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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.

 

 


 


A Report Profiling Apple’s First Responder EFFA Program

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In the week that Apple staged its massive media event announcing two of its newest iPhone models, BloombergBusinessweek featured an intriguing article titled: Apple’s iPhone 6 First Responders. The report serves as a very timely reminder of the critical importance for harvesting product performance and service reliability information very early in the product launch stages.

The Apple program outlined is termed early field failure analysis (EFFA). The Bloomberg authors had a novel spin as to the purpose, one that may well resonate with our reader audience: “ As customers line up to buy the device (iPhone) around the world, Apple employees will show up at work to learn how they screwed up- and fix it.

Humor aside, the Apple program was conceived to resolve problems before they become far larger in-scope, when they are far more expensive to resolve across an outsourced supply chain. Bloomberg cites former Apple employee sources as indicating that EFFA testing is most stringent during the device’s first weeks of consumer sales, but can continue longer as problems arise. Therefore, the EFFA program for the iPhone 6 models is most likely underway as we pen this commentary. Once more, the report confirms that defective Apple devices returned at Apple retail outlets are directly airfreighted to Cupertino where the phone is physically examined and where manufacturing history can be traced to individual workers on an assembly line. There are some rather fascinating examples of how previous problems were found and resolved before they became a thorn.

The report is worthy of a read since it provides further evidence of the importance of connecting the service management business process with the product supply chain. It further provides evidence of how Apple’s product management and supply chain teams harness early feedback information related to specific products to avoid more costly issues and to protect the image of the brand. I suppose we could add that it also avoids the wrath of CEO Tim Cook when consumers feedback any displeasure in an Apple product.

Bob Ferrari

 


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


Supply Chain Matters News Capsule-August 29; McDonalds, Boeing, Oracle E-Business Suite

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It’s the end of the calendar work week and the prelude to the Labor Day Holiday weekend in the U.S… This commentary is our running news capsule of developments related to previous Supply Chain Matters posted commentaries or news developments.

In this capsule commentary, we include the following updates:

Report that McDonalds is Reevaluating its China Supplier

Boeing and a Major Supply Chain Partner Land a Big Order

Oracle Announces Release of E-Business Suite 12.2.4

 

Report that McDonalds is Reevaluating its China Supplier

A few weeks ago, Supply Chain Matters highlighted a Wall Street Journal report that indicated that in the light of China’s food regulators finding the existence of certain expired meat products within the McDonalds supply chain in China that the restaurant chain was going to give the benefit of doubt to its long-time supply chain supplier of 59 years, OSI Group, who’s China based subsidiary, Shanghai Husi Food Company was allegedly implicated in the expired meat mis-labeling investigation.

This week, the WSJ published a follow-up report that now indicates that McDonalds is reconsidering its prior relationship with OSI Group. The report quotes a corporate spokesperson as indicating that in the past six weeks, the OSI partnership for supply of China outlets has been suspended. After due-diligence investigation by McDonalds, the chain suspended all cooperation with Shanghai Husi as of July 20th, which precipitated a near three week shortage of meat products for outlets in China and Hong Kong. The chain is instead positioning alternative suppliers Cargill and Keystone Foods to increase supply capacity within China.

Considering both WSJ reports spanning a month, its somewhat confusing to ascertain if McDonald’s has indeed been standing by a loyal supplier. We can only speculate that due diligence either uncovered troubling labeling practices or the restaurant chain feels an entirely new supplier slate is needed for China and other Asia outlets.

 

Boeing and a Major Supply Chain Partner Land a Big Order

In our ongoing Supply Chain Matters commentaries directed at commercial aerospace supply chains, we have echoed the new buying influence of airlines and leasing operators supporting emerging market regions such as China and greater Asia.

This week, Boeing and Singapore based BOC Aviation, a leading aircraft lessor in Asia, announced a near $9 billion order, at list prices, for a total of 82 new aircraft. The order includes 50 of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8s, 30 Next-Generation 737-800’s and two 777-300 Extended Range aircraft. These new aircraft are destined for expansion or replacement needs for a number of unnamed airline operators across Asia with deliveries spanning the time period from 2016 to 2021. According to a published report by Bloomberg and The Seattle Times, the estimated order is more likely to be $4.2 billion when discounting is factored. That is obviously a reflection of buyer power.

The Boeing order follows a mid-July announcement from BOC Aviation of an order from Airbus consisting of an additional 43 A320 and A321 series aircraft with deliveries extending through 2019. Airbus had additionally landed a sale of $11.8 billion of new aircraft from Japan based lessor SMBC Aviation. The Bloomberg report quotes a spokesperson as indicating that BOC Aviation projects receiving an average 27 planes a year starting in 2015, while also disposing of 20 to 30 annually.

In the adage that a rising tide raises all supply chain boats, another major beneficiary of the bulk BOC Aviation order involves the aircraft engine consortium of CFM International, the joint venture between General Electric and Safran.  CFM was the recipient for orders involving 100 LEAP-1B and 60 CFM56-7BE engines that is valued at $2 billion at list prices.  The engine orders additionally include longer-term, multi-year service and maintenance considerations.

 

Oracle Announces Release of E-Business Suite 12.2.4

Oracle recently announced the release of Oracle E-Business Suite 12.2.4. According to the announcement, this latest release provides an updated user experience, significant customer-driven enhancements across the applications suite, with added integrations to Oracle Cloud Solutions.

This particular release has many enhancements related to the support of various supply chain procurement and customer fulfillment technology enhancements. Highlights include:

Oracle Procurement: Web ADI–enabled spreadsheet creation and modification of purchase order lines, schedules, and distributions to improve buyer productivity when dealing with large orders.

Oracle iProcurement: A streamlined single-step checkout flow allowing employees to quickly complete shopping activities and initiate the requisition approval process.

Oracle Procurement Contracts: Improved buyer efficiency from auditing of contract documents by reviewing details of policy deviations and net clause additions.

Oracle Services Procurement: Enhanced capabilities provide buyers with greater flexibility to support a broad range of complex order scenarios.

Oracle Channel Revenue Management: Improved volume offer capabilities and a streamlined user interface enable users to quickly adapt to changing business conditions.

Oracle Order Management: A long overdue new HTML user interface addressing improved usability, greater flexibility, and a more modern user experience.

Oracle Yard Management: A new solution enables manufacturing, distribution, and asset-intensive organizations to manage and track the flow of trailers and their contents into, within, and out of the yards of distribution centers, production campuses, transportation terminals, and other facilities.

Oracle Manufacturing: Significant usability improvements in the Oracle Manufacturing Execution System (MES) help improve operator productivity by simplifying time entry and quality collection. New capabilities to manage the auto-de-kit (disassembly) of serialized products supports customer returns and internal reuse of component parts.

Oracle Enterprise Asset Management: Enhancements to support linear assets in industries, such as oil and gas, utilities, and public sector, help improve productivity and retire costly integrations and custom code.

Oracle Service: Enhanced spare parts planner’s dashboard provides rich user interaction to improve planner productivity.

Oracle Value Chain Planning: Numerous enhancements across multiple products include deeper industry functionality, such as minimum remaining shelf-life enhancements for the pharmaceutical and consumer goods industries, multistage production synchronization for process industries, and integration between Oracle Service Parts Planning and Oracle Enterprise Asset Management for asset-intensive industries. New promotions planning analytics in Oracle Advanced Planning Command Center improve business insight.

 

 


The Most Important Considerations in Your Organization’s Supply Chain Technology Investment Plans

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Tomorrow, this author will be joining a distinguished compliment of speakers at the 7th Annual Supply Chain Management Summit sponsored by Bryant University and Benneker Industries. This event is turning out to be one of few premiere New England regional conferences focused on current issues and learning in supply chain management. Last year’s event drew upwards of 250 attendees among many industry settings.

Since many of our readers are located across the globe, the purpose of this Supply Chain Matters commentary is to summarize the key messages and takeaways of my talk.

My presentation is titled: New Developments in Supply Chain Technology- What to Consider in Your Supply Chain Investment Plans. The key takeaway messages I’ll be delivering is that three converging mega-forces:

  • Constantly shifting customer and business needs requiring sense and response, as well as  more predictive business processes and decision-making capabilities.
  • Supply chain process and IT technology convergence providing more cost affordable opportunities for integrating both physical as well as digital information and decision-making capabilities.
  • Digitally enabled manufacturing enabled by the Internet of Things.

are aligning toward extraordinary opportunities for what has long been the Holy Grail of our community, namely, integrating information and decision making across physical and digital supply chain spectrums. The alignments of the above mega-forces are providing significant opportunities in management alignment and top management sponsorship which can be leveraged. New and emerging technologies, especially engineered systems, cloud computing, predictive and prescriptive analytics are becoming the technology catalysts. Besides touching upon the latest advances and significantly changed IT market dynamics surrounding supply chain technology, my primary goal in this talk will be to advise supply chain teams on the most important investments to focus upon in the coming months and years.

First and foremost, and without question, the most important initiative for any supply chain organization today is a concerted set of initiatives directed at Talent Management. The business benefits of advanced technology are marginal without people who have the necessary and required skills to be able to leverage and harness these technologies. Recruitment, retention and increased skill needs are constantly identified as the single biggest challenge across C-level, business, IT supply chain and manufacturing teams, and the challenge will continue as newer technologies make their presence among industry supply chains.

More than ever in the past, supply chain, procurement, customer fulfillment, product lifecycle management and service management teams must have active technology awareness and planning strategies.  The umbrella and accountability of the supply chain now involves far broader dimensions of common information and related decision-making needs. The notion of the goal for pursuing Integrated Business Planning is not just IT vendor hype, but a necessary and required capability. An organization’s Sales and Operations Planning capability is thus the most critical to focus and improve upon. That stated, an important reminder for cross-functional and cross-business remains that final objective is not technology alone, but rather required business objectives and outcomes.

I’m also urging technology selection teams to broaden their context of their technology planning to include leveraging information and decision-making capabilities across an end-to-end, value-chain and B2B business network. With today’s pace of business change, supply chain planning or forecasting can no longer stand-alone as a capability, and must be augmented and synchronized with the sensing of actual events occurring across the supply chain network.  The good news here is that the supply chain technology market has shifted its emphasis toward broader support capabilities in this area.

For those who plan on attending tomorrow’s Summit, I look forward to meeting and chatting with all of you regarding your organizational and personal objectives. For those unable to attend, be advised that next week we will post a PDF copy of the presentation in our Supply Chain Matters Research Center for complimentary reader downloading.  Minimal registration information is all that is required.

As always, give as a call or contact us via email if you require further assistance or if this type of presentation can assist your organization or forum in setting its supply chain management objectives for the coming year. Our home page can be accessed at this web link.

Bob Ferrari


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