Today is the final day of Manhattan Associates’ 2015 annual user conference. The conference has about 1,100 attendees and offers a substantially broader selection of sessions than the first Manhattan conference I attended in 2007. This year’s conference theme is “Building The Commerce-Ready Enterprise.” When I hear “commerce-ready” I envision a concept broader than the traditional supply chain function. In 2013, Manhattan transitioned from a self-described supply chain optimization provider to a supply chain commerce solutions provider. I view this year’s conference theme as a reflection of this conceptual expansion and I believe that it also reflects the evolution of Manhattan’s solutions footprint.
WMS is still the largest recipient of research and development investment. However, the company has also made notable investments in downstream functionality. Manhattan Associates launched its Store Inventory and Store Fulfillment solutions in 2013. These solutions have been well received by the market, as the total number of site deployments rivals that of its WMS solutions (admittedly an unfair comparison, but it still highlights the pace of adoption). Subsequently in 2014, Manhattan extended its order management presence with the acquisition of GlobalBay, a provider of mobile point-of-sale and clienteling solutions. This acquisition also expanded Manhattan’s presence into customer-facing technology.
The GlobalBay Solution
The GlobalBay solution set includes three mobile applications – Tablet Retailing, Clienteling, and Mobile-POS. The tablet retailing application provides an electronic portal to catalog “type” material that can be displayed on a mobile device or an in-store kiosk. Clienteling allows in-store associates to leverage mobile hardware such as tablets to guide shoppers through product search, availability, and inventory reservation and sale functionality. The application uses a secure process for capturing and transmitting credit card information, signatures, and receipts. Finally, the mobile-POS solution can run on a tablet or iPod, and offers functionality comparable to traditional POS transaction processing. The GlobalBay functionality provides Manhattan Associates with technology that is representative of a newer breed of applications that today’s retailers are using to support omni-channel initiatives.
Distribution Management Mobile (DM Mobile) is the most prominent enhancement within the WMS realm for 2015. DM Mobile is an application separate from WMS that brings together information and task management capabilities from WMS and Labor Management. The solution is designed to run on a tablet and focused on the needs of warehouse managers – providing mobile access to activity status, work monitoring, and the ability to act on activities. The application provides a graphical user interface with a configurable dashboard view, a work monitoring view, and task management. The user can click on a task, view the list of employees working on that task, and access the employee performance for evaluation.
WMS (WMOS) version 2015 also included a number of tactical enhancements. These include e-commerce driven enhancements, improvements to streamline MHE and WCS integration, and new rules configuration to improve system flexibility. More specifically, functionality was added to facilitate on-time parcel shipping guarantees through the creation of new check points in the fulfillment process, enabling options such as auto-divert to overnight shipping for delayed orders. Also added was the ability to assign credit for pick-to-light activities to the appropriate workers, in the same manner as if the tasks were captured by RF. System flexibility was also improved by providing SQL expression support, allowing users to more easily code some desired changes to the system. Finally, usability enhancements were added to yard management in the form of a graphical yard view and multi-capacity yard slots.
Overall, Manhattan Associates has expanded its presence further downsteam to include additional retail and client facing functionality, while at the same time retaining its focus on the company’s foundational applications. I believe this balanced approach is a reflection of Manhattan’s persistent focus on its users’ requirements.