This Supply Chain Matters blog posting serves as an update to our prior mid-February posting regarding supply chain B2B platform provider E2open’s announced merger with sales and operations planning (S&OP) and supply chain planning technology support provider Steelwedge. This latest deal follows prior acquisitions of icon-scm for supply chain planning simulation technology, Terra Technology for deeper levels of business intelligence and data management, and Orchestro for product demand sensing support.
This week, we had the opportunity to view an online webcast, anchored by E2open CEO Michael Farlekis, which was directed at both customer communities to serve as an update on strategic direction.
Both tech providers come together to serve a combined installed base of 160 customers with some stellar nameplates and diverse industry supply chain settings. The E2open side includes Cisco, Dell, HP, Kimberly Clark, Mondelez International, P&G, Unilever, Kraft-Heinz, among others. With the merger of Steelwedge, added industry vertical presence includes Nissan and Land Rover in automotive as well as some common customer among high-tech supply chains.
CEO Farlekis described the combined value proposition as universal cloud connectivity of the extended supply chain supported by a broad offering of applications. He reiterated that scale matters citing a host of numbers related to platform users, countries supported and volumes of transactions and item categories now supported.
With Steelwedge’s S&OP and baseline continuous planning support capabilities, E2open goal is for customers to be able to extend this process to include the inclusion of supply chain partners including key customers, suppliers, and trading partners.
SVP of Product Management and Strategy, Pawan Joshi, outlined the full application and user-centric capabilities of E2net platform and confirmed our prior belief that Steelwedge will provide augmented S&OP support capability, and that the existing technology will be fully integrated into E2open’s technology and platform stack over time, including the E2open Harmony Dashboard.
Plans call for integrating the Steelwedge data model and functionality into that of E2open’s, supported by the current singular platform sign-on and user interfaces. Regarding anticipated integration timelines communicated, initial data interface and user interface integration is expected to occur during 90-day release timelines this year, with full integration and rationalizing of planning functionality expected by early 2018. CEO Farlekis indicated there will be no change in existing support contracts with Steelwedge customers.
Given the above, the presenters declared that all existing Steelwedge customers will have access to the combined product portfolio and that E2open account managers will now serve Steelwedge accounts in their broader end-to-end platform support needs. We have learned that E2open plans to sell Steelwedge as a stand-alone offering until the integration process is completed, but that may present somewhat of a challenge given that prospective customers will want to understand the broader product integration.
There are subsequent individual briefings being planned with existing Steelwedge accounts and it would behoove these customers to seek more specifics regarding access to E2open’s platform capabilities, expected changes in functionality as well as the full integration timeline. Long-time pricing is another consideration, along with E2open’s ongoing efforts to improve its balance sheet.
Our prior observation that Steelwedge clearly needed an infusion of new capital and thought leadership coupled with more savvy marketing and sales execution resources was obviously reinforced by this customer update. Privately-held E2open seems to communicating the flexibility to be able to undertake this effort and hopefully, in an aggressive timeline. With its expanding B2B Business Network platform capabilities supporting procurement replenishment, continuous planning, execution, and collaboration, E2open will likely gain added market attention.
Before closing this commentary, this supply chain industry analyst would like to share an additional thought or two. We have long advocated that an S&OP process should be able to include and support the participation of key external partners in the overall process and in shared decision-making. That stated, such a capability does require some maturity in accurate master data and information management, scenario and what-if planning methods, collaborative based practices, and joint decision-making. With E2open’s platform, the opportunity exists to extend S&OP to extended supply chain partners, but change management and process readiness are important considerations to not overlook.
Supply Chain Matters will feature additional updates on E2open as developments warrant.
© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.
This Supply Chain Matters market education series directed at clarifying needs and requirements addressing supply chain wide visibility.
One of the most critical challenges cited by multi-industry supply chain teams is consistently expressed as wider and deeper supply chain visibility. This challenge is becoming universal as industry supply and value-chain processes continue to become more complex with constant changes in needs for business support. The notions of increased direct involvement in B2B-to-C and direct B2C customer fulfillment adds even more impetus for broader multi-tier supply chain visibility, particularly when it concerns a view of total inventory. Likewise, with future Internet-of Things (IoT) enabled business models now attracting more attention from senior business management for growing top-line revenue growth, such models will likewise need a foundation in much broader levels of supply chain visibility.
As noted in the first commentary of this educational series, supply chain wide visibility often stems from differing business process perspectives or different business priorities that can involve planning, customer fulfillment execution, supply chain intelligence as well as other more informed and more-timely decision-making needs. Often, this visibility term is lumped into other challenges including supply chain wide traceability, transparency, capacity, or inventory management. Thus, it is rather important for teams to clarify specific short and long-term visibility capability needs and decision-support requirements from the ongoing distraction of day-to-day symptoms stemming from lack of needed information. Equally important is to build a phased approach in tackling visibility with a broader vision in mind, one that can support multiple process and decision-making support needs over time.
In our second commentary in this series, we stated that creating a unified view of important data related to supply chain business processes is not a simple task without first considering foundational strategies. Supply chain data and information is typically spread among multiple systems in both structured transactional or unstructured data and information formats. Supply chain wide visibility, by our continued view, is not about a rip and replace technology strategy since that would be far too disruptive. We advocate that visibility should be viewed in the context of building-out enhanced decision-making support capabilities from more streamlined and better accessible sources of existing planning, execution, and customer fulfillment information.
In our third series commentary, we addressed the information technology considerations for supply chain wide visibility. We observed that too many supply chain focused organizations are drowning in too much data, pulling such data from multiple sources without proper context, organizational knowledge, or user-friendly data management tools. We put forth the analogy of an information utility platform where key data is automatically ‘streaming’ (vs. statically housed) from various existing supply chain focused software applications, be that planning, logistics or customer fulfillment The data utility should make it easier to collect, validate, cleanse, normalize and model data to form information insights that support decision-making needs that can either be what-if scenario based, simulation based, or actual operationally based. Other analysts are utilizing terms related to historian, data lake or store to refer to such a capability to feed various needs in supply chain wide decision-making.
Supply Chain Wide Visibility and Knowledge Management
In this our fourth commentary, we address the concepts of knowledge management in the context of the need for greater levels of supply chain wide visibility, and in the important notions of process-people and technology dimensions.
In today’s industry supply chains, knowledge is often distributed across multi-function, multi-geography and multi-level dimensions. That is why creating supply chain focused centers-of-excellence (COE) is so important as a means for better managing constant business changes and more timely decision-making because a COE should include a basis of virtual centralized knowledge in its core mission.
If you have followed along with our 2017 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains, you likely know that COE’s are going to be very busy and very important to analyzing, simulating or managing even more expected changes, particularly in areas of global outsourcing, near shoring or Omni-channel customer fulfillment needs.
From the people lens, we predicted a supply chain talent perfect storm occurring, further implying the need for virtual knowledge related to planning, execution and customer fulfillment process and decision-making needs. The ongoing pressures for added people and process productivity along more with data-driven decision making capabilities will add to needs for supply chain digital transformation, which has a strong dependency on talent and organizational readiness. Organizations that are driven more by digital transformation capabilities imply self-directed teams, consequent avoidance of barriers among supply chain functional and line-of-business teams with tighter decision feedback loops. Multiple user-centric spreadsheets or information work-arounds are not the answer to more timely and more informed decision-making needs. Having more automated and far more user-friendly tools for assimilating the most appropriate data and needed insights, and the ability of COE teams to test the outcomes of certain decisions via either what-if or simulation models is a better and more rewarding leverage of talent and knowledge.
Regarding technology, the challenge is to leverage the information and insights generated by existing software applications into more meaningful and detailed analytics that can predict various outcomes of decisions and help teams to determine the most risk-balanced decision. Supply Chain network design and planning technology provider LLamasoft references this need as “Planning by Design”. Other technology providers refer to capabilities toward more adaptable supply chain systems or optimizing planning and operational performance. From our lens, the need being addressed is leveraging existing data, information, and insights into more prescriptive and predictive supply chain decision-making capabilities without the need to disrupt or replace existing core supply chain systems and by empowering existing teams with more user-centric, user-friendly decision support capabilities.
The good news here is that today’s advances in data management, business and data intelligence focused technology makes such approaches far more doable from a cost-effective deployment perspective.
Implementing broader and deeper levels of supply chain wide visibility starts with a broad vision, firm foundation, concise and unified view of data and information needs directed at building broader levels of insight. They can be enabled by supply chain centers of excellence empowered by virtual knowledge management concepts and by a focus toward more user-centric, prescriptive, and predictive decision-making capabilities anchored in the timeliest supply chain wide data and information.
© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.
This educational series has been sponsored by LLamasoft, Inc.
Deep Dive on 2017 Prediction Seven: Enhanced Supply Chain Intelligence Capabilities Among B2B Network Platform and Managed Services Providers Will Pay Dividends for Industry Supply Chains
The following Supply Chain Matters blog is part of our ongoing series of deep dives into each of our previously unveiled ten 2017 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains.
At the start of the New Year, our parent, the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group along with our Supply Chain Matters blog as a broadcast medium, provide a series of predictions for the coming year. These predictions are shared in the spirit of assisting industry specific and global supply chain cross-functional teams in helping to set management objectives for the year ahead. Our further goal is helping our readers and clients to prepare supply chain management and line-of-business teams in establishing impactful programs, initiatives, and educational agendas.
The context for these predictions includes a broad cross-functional umbrella of supply chain strategy, planning, execution, product lifecycle management, procurement, manufacturing, transportation, logistics and customer service management.
In an earlier Supply Chain Matters blog postings, we provided deep dives related to:
In this deep-dive series posting, we drill down on our next prediction.
2017 Prediction Seven- Enhanced Supply Chain Intelligence Capabilities Among B2B Network Platform and Managed Services Providers Will Pay Dividends for Customers
In 2017 and beyond, there will exist increased industry specific needs for deeper and wider levels of customer, product, physical object and supply network focused information visibility, capture and analysis. This need is coupled to building multi-industry supply chain requirements for more predictive, analytics data-driven decision making competencies that involve outside-in insights. The objective is a literal 360-degree view of supply chain wide data and information, horizontally spanning the end-to-end supply and vertically coupling high level enterprise to shop-floor decision-support needs. Enhanced business intelligence and overall process improvements further enhances the ability of industry supply chains to support new, more innovative business models that can leverage digital technologies in areas of product or customer related services.
A means to achieve such capabilities are analytics and business intelligence engines that are now being embedded across supply chain focused B2B network platforms, edge systems and production shop floor transactional and information transfer flows. B2B business networks and edge platforms are today the prime opportunity for digitizing the horizontal and vertical flow of information and analytics across end-to-end supply chains. Whereas predominantly EDI messaging platforms were viewed as required external messaging utilities to transfer and receive transaction and electronic messaging information across disparate systems, there is now collective movement by network providers to transform these platforms to business intelligence and analytics based information repositories available to support broader supply chain and product focused decision support needs. As noted in Prediction Six, this an area where blockchain technology can have a profound long-term impact, but beyond that, many existing B2B technology platform vendors such as Ariba, an SAP Company, E2Open, GT Nexus, IBM, OpenText are already moving in the direction of blending supply chain wide planning and execution related transactional data with analytics, cognitive and business intelligence capture. Such analytics and trending information can then be moved to and from various existing business application systems related to planning and customer fulfillment.
Similarly, the vertical notions of what is being often described as either Industrial Networks, Industrial Internet and edge systems, are various physical devices communicating via IoT enabled technology, within their respective operational and performance status data streams. Here again, emerging IoT network technology providers are similarly incorporating cognitive and analytics based capabilities to synthesize the streaming levels of data being captured into information and required decision-making alerts.
An Evolving New Challenge
The evolving new challenge for industry supply chains will be the ability to exchange information and insights among various existing Cloud-based B2B networks and resident business software applications focused on either customer, product, supply, production, service or fulfillment process needs. This is a challenge that must be addressed in order to gain the full benefits of the Cloud. Ideally, supply chain teams will seek the ability to have a virtual information utility or data lake, but that could be expensive and many industry supply chain teams are not necessarily ready to manage such capabilities at this point. Today, such challenges fuel an evolving need for managed services providers or systems integrators to tie-together such structured and unstructured information and analytics in virtual streaming information and analytics data pools or zones available to all enterprise and supply chain business applications and systems.
Technology vendors now recognize this problem. For instance, Oracle recently released a Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Services utility as part of its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) Cloud infrastructure services. Oracle’s intent with this service is to support the needs of data movement, data transformation, data quality and applications integration among multiple Cloud platforms and applications.
Focus on a Networked Cloud Strategy
All the above stated, industry supply chain and line-of-business teams should strive to prioritize and scope certain business process decision need areas, for example customer fulfillment and logistics, or an initial supply chain control tower capability, and work with an individual platform vendor or focused systems integrator to start the journey towards streaming analytics and insights from external Cloud-based platforms. We view this as a prime process and business support opportunity for supply chain teams in 2017.
B2B or B2B-to-B2C business network platforms related to process needs in areas such as procurement, product management, planning, logistics or customer fulfillment should no longer be viewed as solely messaging or transactional platforms. Over time, they will serve as sources of analytics, insights and alerts related to process, suppliers, and customers. Business, functional and sales and operations planning teams can gain more real-time insights by broadening their perspectives beyond messaging to messaging and trending.
This concludes our Prediction Seven drill-down. In our next posting of this series, we will explore Prediction Eight reflecting on how Alibaba and Amazon will continue to battle for global online platform dominance.
© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.
This author had the opportunity to attend the Kinaxis Kinexions customer conference last week. Among the customer presentations there was a rather insightful talk from a supply chain executive at Ford Motor Company. This presentation delivered by David Thomas, Director of Global Capacity Planning at Ford was titled, Creating Global Standards Across Regional Sites, provided important insights on building and adopting global-wide data and business process standards without the use of traditional waterfall based program and change management methodologies. This technology effort underway at Ford is so different and novel, and conference attendees were citing this presentation as noteworthy and insightful. Thus are we sharing the highlights with our broader multi-industry cross-functional supply chain readership community.
Since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, the Ford Motor Company has been focused on “One Ford”, a series of foundational initiatives directed at overhauling unaligned management and business processes. This umbrella initiative was designed to address Ford’s internal tendencies toward regionally-based independence in P&L, product development and product value-chain strategies. Rather than operating as a single global based company, the emphasis was more toward disparate, top-heavy independent operating divisions. As was the case with many other manufacturing companies, the “near-death” experiences of the financial crisis provided the wake-up call to the requirement that Ford had to change.
Indeed, Ford was able to quickly bounce back from the financial crisis but Thomas described hitting another wall by 2011. Unforeseen global capacity restrictions were hindering growth. The major supply disruptions brought on by the devastating tsunami that impacted Northern Japan, and the major floods that effected Thailand’s automotive sector were another reminder that the company’s overall sales and operations planning was not globally aligned for capacity and resource based decision-making. That prompted the need for a global capacity planning initiative that would be able to coordinate global response to capacity and supply alignment needs based on singular planning data.
This global capacity planning team soon concluded that there were no existing global standards related to product and capacity data across Ford. Spreadsheets were the dominant planning mechanism, with differing dimensions of data and information that hindered any global perspectives to dimension problems or to assess resolution actions. Thomas described the prior dominant atmosphere as being described internally as “dumpster diving for data.” The team quickly came to the conclusion that a global-wide set of data standards supported by a single global planning system had to be initiated as quickly as possible. However, the initial goal was to provide consequential evidence that global-wide data standards would result in far more effective capacity and resource planning.
Rather than traditional system program management, the steering team elected to focus on a faster innovation cadence, that of two-month development processes. A total of 14 cycles of fast innovation focused at building management credibility on the business value of a globally aligned data supporting a common S&OP framework. Thomas described the selection of a pilot development window as a purposeful effort to uncover needs and provide more positive evidence to the business value for global data and information standards to improve decision-making. These efforts included painful methods directed at mapping data tables and building simplified Excel based extraction tools. Eventually, a cobbled together single view of global and capacity that included all regions, markets and major components was developed, enough to convince senior management of the value of a singular, authored, S&OP framework. Thomas described this pilot phase as advocating that a lot of little adjustments with improved visibility can save hundreds of millions of dollars.
This initial pilot effort provided the impetus to secure formal approval to move forward in the development of a global-based S&OP systems support initiative that remains underway across Ford. It is being designed to move away from a current monthly planning process to more agile, better-informed and more predictive planning.
For the subsequent phase of off-the-shelf application selection and implementation, the steering team again avoided a big-bang, multi-year waterfall planning effort that would involve as-is and to-be state analysis, and instead elected to go with a tops-down approach. Thomas indicated that the steering team avoided waterfall global workshops to depict future state needs because: “nobody would ever agree.” Thomas’s described a viewpoint that people are often conditioned by the tools they currently utilize to perform their jobs. Instead the effort was directed at the expectation that Ford will have a global S&OP system framework that would launch on-time without major business disruption.
The agile development approach carried over, and development teams now work to what was described as continuous two-week development milestones. Rather than assemble and allocate on a full-time basis a dedicated global team of Ford employees to manage overall implementation, a decision was made to utilize dedicated externally based experts, those that were not anchored in Ford’s past practices. The people who will ultimately utilized the global system work alongside the external team during the review phases. The current effort is described as including 9 dedicated resources from Kinaxis along with resources from Deloitte, Prana Consulting and Ford’s internal IT staff. Efforts are now underway to build full data transparency across all product demand and supply, along with provisions for regionally-based S&OP efforts that are collectively based on a more timely, global based planning data.
Thomas indicated that Ford is about 6-9 months away from global launch of its singular S&OP process framework. It was described as a big-change for thousands of people who do not really want their existing jobs to change but do want their jobs to be easier in the needs for gathering common, more insightful and meaningful supply-chain wide data that can provide for more informed decision-making relative to line-of-business and functional supply chain goals. Then again, a continuous development cycle is already providing the evidence of the benefits of a singular planning data model along with the value of managed scope efforts that stream continuous economic benefits for the business. Gone are the days of big-bang implementations that risk business disruption and significant added costs of change management and implementation.
Supply Chain Matters extends praise to Ford’s ongoing transformational planning efforts and we look forward to learning more about the post implementation results.
© Copyright 2016. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.
This commentary represents the third of our ongoing Supply Chain Matters market education series directed at clarifying needs and requirements addressing supply chain wide visibility.
One of the most critical challenges cited by multi-industry supply chain teams is extended supply chain visibility. This challenge is becoming universal as industry supply and value-chain processes continue to become more complex with constant changes in needs for business support. It is consistently cited by many supply chain leaders as a continued perplexing challenge.
As noted in the first commentary of this educational series, supply chain wide visibility often stems from differing business process perspectives or different business priorities that can involve planning, customer fulfillment execution, analytics and business intelligence as well as other more informed and more-timely decision-making needs. Often, this visibility term is lumped into other challenges including supply chain wide traceability, transparency, capacity or inventory management. Thus it is rather important for teams to clarify specific short and long-term visibility capability needs and decision-support requirements from the ongoing distraction of day-to-day symptoms stemming from lack of needed information.
In our second commentary in this series we stated that creating a unified view of important data related to supply chain business processes is not a simple task without first considering foundational strategies. Supply chain data and information is typically spread among multiple systems in both structured transactional or unstructured data and information formats, supporting each of these different processes. Supply chain wide visibility, by our continued view, is not about a rip and replace technology strategy since that would be far too disruptive. That is especially pertinent to disruption of backbone transactional systems. We advocated that visibility should be viewed in the context of building-out enhanced decision-making support capabilities from more streamlined and better accessible sources of existing and future planning, execution and customer fulfillment information.
Within this commentary we address the information technology considerations for supply chain wide visibility. However, before we begin, we need to state up-front that we are advising a cross-functional and cross-business, as well as an IT support audience. Thus our citing of technology will be in the context of the supply chain wide process and business outcome impacts for certain information technology considerations.
To be perfectly frank, from the user lens, significant challenges in creating a unified view of all supply chain data and information remain as unfulfilled. However, new Cloud or on premise in-memory, data visualization and data cleansing information technology tools now coming to market continue to improve and will better assist in this effort. In particular, the combination of advanced in-memory coupled with data visualization and analytics will add augmented computing power and a more enhanced user-interface.
Let’s briefly reflect on the history of past challenges.
Supply chain related information is typically processed and collected among multiple supply-chain software applications. Many of these applications, whether product, planning, procurement or execution related, created their own data store within or directly integrated to the application itself. The notions of information related to historic performance, current key performance indicators or future resource requirements invariably take on different meanings, especially if such applications were installed at different timeframes of the organization’s existence. They would typically include ERP applications, older legacy or specialty applications, centralized data warehouses or evolving more open standards data lakes. Whereas a newer supply chain planning system may have overcome some of these challenges, the context of other information would be lacking.
Thus, if a user or S&OP team member had to search for combinations of historic, current and future requirements information related to, for instance, planning and execution process needs, the search would invariably involve querying the specific applications as well as the information warehouse. A further challenge relates to making sure that the context for the data and information was framed properly. How many times have teams been frustrated in finally receiving the results of an IT enabled information request only to discover that the information was not appropriate or valid because of either improper context, lack of clean, consistent or complete data, the selection of an improper file or lack of synchronization of master data among different applications.
Is it no surprise that the fallback position was once again, the creation of multiple spreadsheets that end up to be an analysis at a certain point in time.
We continue to advocate that supply chain wide visibility, along with the information and insights garnered from such visibility, is best achieved in an architecture that includes a singular data and information utility. Readers should not interpret this to connote a large data warehouse. Too often in past efforts, such approaches have led to large and expensive data ‘monuments’ where all forms of information were collected without all-important context, and where such information could only be extracted without the direct assistance of IT based data administrators. This often created latency and time delays in retrieving such information.
As noted in our prior blog advisories, whereas in the past, IT teams and data administrators were the prime facilitators of integrated business process information and decision-making insights, today’s business demands require that appropriate line-of-business and supply chain wide functional teams serve as the generator of insights.
Consider the analogy of an information utility platform where key data is automatically ‘streaming’ (vs. statically housed) from various supply chain enterprise and internal software applications. The data is collected, validated, cleansed, normalized and modeled with other key internal and/or external data to form information insights. External reference data could relate to industry operational benchmarks, external transportation, production or inventory carrying costs as well as multi-industry benchmarks related to areas such as sustainability.
The information utility we are describing must be augmented by more user-friendly and user-centric information visualization, dashboard and analytics based tools to reflect more predictive or prescriptive insights relative to what the data and information implies in terms of operational, business, financial customer or strategic outcomes. With user-centric tools, augmented by automated routines once the data is validated, business users can overcome the need for direct IT assistance in specialized day-to-day information requests.
From an overall supply chain business strategy and support perspective, once a supply chain wide information utility we refer to is established, efforts directed at future initiatives related to supply chain control towers or Internet of Things (IoT) enabled process that bring together physical sensor and digital information can be better enabled by leveraging the same platform.
Here’s another caveat. Forget the vendor generated hype terminology of “Big Data’. That is not what supply chain wide visibility should be about. Rather think- ‘smarter data’. The necessary data required to more intelligently manage and predict required supply chain outcomes.
Again, end-to-end supply chain visibility is a journey. Start with the vision of the end-state, build the foundational business process constructs and the information utility. Then proceed with the usual people and process maturity needs and learning that get your organization to the objective.
© 2016 The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.
Disclosure: This educational series related to supply chain wide visibility is being sponsored by Supply Chain Matters sponsor, LLamasoft.