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Announced Availability of Oracle SCM Cloud Release 13


This week, Oracle announced the introduction and availability of Oracle Cloud Applications Release 13, a further effort to extend broad functionality in a public or private based Cloud platform.  Oracle logo sized 300x38 Announced Availability of Oracle SCM Cloud Release 13

As outlined in prior Supply Chain Matters blog commentaries, Oracle’s supply chain management focused development teams have established design goals to eventually provide availability of all existing on-premise SCM support application to Cloud-based offerings. The new Cloud-based offerings now being released include an emphasis on exceptional user experiences, more seamless upgrading for future Cloud application releases, and are being designed to include far more leverage of analytics, business rules orchestration and workflow management.

Within this new release are further enhancements to Oracle SCM Cloud and Oracle ERP Cloud, many of which were premiered at the Oracle Open World Conference held last fall.

Release 13 of Oracle SCM Cloud provides more than 200 added features and six added applications that now include Demand Management, Sales and Operations Planning, Supply Planning, Quality Management, and Maintenance.

The release of Oracle Demand Management Cloud builds on the capability of Oracle Demantra. In addition to the ability to Sense, Forecast, Manage and Predict supply chain product demand, Release 13 provides the availability of pre-built integration between Demand Management and other Oracle SCM Cloud applications including data related to customers, sales orders, or other master data needs. There is added support for integration of external data sources as-well.

Newly released is Oracle Sales and Operations Planning Cloud, described as a complete S&OP planning application to align organizations to an integrated operating plan and to meet strategic business goals. Oracle designed this new Cloud-based S&OP application to support the full process spectrum from detailed analysis to high-level Executive- level S&OP reporting, avoiding the need to constantly generate augmented summary reports for S&OP review meetings. What impressed this author in prior software demos was the ability and flexibility for users to configure analytics and planning dimensions in a variety of screen-based modes including planning dimensions and hierarchies, or tables for multidimensional data analysis.  Users can run quick product demand or supply simulations or compare various operating plans. This application further supports the ability to not only integrate data from internal Oracle applications but external data and application sources such as multiple ERP systems including SAP, by way of flat-files. This represents Oracle’s newest response to existing ERP and best-of-breed software providers offering dedicated S&OP support applications.

For Release 13, Oracle product management provides for the transition for Oracle Planning Central Cloud to the combination of Oracle Supply Planning Cloud and Oracle Demand Management Cloud. Existing Planning Central plans are automatically available for viewing, editing and supply planning, along with a comprehensive listing of supply planning functionality including the ability to plan for multiple customer fulfillment strategies.

Oracle Quality and Maintenance Cloud is described as supporting an end-to-end quality management system, something that Oracle has not offered previously.

Cloud ERP

Oracle ERP Cloud, is essentially a financial support platform, but further includes baseline supply chain management support capabilities including those involved in Order-to Cash and Procure-to-Pay process flows. Cloud ERP includes Oracle’s support for sourcing and procurement business process and analytics needs. As-such, ERP Cloud can be viewed as an entry-level application toward total Cloud adoption, with migration to SCM Cloud as a consequent next step. Release 13 builds on Public Cloud functionality particularly in procurement process support, adding enhanced user experience and functionality capabilities for strategic sourcing support, supplier management Coverage for manufacturing based industry is enhanced in this latest release. Supply Chain Matters will feature additional blog commentary related to the procurement support needs at a later date.

Summary Takeaway

In prior commentaries, this analyst has expressed the view that Oracle SCM Cloud represents one of the broadest, end-to-end supply chain business process and full-featured Cloud-based offerings.  Release 13 significantly adds to this dimension.

Earlier this year, Oracle indicated that over 1000 customers have already embarked on SCM Cloud adoption. We suspect that by the end of this year, and now with the availability of the assortment of new applications and added functionality in many different areas, that adoption numbers will likely be somewhat higher.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

OpenText Announces Availability of New Cognitive AI Platform


Catching-up on developments that occurred while we were away on summer holiday, we call attention to Supply Chain Matters readers that Enterprise Information Management (EIM) technology provider OpenText held its OpenText Enterprise World 2017 customer conference in Toronto earlier this month.

The most significant announcement generated from this conference was the announced availability of OpenText Magellan, a new artificial intelligence and analytics technology platform designed to allow users the abilities to acquire, merge, manage and analyze volumes of data and content resident across various enterprise systems.

We initially called attention to the Magellan effort in our highlights of last year’s OpenText Enterprise World conference. At that time, Project Magellan was described as a next generation cognitive platform designed to integrate voice, video, natural language processing and other content. It was outlined as an open-systems based platform that would leverage both the Spark Apache platform along with the analytics capabilities of Actuate, OpenText’s prior acquired advanced analytics provider.

A year ago, CEO Mark Barrenechea was not shy in making a direct head-to-head technology comparison with the IBM Watson Cognitive platform and that his company will compete directly as an alternative platform in the market. As promised, OpenText management timed the formal announcement of general availability at this year’s conference.

An on-stage demonstration of this new platform described the application as an artificial intelligence based data discovery tool where data scientists or sophisticated users can utilize drag and drop technology to build rather advanced algorithms to collections of existing data sets. Once such algorithms are established, they can be applied to subsequent analysis of existing data to provide a basis for more predictive analytics related to areas such as customer buying patterns, refining of specific customer demographics or even specific supply chain management decision needs such as predictions of specific product or customer demand based on buying and other external patterns.

Once again, there was an emphatic emphasis on the leveraging of standard open languages such as Apache Spark vs. the proprietary technology approach of IBM’s Watson platform.  The important emphasis for OpenText is the ability to deliver a cognitive AI platform with pre-integrated open stack components with minimized efforts and expertise required to go-live, at a more attractive price point.

From our lens, the obvious question is whether the market is currently ready to adopt such a platform. Candidly, OpenText has not previously been viewed for its openness approach, but Magellan represents a bold pivot in company and product strategy. The opportunity to present a direct and perhaps more attractive alternative to IBM Watson is predicated on three unanswered questions.

The first and most obvious is the ability of the company’s sales, marketing, technical representatives, or systems integration partners to provide a cohesive and comprehensive sales development approach related to an enterprise class cognitive platform vs. a custodial information management platform. This is where market readiness will provide the litmus test as well as the notions of targeting the most obvious starting points that large collections of customers need technology to solve. Our belief is that there could well be various mission-critical supply chain management decision-making needs in such evaluations, especially approaches that can leverage externally based information sources that represent the entire product or services value-chain.  To its credit, OpenText has recruited individuals with experience in such areas.

The second is the ultimate price-point established for Magellan, which we have not been able to ascertain up to this point. Total cost competitiveness remains a rather sensitive criterion for technology adoption, especially in enterprise dimensions. Head-to-head competition can be based on price or functionality. In most cases and by our observations, price trumps functionality.

The third, and likely most important open question is the development of a record of accomplishment of installed customer value and active cognitive platform customer advocates. This has been an area where IBM Watson, as well as other providers, have had a mixed record of accomplishment to-date, and will serve as OpenText’s greatest opportunity over the coming months. While OpenText has established valued relationships with enterprise vendors such as SAP and Oracle, being perceived as a direct competitor in cognitive platform requires walking a very fine line.

Supply Chain Matters we continue to monitor this area and will provide timely updates in the coming weeks.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.


Why the Supply Chain is So Important for Regulated Industry Environments- A Contributed Guest Posting


Supply Chain Matters founder and Executive Editor Bob Ferrari recently provided a guest blog commentary hosted on the MasterControl Compliance Accelerated blog.

Within this commentary, Ferrari argues that there is little doubt that pharmaceutical, life sciences and healthcare related supply chains are unique in their combined mission to manage adherence to regulatory processes, insuring that the highest quality of products are delivered to healthcare providers, and to position supply chain capabilities and decision-making to support expected line-of-business and financial outcomes.  The role of the supply chain has moved beyond transactional to one of mitigation of risk as well as key business outcome enabler. The mission is now one of insuring agility, resiliency and more timely and successful business outcomes.

To perform this mission, industry supply chain teams need to provide a keen focus on fundamental core competencies that can support multiple missions. Outlined is a dedicated focus on five key supply chain competencies, which serves as a reminder to our Supply Chain Matters readership as well.

This was part of a series of exchanged guest postings on both this blog and that of MasterControl. In late June, Alex Butler, Medical Device Product Manager, Master Control, pointed out to our Supply Chain Matters reading audience, why a supplier quality management system helps to minimize supply chain deviations.

Both of our guest postings are an effort to provide broader education and awareness to the increased importance of supply chain business process and decision-making within regulated industry environments.


© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

Supply Chain Matters Blog On Summer Pause


This posting is to alert readers that the Supply Chain Matters team will be taking a summer vacation pause to partake of some needed rest and rejuvenation.Supply Chain Matters Blog 350 100 J Supply Chain Matters Blog On Summer Pause

While we may post an occasional important or critical update, our normal cadence of blog posting activity will resume the week of 23 July.

During this pause, readers are welcomed to explore our vast amount of content related to multi-industry supply chain management business processes, information technology and other related topics. We know there is significant content because we recently had to add additional data storage to the blog.

To assist readers, below is a select listing of some of our most-read blogs so-far this year, as-well as in 2016. Perhaps these can be part of your summer reading.


What are Specific Skill Needs and Gaps in Supply Chain Management? (February 26, 2016)

Supply Chain Matters highlights results and an infographic from a supply chain skills survey conducted by Canadian based Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting outlining what specific hard and soft skills are organizations looking for in their hiring and recruiting efforts. Supply chain skills and talent development content has consistently drawn reader interest.


The Future of Supply Chain Planning (May 2, 2017)

The first in a market education series that explores changing needs in supply chain planning, what is termed concurrent supply chain planning, and why it is becoming a more important capability to support today’s multi-industry supply chain business environments.


A Path Towards Internet of Things Enabled Service Management- Service Parts Planning Realities (June 13, 2017)

A content education series on building the foundations for robust, more efficient, less costly service and aftermarket parts planning capability while building the foundation for IoT enabled service management business models.


Articulating Supply Chain Needs in the Language of the C-Suite (May 11, 2017)

The latest economic and business data reinforces that supply chain leaders must more than ever, be able to translate investment needs in the language of the C-suite and in the notions of delivering desired business outcomes.


Airbus and Boeing Continue to Experience Supply Chain Scale-Up Challenges (May 2, 2016)

After announcing Q1 financial and operational performance results, both Airbus and Boeing addressed ongoing challenges related to their supply chains and expected performance for 2016 total aircraft delivery commitments. We shared candid comments from Airbus’s CEO as to the global producer’s most critical new product introductions and clear signs of concerns related to various supply chain challenges.


The Value Proposition for Cloud Computing is Broader in Scope and in Business Implications (January 22, 2016)

Our commentary explored the implications of a full Cloud-based technology suite in supporting broad supply chain business process needs after industry analyst Bob Ferrari completed nearly two days of briefings and conference presentations related to Oracle’s Cloud based technology offerings. One takeaway provided was to view Cloud from the perspective of a broader focus on an engineered suite of pre-integrated software applications that are continually updated to reflect changing business needs.


Technology Addressing the Convergence of Internet of Things and Smart Manufacturing Deployments (March 23, 2017)

As a follow-up to Supply Chain Matters attendance and coverage of Oracle’s Modern Supply Chain Experience Conference, we highlighted some sessions that addressed Internet of Things (IoT) enablement of future smart manufacturing, supply chain and service management business processes.


Sports Authority- A Disturbing Twist to Consignment Inventory Management Practices (March 17, 2016)

Characterized as one of the largest sporting-goods retailers, Sports Authority was weighted down with debt from a prior leveraged buyout a decade ago. We called attention to a disturbing development in the ongoing bankruptcy process, as the retail chain filed lawsuits with more than 160 suppliers challenging supplier claims to consigned inventories. We opined that this development had significant ramifications for supplier collaboration practices within retail as well as other consumer goods focused supply chains.


Chipotle’s Consumer Trust Crisis Enters a New Critical Phase (February 9, 2016)

One of our early blogs in a series of ongoing commentaries we outlined from a supply chain lens regarding the business, brand and supply chain crisis that impacted Chipotle Mexican Grill after hundreds of consumers were sickened by a series of varying incidents ranging from E-coli outbreaks to norovirus that date back to the summer of 2015. We opined that too much attention was being applied to corporate marketing vs. supply chain and restaurant risk mitigation efforts.


Look to the Cloud to Support the Modern B2B Network (September 1, 2016)

This blog commentary addressed an organization’s journey toward mature B2B information integration and how this is made possible by today’s advanced cloud-based platforms, applications and infrastructure. We opined that there is no question that analytics and broader, more predictive business insight capabilities are opportunities to transform B2B business and supply chain business networks. The opportunity — and indeed the necessity — is to leverage an end-to-end business network to synchronize planning, execution, customer fulfillment and more predictive decision-making needs.


Thanks again to all our globally located Supply Chain Matters readers for their continued readership and frequent visits. Thanks as well to our sponsors, clients, and network contacts for their continued support.

Bob Ferrari, Founder, and Executive Editor

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

American Airlines Closer to Cloud Platform Adoption


The 4th of July holiday traditionally kicks-off the summer vacationing season for many in the United States, a time to take pause from the day-to-day stresses of work. Likewise, Canada Day is a kickoff to summer activities for Canadians.

Some readers may painfully recall that there were a series of multi-airline system-wide outages that subsequently frustrated many hundreds of airline travelers hoping to get-away to vacation destinations only to delayed or stranded by systems that failed.

Very shortly, American Airlines will be converting its customer-facing web site and passenger check-in services to an enterprise Cloud platform to alleviate last year’s disruptions.  American Airlines Plane American Airlines Closer to Cloud Platform Adoption

Last year’s systems outages impacted multiple airlines, including American, Delta, Southwest and United. The explosion of online travel booking, major business changes caused by industry mergers and acquisitions, along with passenger needs for real-time information on any device including smartphones, literally taxed the performance of the industry’s legacy systems, many of which had origins in the mainframe computing era.

Last October, American Airlines successfully consolidated its internal operational systems allowing both merged U.S. Airways and American operations to be controlled and managed on a single system. The effort was described as a major undertaking, involving upwards of 500 applications, requiring a large amount of pre-planning. At the time, the CIO of American Airlines indicated to the Dallas Morning News that 1.3 million hours of IT staff time was invested in the conversion effort. As Supply Chain Matters reinforced in October, there is little tolerance for taking down airline operational and customer-facing systems that literally must operate around-the-clock, every day.  Many supply chain management mission-critical systems share such a challenge.

Also in October, American disclosed plans to move major portions of its customer-facing systems, including and airport check-in kiosks to a Cloud based deployment model. In November, the airline announced the selection of IBM’s Cloud platform over market competitors.

Nine months since that decision, the conversion to Cloud is about to begin.

A posting appearing on Business Insider, American Airlines looks to the IBM Cloud to end travel hell, indicates that the airline is now starting to move its online services to IBM’s Cloud platform. American has apparently declined to indicate when such changes will take effect for customers, indicating instead that development efforts are underway and will go-live soon.  That is an indication that planning and operational stress testing is probably underway. The Insider report does indicate that the airline still has legacy and third-party applications still in operation that will stay in-place on the backend, after the front-end systems move to the Cloud. That is another similarity to today’s supply chain systems landscape.

One item of interest for supply chain management IT support teams was American’s preference for a Cloud system featuring an open source platform that would allow the managing of multiple Cloud-based systems. Supply Chain Matters has previously pointed out that this has become a rather important consideration in efforts to integrate supply chain B2B business networks that involve many different Cloud-based applications such as procurement, planning, customer fulfillment, transportation and logistics. In the light of this week’s global cyberattack that impacted multiple systems including those of the world’s largest container shipping line, selecting an enterprise vendor as a principle customer-facing Cloud platform provides some assurances that information security and systems patches are always up to date.

The American Airlines Cloud conversion will no-doubt, be watched very carefully but both airline industry and other industry business and IT technology executives. There is obviously a lot at stake in terms of an airline’s and a major enterprise tech vendor’s brand images. An operational or system disruption will be closely monitored, but then again, airline passengers are not shy in sharing their frustrations on social media.

For supply chain management and line-of-business teams, what is underway in the airline industry will provide important learning relative to proper planning, conversion of mission-critical systems, and the benefits promised from Cloud platform adoption.


We take this opportunity to wish all of our U.S. and other Supply Chain Matters readers a wonderful and safe 4th of July holiday along with a restful summer vacation free of travel stresses.



Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

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