This Week in Logistics News (October 15-19, 2012)

My wife is going away for a long weekend with her mom and sister. But I should be fine. She left me three detailed pages of where I need to be and what I need to do, hour by hour, for the next three days.

So, with no time to waste, here’s this week’s news:

Manhattan Associates reported record total revenue of $95.8 million in Q3 2012. License revenue was $16.2 million, up 12 percent from Q3 2011. The company closed two $1 million-plus deals in the quarter (one with a well-known retailer, the other with a well-known CPG company, both of them existing customers). Here are some highlights from the earnings call:

  • Year-to-date, about 65% of license revenue has come from existing customers and about 35% from new customers.
  • Year-to-date revenue has increased 14% to $281 million. Compared to Q3 2011, total revenue in the Americas grew 13%; EMEA, 5%; and APAC, 14%.
  • The company updated its full year revenue guidance to a range of $370 million to $375 million, which represents 12% to 14% growth over 2011.
  • Planning for 2013, Manhattan expects low double-digit year-over-year growth of about 10% to 12%.

As I’ve noted before, this has been a very positive year for most supply chain and logistics software vendors, and despite the ongoing uncertainty with the global economy, most software vendors are optimistic about the year ahead. The bet is that companies will continue to invest in technology to drive down costs, improve productivity, and enable new processes.

When a 3PL issues a press release, it’s usually about the introduction of a new service or about an acquisition that will expand their solution footprint. This week’s announcement by C.H. Robinson, however, is about a divestiture. The company has sold its payment services business, T-Chek Systems, Inc. to Electronic Funds Source, LLC for $302.5 million in cash. T-Chek had been a subsidiary of C.H. Robinson since 1984. Here is a quote by John P. Wiehoff, chief executive officer of C.H. Robinson, from the press release:

“We are proud of T-Chek’s success and of T-Chek’s employees, who built a very strong business with a long track record of growth. As the payment services industry continues to consolidate and evolve, scale and alignment with the financial services sector are becoming increasingly important. EFS is an excellent organization and we felt, for T-Chek’s long term success, that strategically it was the right time for T-Chek to join forces with EFS.”

In the immortal words of Kenny Rogers, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

There’s been a lot of buzz this year about the rise of online education (see edX, launched by MIT and Harvard earlier this year, with Berkeley and The University of Texas also joining). This trend is now extending to software training programs, as evidenced by JDA’s announcement this week of JDA Minutes, “a cloud-based video training program, from JDA Education Services, that is available 24/7 via pc, tablet, or mobile device.” Here is an excerpt from the press release:

With JDA Minutes, users can expect flexible, timely and efficient learning – all in the cloud. Popular features include:  3-10 minute training videos on useful solution topics, expert presenters, video rating, “suggest a minute,” favorite’s folder, searchable video content, and more. JDA Minutes currently offers channels for JDA® Advanced Store Replenishment, JDA® Advanced Warehouse Replenishment, JDA® Fulfill, JDA® Demand, and JDA® Space & Category Management customers. Additional channels will be added in the future.

Like I said in my posting on Wednesday, when it comes to learning and talent development, we need to think beyond four year universities and traditional education programs. New paths to learning and training are being created every day.

Infor introduced new branding this week, complete with a special website outlining “The New Infor.” What’s noteworthy, in my opinion, is the emphasis the company is putting on “Social” and on “Beauty.” On the latter point, here is an excerpt from the website:

Business applications have traditionally been functional, but not much to look at. The new Infor changes that by making beauty a competence [emphasis mine].

It seems like Infor is taking a page from Apple’s playbook and bringing beauty to the enterprise software market. Steve Banker wrote about Infor’s new user interface back in April and he was impressed by it. The bottom line, as Steve pointed out, is that software usability is becoming a competitive differentiator, especially in market segments where there’s minimal difference in functionality between vendors.

And that’s a wrap. Now where did I put that list?

Song of the Week: “In the Meantime” by Spacehog.

(Note: CH Robinson, Infor, JDA Software, and Manhattan Associates are ARC clients and/or Logistics Viewpoints sponsors).