Part II of this blog series allowed members of the two global trade management (GTM) software providers, TradeBeam and Precision Software, to voice their outlooks on the market (in light of the recent global trade decline). But at the end of the post I introduced the question of the possible threat to GTM providers coming from the large enterprise resource planning (ERP) providers.
Given that SAP, Infor and Oracle now have their own GTM offerings, and QAD has recently acquired Precision Software, what can GTM pure-players do against becoming a commoditized offering? In other words, what is it that the likes of Trade Beam, JP Morgan Chase Vastera, GT Nexus, Kewill, or Management Dynamics (and Precision Software if we look at its autonomous operations within QAD) do much better than ERP guys, so that ERP guys will not eat everyone’s lunch? Is it still about some functional features, or also about the service side (consulting and know-how)? Read the rest of this entry »
A week before this past Thanksgiving holiday (US), I was invited by a long-term analyst relationship contact at SAP to listen to (via multimedia streaming) a panel discussion on a late Friday afternoon. The expert panel explored reasons for companies to maintain IT investment even (if not especially) during difficult economic times.
Bruce Richardson, the Chief Research Officer of AMR Research, moderated the event. The star-studded and well-rounded panel also included:
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) article by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson entitled “Investing in the IT That Makes a Competitive Difference” was the main supplement and starting point of the discussion. In a nutshell, the panel logically (and not surprisingly) argued that enterprises should use IT solutions to innovate and create differentiation, especially during a difficult economy.
Moreover, the aforementioned SAP contact privately solicited my opinion on the extent to which these esteemed academics understand our industry. According to the “you asked for it” motto, here are my thoughts (albeit parlayed into a blog post to be shared with our readers too). Read the rest of this entry »
The Green Philosophy
There has been so much hype about “green” that many organizations are adopting it, but what is “green”, really? We hear and see it everywhere—in the food we eat (green beans), during our morning routine (green contact lenses), on our way to work (green traffic lights), in our down time (green tea), and during the course of our work day (green initiatives). Green initiatives can be seen in every industry and every sector: from marketing to engineering, from infrastructure to architecture, from supply chain to technology, and more. Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of this blog series described the conundrum that commodity-based manufacturers encounter when it comes to determining the best price, production mix, and volumes. It also introduced SignalDemand, Inc., which applies math and science to the problem of price and margin optimization software for large-scale manufacturers.
SignalDemand stands alone as the only provider of price management and optimization software that takes into account the key supply and production constraints impacting manufacturers. In other words, its application is using pricing as a demand and supply matching mechanism for manufacturers of consumer goods.
Namely, on the supply (upstream) side, commodity-focused hedge funds have long leveraged supply optimization software, while on the demand (downstream) side, wholesale distributors and retailers have for some time leveraged demand management and optimization software. Conversely, manufacturers have for too long been left in the middle shooting in the dark when it comes to concurrent pricing and demand management. Read the rest of this entry »
For companies, embarking upon environmentally friendly activities goes beyond merely complying with laws and regulations; it’s about organizations and their employees’ voluntary and moral engagements. But integrating these motivations into strategies and overall daily activities is often complicated, since it demands translating generally intangible motivations into concrete actions and measurable results. Read the rest of this entry »
Sadly, it is not difficult for so many of us to concede that, except for maybe the historic elections in the US and the successful Olympic Games in Beijing, 2008 was a terrible and somber year. It felt long-drawn-out, and many of us will have trouble sinking it easily into oblivion.
Without even talking about our retirement funds and investments being slashed by about 40 percent (as part of a potentially more far-reaching financial crisis) or about 2.6 million jobs lost in the US only, just look at mushrooming late 2008 layoffs news at even the biggest and typically impervious enterprise applications vendors. For example, both Bruce Richardson of AMR Research and Frank Scavo of Enterprise Systems Spectator have reported in their respective December 2008 blog posts about Infor’s deliberate preparations for a downturn.
Along similar lines (although about some vendors there have been rumors rather than a public acknowledgement by the vendor) were the recent cost-cutting and restructuring moves by Sage, Consona, Lawson Software, Oracle, and Epicor Software. The market leader SAP has not yet been plagued by major layoffs per se, although there have been rumors/reports about the recently enacted stringent internal corporate-wide cost-cutting policies, such as restricted traveling, training, events, and so on.
I am indeed aware of the fact that there was no traditional SAP Influencer/Analyst Summit this past fall/winter, after several years of being a major winter event solely for industry analysts and media. Thus, trying to think positively, I am happy to report about coming across at least one vendor with upbeat news and upright posture in these dreary days.
In fact, how often have we heard about a mid-market enterprise resource planning (ERP) provider’s quarterly global results in late 2008 revealing a 37 percent increase in revenue and sales (with 30 percent growth in North America), with the company claiming many significant new orders worth over US$ 1 million? Read the rest of this entry »
In the news, and in a few publications, the Detroit (US) car makers have been blamed for “bad management.” I would like to clarify that definition and ask your opinion. But first, my thoughts… Read the rest of this entry »
Part II of this blog series expanded on some of TEC’s earlier articles about companies’ need for better links between the plant floor and the enterprise offices. It also pointed out the difficulties in achieving this noble idea, and gave examples of some vendors with success in providing integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution system (MES) solutions.
If you know nothing about a company, you should be able to figure out the bare essentials by visiting its About Us page, right?
Turns out this is only true sometimes.
Neat, huh? One click and sixteen words after visiting the site, you know, in a nutshell, what they do. Read another fifty or so words and you’ll find out that content is displayed and ranked based on votes from users. Go further and you’ll find out how that works. The information is there, and it’s not hard to find.
Enterprise software vendors, by contrast, don’t always provide such clear information so concisely. To show you what I mean, I looked at the About Us pages of the ten vendors listed in The New and the Noteworthy: 2008 Vendor Wrap-up, published late last year on this blog.
Part I of this blog series analyzed the appropriateness of global sourcing and spend management applications for helping companies improve their cash flows and reduce working capital. It also introduced the question what might happen to global trade management (GTM) applications down the track.
Indeed, what about this credit crunch and recession, and how will that affect the global trade, imports from China, Letters of credit (L/Cs), etc.? With the current sad state of the banking world, many think that discussion about anything other than survival falls on deaf ears at the moment. We are in a bad state, and there is no trust in the system.
The initial sentiment is that corporations are not going to be investing in GTM and sourcing solutions in droves any time soon, other than to make sure they have liquidity to survive. Certainly, the exports/imports will be slower for a while, but does it necessarily follow that people do not need any help from GTM applications? In other words, are there any good GTM features that might even help folks be more effective in these trying times? Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of this blog series introduced the need for knowledge management (KM) software applications as part of a more comprehensive and strategic service management (SSM) suite. One such broad SSM suite has been offered by Servigistics.
Servigistics’ Service Knowledge Management (SKM) solution, the newest module within Servigistics SSM, is designed to meet the requirements of the technical service organizations that manage complex problem resolution. The crucial issue is that technicians, dealers, agents, partners, and customers need in-depth knowledge to solve complex problems.
Diagnosing issues in these complex environments (e.g., motor vehicles, aerospace & defense [A&D], medical equipment, appliances/white goods, high tech) requires interaction and a comprehensive understanding of the essential diagnostic variables. As a good example, medical doctors have been provided with a framework that allows them to be masters of the diagnostic method because of their years of diagnostic training. As a trained diagnostician, the doctor is able to capture the essential diagnostic information from the patient and match it against prior treatment experiences. Read the rest of this entry »
Yes, we know everyone had a great New Years party. We saw the ball drop from Big Apple, watched celebrations all over the globe, and optimistically made the same old New Year resolutions again. But what about the resolution for your industry and the global economy in general? What does the dawn of 2009 have for your industry? Let’s evaluate some of the events which will mold the fortune of many organizations in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »
Every company and almost every individual holds fixed assets. Over time, these assets change in value. For example, real estate tends to increase in value, while vehicle values decrease. Read the rest of this entry »
Project portfolio management (PPM) is a process to obtain project management information of all resources, time, budget, and labor skills in order to align, manage, and review these elements–and to ensure deliverables are being met in terms of project milestones, in accordance with the work breakdown schedule.
In a time of economic and business uncertainty, PPM may be the prescription to obtain successful IT project management results. However, IT departments in many organizations are viewed by some in senior management circles as a huge money pit, a kind of necessary evil that generates little in terms of ongoing business development or growth.
In TEC’s previous articles and blog posts about pricing management and optimization vendors like Zilliant, Vendavo, DemandTec, Servigistics or Revionics, the main focus was on finished goods (including spare parts). Whether these final products are sold at retail shelves to consumers or dealt directly between trading partners, their proper pricing is meant to create demand and profitability for the seller. In other words, the idea is to harness science to understand products’ baseline demand, price sensitivity, and the impact of pricing actions based on demand sensing insights.
Recently, however, I had a chance to meet with an interesting pricing optimization startup vendor whose aim is to help upstream manufacturers and suppliers understand how to better translate commodity (e.g., corn, soy, oil, gas, electricity, metals, polypropylene) prices into viable final product mixes. For example, how can a meat packer make better downstream supply chain decisions on its choice of cuts (e.g., a beef carcass as a source material can yield more than one thousand various meat cuts as finished products) and ensure that they are priced best on the retail shelf at the end of a highly perishable supply chain? Read the rest of this entry »