionality of its applications in this segment available for either on premise or cloud deployment. Both applications are noted to be designed for phased, rapid deployment from either Oracle Consulting or other Oracle specialized partners.  

Readers may recall that the basis of Oracle’s transportation management support offerings is from the former acquisition of G-Log.  These cloud-based deployment options were part of the multi-year product roadmap involving support in supply chain transportation, trade and supply chain execution areas.

Bob Ferrari

Disclosure: Bristlecone is a current client of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group


Accelerating Productivity for Existing SAP APO Planning Teams

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In previous Supply Chain Matters commentaries, we have observed that utilization of SAP’s supply chain focused applications can serve as both a blessing and a curse. The blessing comes from the structural rigor for integrating enterprise-wide transactional, operational execution and master data with supply and demand planning.  This rigor is often cited as the curse, since today’s highly dynamic supply chain business processes are expected to respond to ever increasing levels of network-wide complexity. Adding supplemental supply chain suppliers, partners or planning locations can cause planners to fall behind and become the critical stumbling block. The problem exists both in rather large as well as growing supply chain organizations.

In the specific case of SAP’s APO (Advanced Planning & Optimization), many SAP customers have deployed the Demand Planning application incorporated within SAP APO. It is probably the most widely deployed module, and for good reasons.  Many industry supply chains are focused on being far more product or service demand-driven, thus sensing and responding to various multi-channel demand is a critical process capability.

Highly experienced users of the various components of SAP APO are either often promoted to higher levels of broader supply-chain wide responsibility, or they jump to other organizations that are willing to compensate more for APO-specific skills. As less experienced supply chain planners step-in, productivity and planning effectiveness suffers because the new planners lack the experience to manage input data, master data synchronization, and planning optimization results. Planners revert to their more comfortable Microsoft Excel skills to massage planning data for the broader organization and APO begins to become an operational data store rather than a planning solution. These types of challenges will likely increase as SAP migrates many of its supply chain planning capabilities toward it cloud-based, S&OP Powered by HANA platform that has integrated business planning as its prime objective.

To specifically help industry supply chain organizations respond to these challenges, Supply Chain Matters has been raising awareness to a cadre of smaller but highly focused system integrators who have developed self-contained, capsulized service offerings that address very specific business problem needs, including those related to SAP APO.  Their focus remains targeted scope technology and services that can springboard and overcome business process or systems challenges on a far more timely basis.

One such firm is Bristlecone, a laser-focused services company primarily addressing supply chain deployment and time-to-value challenges. The firm’s client list spans a broad swath of industry supply chains including consumer products, chemical, energy, high-tech, industrial, and pharmaceutical. As our readers are well aware, each has its own unique supply chain planning process needs and requirements. Bristlecone has been populating its Bristlecone Online Store with a collection of fixed-cost, application accelerators developed from prior successful customer implementations.

To specifically address the challenges of SAP APO Demand Planning productivity, the firm has packaged a fixed-price service, best practices and enhanced productivity offering termed Demand PlanningNow™ that augments SAP APO with offline and online augmented capabilities. Demand PlanningNOW provides a flexible Microsoft Excel front-end interfacing directly with SAP APO Demand Planning as the back-end. According to Bristlecone, the service offering helps SAP APO teams by providing added flexibility and versatility for working with large data sets and multiple partners utilizing Microsoft  Excel as a more familiar user front end tool. The packaged tool further provides an offline mode that allows users to perform simulations prior to uploading data as well as tracking data changes, providing front-end data validation and user alerts to unaligned data. As an added plus, Demand PlanningNOW  can leverage SAP’s built-in security and does not require additional system security capability.

Bristlecone informed Supply Chain Matters that this productivity accelerator has been deployed with user training and software in less than 2 days at some customer sites, although the documentation quotes a conservative two weeks. In either case, Bristlecone’s Demand PlanningNow™ provides yet another example of a fixed scope, fixed-price technology accelerator application built on a niche supply chain planning SI firm’s acquired knowledge, best practices and technical expertise acquired from numerous implementations and supply chain team interactions.Your SAP focused supply chain planning organization may want to explore these available collections of application productivity accelerators from smaller but highly focused SAP systems integrators as an alternative to more expensive wider scope services.

Bob Ferrari

Disclosure: Bristlecone is a current client of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group.

 

 


 


Oracle and SAP Legal Wrangling Reaches Another Milestone- Time to Move On

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We all tend to have our favorite sports teams and we often come to enjoy the classic rivalry among certain teams.  Regardless of the season’s record, the game between two noted rivals is often an event to itself. 

So it is among certain businesses as well as large enterprise software firms where bitter rivalries seem to transcend other needs.  One such longstanding rivalry has been SAP and Oracle where a contentious legal battle continues to unfold to what Supply Chain Matters views as a public embarrassment for both of these firms.

A prior SAP subsidiary, TomorrowNow, which turned out to be not one of SAP’s most astute acquisitions, had been performing software maintenance support for Oracle clients. Oracle sued SAP in 2007 after discovering thousands of suspicious downloads of its software. SAP later admitted that its subsidiary had violated Oracle’s copyright protections leaving a jury to resolve the level of damages to be paid. Oracle sought damages in excess of $1 billion, and indeed a jury found in favor of Oracle in a 2010 trial proceeding. However, a U.S. District Judge determined that Oracle’s claim was excessive and revised the damage award to $272 million. Both firms then agreed that SAP would pay Oracle $306 million in damages plus substantial legal costs to settle the matter. Oracle then elected to pursue the case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to recover the original $1 billion claim.

Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court ruled on this matter. Media reports indicate that for the most part, the appeals court rejected Oracle’s $1.3 billion damage claim, in essence ruling that Oracle must either accept a lower amount or face a new trial. The three judge panel instructed the lower court to offer Oracle a choice of $356.7 million in damages or seek a second trial. Thus far, Oracle has declined to publically comment as to which action it will take.

After four years of legal wrangling, it is time for both firms to move on.  Both have suffered public embarrassments in the eyes of each’s individual customers. From our lens, both firms have other pressing needs in terms of investments and services for supply chain, manufacturing, procurement and B2B network customers.

Bob Ferrari


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