Earlier this month, JDA Software announced availability of JDA Manufacturing Planning, described as an innovative in-memory based supply chain planning platform to support an always-on supply chain. Supply Chain Matters via this author, had the opportunity to be briefed regarding this newly announced functionality, and we were impressed with the progress that JDA has made in providing what appears to be comprehensive supply chain planning support built on a more advanced in-memory platform architecture. The platform will no doubt enhance the competitiveness of JDA in the supply chain planning technology area and help to correct perceptions that JDA has strayed away from supply chain planning needs other than Retail and Omni-channel based.
JDA Manufacturing Planning®, Releases 2016 and 2016A, provides a broad series of supply chain planning applications which customers can adopt in an overall transformation or upgrade plan. Applications themselves are broad, spanning supply chain network design, demand, supply and inventory planning, order promising as well as sales and operations planning process support needs. Included are abilities to support contingency, landed cost and margin aware scenario planning as well as predictive or prescriptive analytics techniques. A lot of effort has been obviously focused on improvement of persona-based user interfaces and added user productivity features that will be familiar to experienced users of Microsoft Excel®. Dashboards are less fixed and now provide more flexibility for user-defined options.
JDA has additionally added a pre-packaged Fast Track Implementation process, targeting a 3-6-month timeframe in assisting customers in quicker time-to-benefit related to this platform
Perhaps the most compelling feature of the platform is JDA’s efforts to leverage always-on, advanced in-memory distributed computing framework and grid fabric technologies built over an Oracle RDBMS data persistence foundation that supports advanced optimization and heavy data lifting, combining data and business logic as one routine. The net result for users is the ability to view, assess and address the impacts of either or both product demand or product supply changes in a more real-time environment.
From our lens, SAP ERP and SAP SCM users attempting to implement SAP HANA based in-memory capabilities for supply chain planning now have another alternative. Also by our lens, this platform provides a potential challenging alternative to Kinaxis’s Rapid Planning suite, depending on how both vendors compete on price and services.
There are some shortcomings. JDA missed an opportunity to leverage this platform to also include supply chain execution and deeper customer fulfillment data, making this closer to a true supply chain control tower support capability. Further missing was the ability to take greater advantage of JDA’s new development collaboration with Google for inherent Cloud-based platform capabilities. Having now moved on from the prior reported Honeywell acquistion to now a white knight with a renewed level of business funding, the opportunity still remains to include supply chain execution elements provided from the elements of RedPrairie and to augment this platform in an overall Google Cloud offering.
None the less, the landscape of supply chain planning technology has become much more competitive and customers now have more compelling options in which to consider. The other interesting twist is that of Oracle which from behind the scenes is providing other alternatives to supply chain and integrated business planning migration paths not predicated solely of the adoption of SAP HANA.
© Copyright 2016. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.
JDA Software announced today that its latest product release, version 9.0 is now available. Supply Chain Matters previously provided some hints to this new release in our coverage of the JDA FOCUS 2015 customer conference in April.
This version 9 release is significant from three perspectives:
- It marks a major stepping-stone in JDA’s plans for providing customers added support in connecting supply chain physical and digital planning as well as customer fulfillment execution processes. Release 9.0 further provides demonstration of JDA’s efforts to reorient the technology provider’s vertical industry support to provide continued support for Omni-channel and online focused retail industry needs as well as core discrete and process based manufacturing industries support. This strategy was re-iterated at FOCUS in April.
- Release 9.0 features the initial introduction and utilization of new JDA FLEX integration platform, designed to connect applications and information sources across heterogeneous systems. It further provides new opportunities for integrating supply chain planning and execution applications including the integration of the RedPrairie warehouse management and supply chain execution applications which were acquired in 2012. The JDA FLEX technology is further being utilized in the support of Omni-channel end-to-end Retail Omni-channel fulfillment processes, including the awaited connections to IBM’s Retail Commerce and Order Management (former Sterling Commerce) platform that was initially jointly announced in November of last year.
- The Release introduces what JDA describes as: “Risk Aware, Agile Supply Chain Planning.” Included in new enhancements are:
- Automated parameter and level optimization in product demand forecasting, allowing the system to analyze available historical data and recommend most appropriate forecast parameters.
- The addition of a termed Replenishment Interval Workbench that allows planners to analyze and factor risk mitigation and more effective vendor or supplier negotiations.
- In-memory, constrained aware S&OP planning with significantly added system scalability and performance, along with enhanced in-memory scenario planning allowing comparison of multiple scenarios utilizing a form of scenario scorecard functionality.
- An enhanced Agile Control Tower that adds guided-response forms of descriptive, prescriptive diagnostic and predictive analytical capabilities.
- Enhanced scenario and task planning within Factory Planning and Scheduling.
Another noteworthy aspect for this product release is additional enhanced functionality added to JDA Intelligent Fulfillment for support of Click and Collect online fulfillment needs that include pick-up at designated retail store, destination-driven demand categorization to match the actual physical presence of demand such as a retail store or online channel with inventory placement needs. Supply Chain Matters has previously shared our positive impressions with the current and planned functionality of Intelligent Fulfillment and we continue to believe that this application will be a strategic underpinning for JDA’s efforts in supporting online Omni-channel and multi-channel order fulfillment process needs.
More for more detailed information, readers can view an upcoming JDA Software webinar being held on July 23.
In the coming weeks, Supply Chain Matters will provide further, more detailed commentaries related to specific functionality and business process support aspects of this new JDA release.
Disclosure: JDA Software is one of other sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters© blog.
This author recently had the opportunity to interview Kinaxis senior executive Trevor Miles where we explored some important topics related to multi-industry supply chain challenges and the Kinaxis efforts in supporting these challenges. In our conversation, we covered a number of topics related to supply chain business processes and enabling software technology, as well as the current state of predictive analytics.
The following summarizes our questions and dialogue.
Q: Would you describe for our readers, your current role with Kinaxis?
My role at Kinaxis is Vice President, Product Innovation and Thought Leadership, and my activities are focused in three areas. They include overseeing long-term strategic direction for products, working with key customers and prospects on future product direction, and providing an external voice for Kinaxis in areas of brand awareness, social-media dialogue and speaking at major conferences.
Q: What in your view have been some of the major accomplishments for Kinaxis during the past year?
We at Kinaxis are very pleased to see strong demand and continued traction among our key targeted industry verticals. The success of any SaaS company is obviously reflected in customer adoption and we are pleased with our broad market traction and customer adoption rates, highlighted in particularly by record quarterly growth in subscription revenue in Q1 of 2015.
From a product perspective, continued expansion of the Kinaxis RapidResponse functionality with the addition of multi-tiered inventory optimization, attribute-based planning and supply chain segmentation support continues to generate lots of customer interest.
A key business accomplishment was our very successful initial public offering last June on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Q: In your travels, speaking at conferences and talking with prospects and customers, what do you sense as being the most dominant business process challenge described by cross-industry supply chain or Sales and Operations teams? In that same vein, what is described as the most significant technology challenge?
A frequent business process challenge often reflected by multi-industry sales and operations planning (S&OP) teams is the need to attack the various cross- functional information and decision-making silos involved in the process. I often hear needs related to having a more detailed understanding of the various tradeoffs of decision-making, especially related to various competing metrics. Today, many S&OP processes are supported by IT architecture that was largely functionally-focused which perpetuated islands of information. Whereas some of our competitors capture and synthesize data between organizations, our focus is to capture all pertinent information related to planning the entire supply chain.
Regarding the most significant technology focused challenge, it often relates to data. Many of our larger customers average upwards of 19 instances of an ERP application running across the supply chain network, some even higher. When considering today’s needs reflected in S&OP and more frequent new product introduction cycles, some information is not even in the existing ERP system but resides elsewhere. The challenge is making sense of the data and providing proper context in making data actionable.
Industry analyst firm Gartner recently modified its technology maturity model to include five stages, instead of the prior four. Stage 3 equates to integration of all data sources, and I find that repeated over and over again. The challenge is making sense of information.
While we are on the topic of technology, we should include elements of talent management. Today, there is a clear need for a more horizontal focus and understanding of the supply chain. Some organizations have a talent pool that remains too focused on vertical functional requirements without full consideration of the various tradeoffs and impacts related to supply chain-wide decision making.
Q: How is Kinaxis preparing to address the challenges described above?
Customers are looking for a solution to two fundamental challenges. They include the constant need for IT resources to mine ERP data in the desired format and the ability to support larger planning models. The Kinaxis Data Integration Server is directed at these data harmonization needs. By feeding raw data into a separate server we can facilitate significant reduction in the memory requirements for the planning server, allowing greater and more responsive performance in planning process needs along with more flexibility in data integration needs.
Kinaxis RapidResponse is architected as a single data model for planning and it associates data to specific people responsible for decision-making. With the introduction of both an integration server for housing and categorizing raw data, the planning server can be even more responsive in generating supply chain wide planning models. If a demand planner changes the future forecast, there is feedback as to how-much of the plan is likely to be met on-time. Planners can be more proactively alerted to unplanned events, as well as the consequences of the event. Additional what-if scenarios can be generated to ascertain most feasible approaches and/or tradeoffs in accomplishing a certain plan.
Q: Kinaxis and its teams have spoken previously about the notions of Supply Chain Control Tower capabilities. What’s your assessment of where this type of capability stands today? In your view, how long would it be before we begin to observe wider deployments of such capability?
There are two distinct approaches to control towers, one being a logistics execution approach, the other being an operations and planning resource approach. Kinaxis has advocated and supports the latter, but there is a role and value for both capabilities. The need to bring together planning and execution in a near real-time control tower perspective remains an important and differentiated capability.
The logistics approach is focused on day-to-day execution, namely “where’s my stuff?” and “Is it on-time?” From a change management lens, many organizations are not ready to get their hands around both execution and planning and there is currently more internal support right now for an execution focus. However, Kinaxis remains committed in support of the planning and operations focused supply chain control tower.
Q: Supply Chain Matters describes how more predictive analytics capabilities will be widely incorporated within supply chain planning, S&OP and response management capabilities? In your view, what’s the reasonable timetable for teams to expect to be able to leverage these capabilities across multi-industry supply chains?
Supply chain planning, in all its forms, has been predictive since its inception, demand forecasting being the perfect example. However we find that the notion of predictive analytics is a squishy term, and not clearly understood by industry supply chain teams. And the value of prescriptive analytics – for example, the ability to determine likely demand satisfaction issues based upon supplier decommits – has not been exploited fully by organizations. Supply chain communities are still trying to absorb the potential impacts of Internet of things and data lakes. These can be exploited by supply chain organizations to know sooner and act faster using prescriptive analytics. For predictive analytics it is more about knowing about the specifics of data being collected, the relevancy and context of the data before making the leap towards more predictive analytics. We do not see the supply chain organization leading the charge for predictive analytics, at least not now.
This concludes this executive interview with Kinaxis executive Trevor Miles. For further information, please click on the Kinaxis logo located in our Supply Chain Matters sponsorship panel.
Bob Ferrari, Executive Editor
Disclosure: Kinaxis is one of other current sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters blog.
The synchronization and management of the Omni-channel customer fulfillment experience has fast become a complex problem for retail industry business management and supply chain teams. The added dimensions of taking orders online or from physical stores and fulfilling from multiple channels adds complexity and needs for smarter and more-informed decision-making. Cost to serve and determining impact to profitability become ever more a challenge.
Yesterday, in conjunction with the Focus Connect 2014 event being held in Barcelona, JDA Software and IBM made a joint announcement that Supply Chain Matters believes demonstrates the ongoing importance and continued evolution of Supply Chain Control Tower (SCCT) support capabilities in the supply chain technology market. This announcement could also portray a possible broader relationship among these two technology providers in the months to come.
The specific announcement involves a joint collaboration among JDA and IBM development teams to address the need to process and fulfill retail industry Omni-channel orders in a more efficient and more intelligent manner. The approach calls for combining the elements of JDA’s warehouse management, demand planning and workforce planning business support capabilities (JDA Intelligent Fulfillment and Labor Productivity) with IBM’s Sterling Distributed Order Management network platform capabilities. In essence, this approach marries elements of supply chain planning and execution with an end-to-end order management and fulfillment platform that connects all channel participants. The combined capability is expected to be offered in either an on premise or cloud deployment option, the latter being supported by IBM’s SoftLayer business arm. The joint development effort is currently underway and according to the announcement, is expected to be available in late spring of 2015.
This author had the opportunity to speak with IBM regarding the joint announcement. Discussions among these two technology providers began in January of this year at the National Retail Federation (NRF) conference. Both companies have a rather strong market presence among global retailers and each was hearing customers speak to the increasingly complex challenges currently manifested in Omni-channel customer fulfillment, including the dynamic aspects of having to manage the tradeoffs of inventory, appropriate fulfillment location, transportation and labor requirement needs. In May of this year, our Supply Chain Matters commentary associated with attendance at IBM’s Smarter Commerce Summit highlighted the evolving dimensions of Omni-channel and the needs to provide more predictive and prescriptive decision-making capabilities into the process.
The joint press release includes a quote from joint customer Lowe’s Home Improvement, and we were informed that both firms have identified interest from other unnamed retailers as well. Apparently, the original timetable called for announcement of joint product integrating JDA and IBM elements later in 2015, but it was obviously pushed-up to coincide with this week’s JDA customer event.
Our supply chain and B2B business community education series regarding SCCT has articulated that the concepts of control towers involve efforts to bring together supply chain planning and execution business process elements with enhanced intelligence and more predictive decision-making that can be provided in near real-time dimensions. There have been a number of strategic movements underway among multiple supply chain, enterprise and ERP technology vendors to build, broaden or position SCCT capabilities. We view this JDA-IBM joint announcement as yet another dimension of such efforts. JDA has the potential to leverage a broader more feature-rich distributed order network platform that supports more dynamic process parameters while IBM garners access to deeper retail-specific supply chain planning and execution support functionality. We have been informed that JDA is building and architectural framework that supports plug-in capabilities from other vendors, similar to what we have heard from supply chain planning providers such as Steelwedge and its connection to the Salesforce.com platform. Similarly, supply chain business network provider E2open augmented supply chain planning and product management support capabilities with the acquisition of Icon-SCM and Serus Corporation respectively.
As noted in our previous commentaries, IBM has been integrating elements of Sterling order management and B2B messaging capabilities with its IBM Emptoris sourcing and procurement business suite, and has communicated efforts to bring the predictive elements of Watson decision-making to online fulfillment and supply chain synchronization challenges. Thus, the SCCT business process support elements continue to broaden from many dimensions and are a sign of what will transpire from SCCT support technology down the road.
In the meantime, readers and joint JDA and IBM customers should watch the ongoing joint efforts among both providers for further signs of what is to come. Just like the prior announcement of the partnership among IBM and Apple, both parties provide the potential to remove the information integration burden for today’s highly complex supply chains.
Disclosure: IBM, E2open and Steelwedge have current or prior business relationships with the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group, parent of the Supply Chain Matters blog.
SAP conducted its annual Sapphire NOW users conference in the U.S. and utilized this customer forum to once again communicate significant changes and implications concerning future direction. The prime theme that SAP management delivered to customers was the SAP Run Simple message, which for many day-to-day users of SAP, is a message that is received with some cynicism. None the less, the implications are rather profound and real. Supply Chain Matters penned a prior commentary regarding the implications of SAP’s new strategies focused on integrated business planning that has since received significant reader and social media activity.
Among the keynotes delivered at Sapphire was the often anticipated talk by Hasso Plattner, one of the original founders of the company and existing Chairperson of the company’s Supervisory Board. While Hasso’s annual talks to SAP customers tend to sometimes be academic and lengthy, they often contain candor and important insights regarding SAP direction or missteps in the market. This year was no exception.
One of the most significant messages delivered by Hasso was that enterprise software running on-premise is going to the cloud, no matter what. That is why SAP’s new strategic emphasis is now all about reengineering for “the cloud.” The message from Hasso was that it is no longer a matter of if but rather a matter of time. That alone is a significant message coming from SAP’s founder and most influential investor. He further indicated that four years ago, SAP leadership was initially very apprehensive regarding the challenge to change 400 million lines of code within its ERP backbone system, but has now come to the conclusion that it would have no choice but to do so. Software that was designed many years ago under different assumptions related to business processes and existing technology at the time, now has to better match the realities of today’s new business and technology paradigms. Hasso’s drumbeat message remains: “simplicity beats complexity”.
A very significant implication of SAP’s ongoing re-engineering towards leveraging HANA and the cloud is the goal to eliminate “aggregates” within its internal system’s functions. Aggregates are when the system calculates for instance, gross margin, income statements or a supply chain planning optimization. Long-time SAP APO user teams can best relate to this concept by considering APO’s in-memory or former “live cache” design concept, where all planning related transactional and master data is drawn into the planning engine to formulate optimized supply chain plans.
Instead, the new HANA based cloud or on-premise technology will store all of SAP transactional data in memory (column-store) and will respond to information needs and reporting requirements by assembling models and algorithms on top of transactional data. The implication is a system with a far smaller footprint that users will eventually have the infinite freedom to re-arrange information hierarchy’s on-the-fly in a matter of a few seconds. By Hasso’s description, that opens opportunities for the system to perform all functions via models and algorithms and the ability to perform more predictive and simulation based analysis capabilities based on system-wide data.
Other significant implications will be the even more critical importance to accurate master data, internal skills in modeling and simulation of supply chain related data and the ability of supply chain planning and fulfillment teams to perform multitudes of what-if or target supply chain goal fulfillment analysis.
Of course, this broad and sweeping scope of SAP focused change is going to take additional time, perhaps years in scope. There will be critical decisions that customers will need to make over that time period. At Sapphire, SAP further communicated its increased dependence on select key partners to assist both SAP and its existing customers to more quickly and successfully navigate this ongoing and significant transition.
Existing SAP customers need to seriously think about the implications of this shift in technology direction, especially as it relates to supporting today’s and tomorrow’s broader and more complex supply chain management needs. While complexity and frustration may rule today’s mindsets, start seriously thinking about what these new changes imply for integrated supply chain and business planning support needs under the SAP HANA enabled banner. Such changes involve a changing mindset, new and different skill needs as well as a reliance on a trusted external consulting and support partner.
It is no secret that SAP APO, while designed as a bullet-proof supply chain planning system built around SAP master and transactional data, is somewhat difficult and inflexible in its ability to provide a means to support rapidly changing supply chain business processes or to support a new data paradigm where the majority of supply chain related data exists in an external demand or supply network. In a prior Supply Chain Matters posting, we noted that the structural design rigor and tight internal system linkages has led to many work arounds, including spreadsheets and supplemental systems. In many cases, the full potential of supply chain optimization, such as optimized supply planning is avoided because of the complexity and lack of understanding of innards of SAP APO. However, those teams that have taken the dedicated time and patience to learn and understand such innards with supplemental tools have managed to leverage APO functionality and subsequent benefits.
As noted in prior commentaries, as SAP continues to build out its described muscle platform, organizations need to focus efforts on the further mastering of broad-based supply chain planning and fulfillment process modeling, optimization, simulation and master data management capabilities. There are available tools and knowledgeable partners who can help you to re-focus your current efforts and direction and better respond to line of business needs, customer fulfillment or product management requirements, while helping to facilitate the skills and new capabilities roadmap that prepares for what will come in the new world of SAP.
Key SAP strategic partners such as Intrigo Systems, are not only focused on SAP APO, but the broader SAP Supply Chain Management, both today, and in the realities of the SAP HANA enabled environment. The Intrigo Systems Optek tool suite consists of modules that have been designed to place the planner more in control of the process while making SAP APO functionally more effective today, and in the future capabilities of SAP Supply Chain Management.
© 2014 The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC and the Supply Chain Matters Blog. All rights reserved.
Disclosure; Intrigo Systems is a current client of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group.