As we transition into the final month of 2011, we are revisiting the Supply Chain Matters 2011 Annual Predictions for Global Supply Chains which were outlined a year ago.  Our annual process is to first re-visit past projections made for the current year, in this case 2011, and declare some projections for the upcoming 2012 year, which will come in a later series of postings before the end of the year. In this Part Three posting, we will revisit predictions five through seven. Our earlier scorecards can be accessed by clicking on the following links:

Part One- Predictions One and Two

Part Two-Predictions Three and Four

 

Prediction Five: The year will bring a new wave of turmoil, acquisition and market consolidation in certain supply chain and enterprise technology areas.

The year 2010 brought a wave of consolidation and acquisition in the supply chain technology area and we predicted that this trend would continue in 2011. Although there was some activity in 2011, it was not a new wave, as we predicted.

We anticipated consolidation acquisition and consolidation fueled by needs to tap growth potential in emerging markets, adjust strategic focus, fill-in solution areas or take advantage of opportunities.  In essence it was a somewhat quiet year with the exception of perhaps the procurement, sourcing and 3PL areas  Worth noting was:

Sourcing, Supply and Contract Management

Emptoris acquired both telecommunications expense management vendor Rivermine, and later, provider of supplier lifecycle management support vendor Xcitec.

B2B E-Commerce and Supplier Networks

GXS acquired supplier information and community management provider Rollstream

ERP

Oracle acquired information search and intelligence provider Endeca.

3PL

Transplace acquisitions of both Celtic International and SCO Logistics.

There were no major supply chain related acquisition plays concerning major players (IBM, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP) in 2011, and no major acquisition announcements concerning SAP itself. It was perhaps a year of digesting previous acquisitions of 2010 and a keen concentration on mining business from existing applications.

Manufacturers and retailers continued to have heartburn regarding annual maintenance fee burdens  placed on them by the major ERP vendors but that did not impact the revenue streams of the major players in 2011. Make no mistake, the heartburn issue of high recurring maintenance fees for enterprise software will remain an issue among both IT and supply chain functional teams for some time to come, and will lead to different alternatives in the market.

One rather big surprise in the services area was the announced acquisition by PwC of supply chain benchmarking firm PRTM.  We note surprise since the announcement seemed to be rather low-key and even missed our keen eye. The long-terms implications of this acquisition on benchmarking services are somewhat unclear.

 

Prediction Six: Cloud computing options directed at supply chain business process enhancement will explode in popularity and adoption.

We believed that the adoption wave of cloud computing alternatives would likely accelerate in 2011 and the largest benefactors would be small and medium sized businesses. The momentum and reality of adoption continued in 2011, however is was not as originally hyped by vendors. Buying trends were motivated by larger companies that needed to either springboard overall IT adoption or required specific tactical fixes to supply chain problem areas such as procurement spend or broader supplier integration, visibility and collaboration.

Adoption favored larger vs. smaller or mid-range companies because on the whole, price points remain at higher enterprise software levels. Smaller organizations still remain interested because their larger key customers require more electronic integration. More importantly, in our view, the mid-market continues to experience confusion as to what processes lend themselves to cloud computing alternatives. As Jim Cantrell of Hubspan noted to us in a recent briefing: “not all clouds are created equal.” Having a comfort level with software vendors hosting supply chain mission critical applications on a multi-tenant cloud, and persistent concerns regarding data security remain barriers to further adoption.

A significant announcement in this area in 2011 was the market launch of Kenandy, a new vendor conceived from the stewardship of salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff, Perkins Caulfield & Byers partner and former Oracle executive, Ray Lane, and former Ask Computer founder Sandra Kurtzig.  Kanandy presents itself as a social based manufacturing management cloud-based application that embraces a new paradigm of networked manufacturers, suppliers and partners. Also announced was salesforce.com financial investment in privately held ERP provider Infor, with the specific purpose in jointly developing a global marketing and order management system that will reside on the Force.com platform. The goal here is to make cloud computing more attractive for smaller companies.

We also predicted mixed buying signals relative to options for deploying private vs. public clouds.  Private clouds, where sufficient controls and security measures are monitored, continued to be favored by larger companies.

Prediction Seven: Wider scale leverage and adoption of in-memory computing, coupled with broader application of information discovery platforms could be game changing influences on supply chain wide business analytics.

When we framed this prediction, there were two important technology developments that had the potential to have significant impact on predictive analytical capabilities in 2011.  The first was incorporation of integrated in-memory technology among software and hardware appliances. The second was the wider adoption of Google-like information discovery tools that can mine hidden data, especially unstructured data and information.  If technology providers were agile enough in 2011 to incorporate these technologies not as tool sets, but rather incorporated into turnkey supply chain planning and analysis application appliances, we could have seen some dramatic uptake in customer interest levels in the second half of the year.

More importantly, converging forces of a more rapid clock speed of business, along with senior management imperatives for quicker, more-timely decision making have been motivating companies to re-look at sequential supply chain planning and execution in favor of merged planning and execution, and augmenting planning with more predictive analytical tools to support predictive vs. more reactive decision-making.

The reality was that many vendors got ensnarled in hyped product development initiatives that were too broad and multi process focused.  The biggest player with the highest game-changing impact in this space was SAP and its HANA development efforts. SAP’s efforts in 2011 became too broad and ran into the reality of scope and impact to existing application landscapes. SAP’s supply chain related applications therefore received little benefit in 2011.  Information discovery vendor Endeca lost its dedicated focus to manufacturing and supply chain process needs earlier in the year, and was recently acquired by Oracle.

The closest vendors to supply chain predictive analytics are JDA Software, Agistix and Kinaxis, with the latter having more of a focus on response management and a new initiative of supply chain control tower applied to overall supply chain planning and key decision processes. Progress Software is another vendor attacking predictive analytics and supply chain control tower from the business process management platform perspective, with an initial offering in supply chain execution control.

The bottom-line is that while game-changing in potential, predictive analytics capabilities will need more market education and more concentrated supply chain focus. Stay tuned for our 2012 predictions for more in this area.

This concludes our Part Three scorecard update of our Supply Chain Matters 2011 Predictions for Global Supply Chains.  In our Part Four update, we will revisit or other predictions.

Bob Ferrari

©2011, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC and Supply Chain Matters, all rights reserved.