This week will feature some noteworthy announcements in the supply chain and B2B network technology arena.

We begin with today’s announcement that Elementum, which describes itself as the first mobile platform for end-to-end supply chain management,  formally announced its market launch after 18 months in stealth mode as well as securing $44 million in Series B funding from Lightspeed Ventures.. The actual genesis of this B2B network comes from global contract manufacturer Flextronics, also an investor as well as a primary user. Flextronics has been utilizing the Elementum platform to plan and coordinate aspects of its own global supply chain and is now extending both the platform and the established network connections to other potential customers, including consumer products producer Dyson, also noted as a current customer.

The company’s marketing tag line is: Supply chain made simple, which is perhaps a bit too simplistic in message. It is great for marketing purposes but many of our readers are acutely aware that managing today’s global supply chains is not at all simple.

Supply Chain Matters was briefed on the cloud-based platform and technology stack incorporated within Elementum in early December. The rather interesting aspect is the network’s data management, end user experience and security model. It is described as rather similar to Facebook and Linked-In and indeed that is what we observed. It offers intuitive software primarily targeted at mobile based users providing action-oriented coordination based on evolving events.  For our IT based readers, this multi-tenant platform is anchored in massively scalable data management techniques, REST-based API’s and Hardoop data extraction and synthesis. The technology embraces a graph-like network data model providing synthesis and visibility to information associated to activities occurring across the supply chain. It includes both structured and unstructured information sources.

The Elementum marketing team has commissioned a slick You Tube video to demonstrate its mobile-based functionality

Initially available are three applications that are named Perspective, Exposure and Transport.

Perspective is an executive dashboard like mobile based application that helps to monitor and respond to supply chain key performance indicators including supplier performance, cycle times, working capital and some others.  In our briefing we were informed that Tom Linton, Chief procurement and Supply Chain Officer at Flextronics is a current mobile user of this particular application. The Exposure app provides real-time monitoring of risk management through an event monitoring center. If an event has significant impact on a particular supply site, the app alerts to that site through calculation of bill of material supply links.  The Transport app provides visibility to existing distribution and transport movements and provides predictive alerts to potential late shipments.

Flextronics is not a new comer in the area of software spinoffs.  Does anyone remember SimFlex Group a supply chain planning and optimization provider spin-off many years ago along with other B2B supplier management offerings?

On the one hand, prospective customers get the intellectual where with all and experience of a globally-based contract manufacturer with a massive supply base satisfying multiple OEM customers needs.  On the other, it is a Flextronics based perspective grounded in high tech and consumer electronics supply chain ecosystem practices.

There are other cloud-based offerings available in today’s B2B connectivity, direct and indirect procurement technology market.  Some emphasize supplier management, procurement, deep supply chain planning, B2B messaging or transportation and execution fulfillment. This whole area remains in a state of change with broadening technology footprints and ongoing M&A activity.   Our view is that at some point, one or a few of these networks will be closest to enabling true supply chain control tower management capabilities.

In the meantime, $40 million in funding coupled with the best in talent can lead to some interesting potentials down the road, not to mention another B2B network player for consideration.

Bob Ferrari