A few weeks ago, we gave TEC Newsletter subscribers a sneak preview of a report analyzing trends in demand for business intelligence (BI) software. The report was based on peer data collected from over 17,000 BI software comparisons performed using the TEC Advisor online software selection application.We asked everyone who downloaded the report to answer a few quick questions about the things that were most important to them when considering a BI system purchase. And now that the preliminary survey results are in, it’s obvious that BI is still very much a hot topic, and there are some clear trends among buyers. Here are a few of the highlights. Read the rest of this entry »
Recently, we launched a comprehensive buyer’s guide to BI solutions. TEC’s buyer’s guides combine analyst insight into various types of enterprise software with state-of-the-market reporting, vendor case studies, solution overviews, and technology directories of hundreds of software products. Read the rest of this entry »
My recent article entitled “Workforce Scheduling & Optimization: The Missing Link on the Shop Floor?” analyzed the importance of manufacturing workforce scheduling & optimization solutions and stated that many manufacturing enterprises still use rudimentary tools and practices (if that) to manage their labor. The article stated that most manufacturing organizations do not yet understand the strategic value that workforce scheduling could provide to them.
Often, manufacturing companies (complacently or ignorantly) think that the existing practices and tools that they have in place for labor scheduling are “good enough” or that workforce scheduling for their environment is so unique and complex that it cannot be properly automated. Until recently, a few percentiles of improvement in labor utilization or productivity hasn’t been much of an incentive for manufacturing executives to invest in sophisticated workforce management (WFM) systems. Labor has been customarily viewed as a constraint (or even a necessary evil) to the successful movement of goods through the supply chain.
What a difference in attitude a protracted economic downturn can make. Because labor represents a large percentage of any organization’s controllable costs, many manufacturing companies have lately realized that the benefits of implementing automated workforce scheduling can be significant.
You have a consultant booked. The booking is for the installation of and training on a new system, or perhaps an upgrade or augmentation of an existing system. There are several techniques that will enable you to reap maximum return on this investment, and they start long before you first clap eyes on your consultant. Read the rest of this entry »
I often wonder how well-known is the fact that the Newcastle upon Tyne (UK)-based Sage Group, Plc (LSE: SGE) is a leading global provider of business management software and services to over 6.3 million small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) worldwide. After over 25 years in existence and with 13,400 employees worldwide, Sage reported US$2.24 billion in revenue in 2010, and the vendor touts its 28,000 business partners and 40,000 accountants’ club members.
For its part, the Sage North America subsidiary (formerly also known as Best Software in the early 2000s) has 4,000 employees and supports more than 3.2 million customers in the United States (US) and Canada (with customers in every state and province) with enterprise applications and services that cover accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), payment processing, human resources (HR) and payroll. In addition to providing horizontal products, Sage North America caters to the specialized needs of the healthcare, nonprofit, manufacturing, and construction & real estate industries.
Part 1 of this blog series established that the product lifecycle management (PLM) software market for process industries (food & beverage, life sciences, chemicals, paints, consumer products, etc.) has not been well-defined as compared to its counterparts in the discrete manufacturing and fashion (apparel) industry segments. Indeed, the process PLM solution market is currently a mosaic of specialized vendors with solutions that cater to only a part of the entire process PLM flow.
My post then analyzed typical workarounds to solve the puzzle of integrating these silo-based solutions with their focus on structured data, which is insufficient for creating adequate product specifications in this day and age. Part 2 will analyze other typical constraints of these solutions, such as the level of process PLM vendors’ global enterprise support as well as available solution configuration options and ongoing change capabilities.
Many business applications are going mobile. And BI is no exception. Many BI software vendors are launching new versions that support mobile features, while others are launching special BI applications specifically for mobile devices. Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of this blog series analyzed Manhattan Associates’ innovative Supply Chain Process Platform (SCPP)-based applications, such as Supply Chain Intelligence (SCI) and Total Cost to Serve (TCS). The Manhattan SCOPE suite’s modules were also discussed as well as the company’s recent evolution from a mere supply chain execution (SCE) provider.
The article concluded that Distributed Order Management (DOM) is a critical “cerebral” application of the entire suite. A smart order management system takes customer orders and decides which warehouse (or any other viable inventory location) is best suited to fulfill them based on inventory on hand, inventory in transit, and delivery requirements.
From March 21 to 24, 2011, Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) will be at info360 in Washington, D.C. I will be teaming up with a panel of experts to discuss business intelligence (BI) and its role in analyzing unstructured data. Join us on March 23 for the TEC session—What Do I Get Out of BI?: The Role of Business Intelligence in Your Content Strategy.
You can register at the info360 Web site. For those of you who can’t be there in person, you can still participate by leaving a comment here: Do you have any specific questions for our experts?
I have the honor of presenting our session panelists: Read the rest of this entry »
These days when all the excitement seems to be coming from “social anything” and “cloud anything” gadgets, it is refreshing to see some tried-and-true enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors doing very well in their much less exciting manufacturing realms. The two vendors in this instance are IQMS and IFS, and there are many similarities between them (other than the superficial one that their names start with “I” and end with “S”).
Namely, both vendors are focused solely on manufacturing (mostly in discrete manufacturing, but also in mixed-mode discrete and process manufacturing environments), they both leverage Oracle’s database and Microsoft’s client-side technologies, and are currently happy to remain deployed on-premises (perhaps with some managed hosting options). In addition, both vendors tend to offer complete functionality natively and scalable solutions without requiring costly third-party interfaces.
Part 1 of this blog series analyzed typical issues that retailers face in their cutthroat competitive environment and concluded that traditionally available packaged retail enterprise applications are sub-optimal, provide only stovepipe views, and demand constant manual intervention by a highly sophisticated user. This is especially true in the case of handling ever-more difficult products and assortments (e.g., big ticket slow-moving items, sized merchandise, etc.).
The article then introduced Quantum Retail Technology, an up-and-coming company with a budding install base, who has an intriguing mission and value proposition for retailers that have to deal with a slew of tricky retail items. What follows now is my discussion with Chris Allan, Quantum’s chief strategy officer.
It’s been a long time (in this business, anyway) since the very first business intelligence (BI) solutions turned up, enabling big organizations to perform data analysis, generating reports with primitive dashboards for company execs. Since then, the BI space has become agile, operational, self-service, social, and even reactive.
When I started to prepare a BI buyer guide, I had to reconsider why any individual or organization would want to acquire, change, or upgrade a BI solution.
Cost overruns are an all too common phenomenon with information technology (IT) projects. A myriad of causes are to blame: scope creep, improper budgeting, and customization cost underestimating, just to name a few. Then there’s one that I experienced in a previous occupation, let’s call it “One More Week” or “OMW.”
My recent article on Manhattan Associates (NASDAQ: MANH) and RedPrairie Corporation stated that these two vendors continue to duke it out at almost every large-scale selection deal for a warehouse management system (WMS), distribution labor management system (LMS), and/or transportation management system (TMS) solution. But over the last few years they have also pursued somewhat different expansion routes from their traditional supply chain execution (SCE) realms, where they will likely face different competitors.
To that end, RedPrairie has been rounding out its solutions set for retail stores while trying to attract the lower-end of the WMS and TMS markets via on-demand applications. For its part, Manhattan has been rounding out a portfolio of supply chain management (SCM) software solutions dubbed Manhattan SCOPE, which stands for “Supply Chain Optimization, Planning through Execution.” Built on a common Supply Chain Process Platform (SCPP), the SCOPE suite combines the following sub-suites to enable overall supply chain optimization: Planning and Forecasting, Inventory Optimization, Order Lifecycle Management, Transportation Lifecycle Management, and Distribution Management.
The article then went a bit deeper into the guts of the SCPP technical underpinning. But SCPP is not a mere “geekware” toolset, since it also comes with its own applications and solutions. These solutions offer the broad supply chain insight and analytics that are critical to an executive’s ability to proactively manage the holistic supply chain.
The product lifecycle management (PLM) software market for process industries (food & beverage, life sciences, chemicals, paints, consumer products, etc.) is serviced by a plethora of solution providers, but it hasn’t been well-defined as compared to its counterparts in the discrete manufacturing and fashion (apparel) industry segments. Indeed, the Process PLM solution market is a mosaic of specialized vendors, starting with enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors with some process PLM capabilities (i.e., SAP, Oracle, and Infor) and pure-play PLM vendors (i.e., Siemens Industry Automation Division and Dassault Systemes). In addition, there are many toolset-oriented niche vendors and document management system (DMS)-oriented point solutions.