This Week in Logistics News (April 1-5, 2013)

Welcome to April. One quarter down, three to go in 2013. It was a relatively quiet week for news, so let’s get to the items that caught my attention.

JDA Software announced the release of JDA eight that brings together “more than 30 different products on a single platform, unifying supply chain planning, optimization and business analytics for deployment in the cloud.” Here are some excerpts from the press release:

JDA eight offers a comprehensive framework to address challenges impacting key business processes across the extended supply chain including forecasting and planning, procurement planning, promotion, transportation management, production planning and scheduling, network and inventory optimization, and supplier collaboration.

 

“JDA eight establishes a new standard for advanced planning and optimization software,” said Hamish Brewer, CEO, JDA Software. “Historically, manufacturers and retailers have only seen end-to-end solutions in traditional transaction processing systems from the ERP vendors. The launch of JDA eight introduces a completely new paradigm to the market, complementing those ERP platforms and enabling businesses to orchestrate collaborative planning and optimization processes across the enterprise.”

I have not seen a demo of the solution, so my comments below are solely based on what’s in the press release.

  • Of the traditional supply chain software vendors — i.e., those that started out selling on-premise solutions — JDA is arguably the most aggressive in moving its platform to the cloud. Overall, I believe this is a smart move because it’s important to give companies a choice of IT deployment and payment options, and a growing number of companies today are choosing the cloud route. However, it’s important to note that in JDA’s case, cloud deployment generally implies a hosted solution, not a multi-tenant or network-based solution (see “JDA Software Focuses on Time to Value” for related commentary). Does JDA’s strategy and future roadmap include a move to network-based solutions too?
  • “In-line analytics” and “in-memory processing” are key features of the platform. These capabilities are becoming “must have” in supply chain software applications as the volume of supply chain data companies must analyze continues to grow and the timeframes for making smart, informed decisions continues to shrink.
  • “The intuitive user interface [emphasis mine] offers a consistent look and feel, reducing training time and alleviating operational silos” — this underscores a trend I’ve discussed before, i.e., how supply chain software vendors are focusing on improving user interfaces, which is becoming a competitive differentiator.

In other technology news, Roadnet Technologies announced the release of MobileCast On Track®, “a real-time management and tracking tool that enables organizations to more effectively track and manage mobile employees, sales representatives and merchandisers.” According to the press release:

MobileCast On Track includes a number of reports, such as a Resource Stop List, which provides a comprehensive overview of the workday for an organization’s mobile workforce. The report reveals each of the stops completed, including arrival, departure and total stop times, which can be used to analyze and improve behaviors and interactions with the customer. The “Manage by Exception” feature provides visibility to those mobile employees who are off-schedule. Managers of mobile employees have the ability to pinpoint the location of employees instantaneously.

 

MobileCast On Track is available for use on GPS-enabled mobile devices and smartphones such as Google Android™, Apple iOS, Windows and Java enabled phones.

This is mobile resource management + workforce management + routing and scheduling, which equals a big market opportunity. A few years ago at an ARC conference, representatives from Kraft talked about their deployment of a similar solution and the benefits the company achieved, as well as the challenges involved in getting your mobile workforce to adopt this type of solution (for related commentary, see here and here).

On the 3PL front, CEVA reported disappointing financial results for 2012. While the company’s revenues increased 4.8 percent compared to 2011, its adjusted EBITDA was down 21.8 percent. “These are difficult times for everyone in the global logistics industry and CEVA has not been immune to those pressures,” said CEVA CEO Marvin O. Schlanger. “While our revenue line has been resilient, we have seen a marked deterioration in EBITDA in both our FM [Freight Management] and CL [Contract Logistics] businesses. This simply isn’t good enough and we have taken action to reverse this decline in profitability. We will continue to take actions necessary to establish satisfactory levels of profitability.” CEVA also announced details of a financial recapitalization plan “that will reduce substantially CEVA’s overall debt and interest costs, as well as increase liquidity and strengthen its capital structure.”

Finally, after Google and Walmart announced new initiatives around same-day delivery and in-store delivery lockers last week, Amazon.com upped the ante by unveiling a new service called Amazon One Step Ahead that delivers goods to customers before they even order them. Is this taking things too far? Read the posting for more details and the punchline at the end.

Have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Mountain Sound” by Of Monsters and Men

(Note: JDA Software is a Logistics Viewpoints sponsor)

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