JDA Software Group, Inc. held its annual user conference in Nashville last week. The event was a big one, with well over 2,000 attendees, over 50 sponsors, 100 customer presentations, roundtables, and discussions, and a concert at the Grand Ole Opry featuring Darius Rucker. The customer case studies spanned multiple industries, solutions, and geographies, and could interest executives from nearly every type of business imaginable. The major theme for the event was “Get Seamless,” with a look toward how a seamless supply chain is necessary for a seamless customer experience.
On day 1, JDA Chairman and CEO Bal Dail addressed the audience with his vision and strategy for JDA and its customers. Dail broke the vision and strategy down into three major components: the big pivot, delivering a seamless supply chain, and JDA strategic imperatives.
The Big Pivot
Technology is changing customer expectations and experiences. Based on new and emerging technology, disruption is the new norm. Technology is fundamentally changing the way that people interact with the world, from personal interactions to brand interactions. As a result, companies need to re-evaluate and re-think their supply chain. One of the biggest ways that technology is a disruptive force lies in the fact that we live in a world of micro-segmentation. Consumers want a personalized and seamless experience with brands. And while this is true of the in-store and even e-commerce experience, it does not exactly translate over to the supply chain. From a supply chain standpoint, however, a “seamless” experience can be had by ensuring that products can be fulfilled through any given channel that aligns with the customer’s expectations.
The main vision is delivering a seamless supply chain. Dail pointed out three “C’s” that enable a seamless supply chain – Customer Centricity, Next Generation Collaboration, and the Convergence of Physical and Digital Supply Chains. Each of these plays a major role in developing a robust supply chain with improved visibility and efficiency. Within this vision, Dail also highlighted three drivers that will guide the vision of a seamless supply chain. The first is profitable customer commerce. With the role of the store changing to be part store and part warehouse, there is a significant supply chain impact. Retailers are being challenged to design a supply chain to meet customer demand. They are also connecting downstream suppliers upstream to the manufacturers. This is all about reducing costs within the supply chain and becoming more efficient.
The second driver is adaptable manufacturing. Adaptable manufacturing is helping to build a responsive and agile supply chain. Visibility is a key component for building a responsive supply chain. Dail also pointed out that JDA is aligning all functions of the business as part of a larger S&OP process. Optimizing inventory and raw materials is another key component to build a seamless supply chain.
The third driver is intelligent fulfillment. Intelligent fulfillment provides visibility into the entire supply chain network, as enhancements have been made to tie planning and execution together. It also allows companies to position inventory to replenish and fulfill profitably, mainly due to the ability to source goods from the best location, whether that is a store, warehouse, distribution center, or direct from the supplier.
JDA Strategic Initiatives
Dail outlined a series of strategic initiatives that JDA has put in place to be able to deliver on their vision of a seamless supply chain. The first is to deliver real customer results. JDA has pledged to continue to improve and build out better customer service experiences. Additionally, Dail highlighted a strategy to improve customer engagement to get a better sense of how customers are using products, how they are performing, and using a feedback loop as part of the product innovation and improvement strategy. The second initiative is to make JDA a great place to work. Just like a company needs to have engaged customers, it needs to have an engaged workforce. JDA has placed a big emphasis on hiring the right people, and most importantly, retaining their employees.
The third strategic initiative is to be profitably driven. The main questions here are how can they better service customers and how can they enhance the customer experience? This goes along with the first initiative of delivering real results. But it goes a step further in guiding customers to be more profitable by getting everything out of their products as possible. The fourth initiative is to be a leader in their space. This requires improving products to meet the changing nature of today’s supply chain.
How to Get There?
So with the strategic initiatives laid out, the question remains, how do they get there? The first part is to invest in research and development. This includes new products and product enhancements based on market demand. JDA also hired a Chief Customer Officer, a role that is responsible for customer centric initiatives. But I think one of the most important things JDA has done is the release of JDA Stratus.
JDA Cloud Stratus is an out of the box cloud solution geared towards the mid-market. While their premium cloud solutions allow for configurability and additional workflows, Stratus has no customizations. It is basically a cloud offering at a lower cost entry point for customers who do not need all the additional services. As an example, the TMS Stratus offering is geared towards companies with a significantly lower freight spend but still need a fully functional TMS. The capabilities within the Stratus offering are still the same; it is not a stripped down version of TMS, just a non-configurable or customizable TMS application.
JDA and their customers all spoke to a simple theme: Get Seamless. This theme is about using a seamless supply chain to deliver a seamless customer experience in an omni-channel world. Bal Dail outlined the major disruptors that are causing the industry to pivot and change course. Namely, technology is making disruption the new norm. He outlined JDA’s vision of a seamless supply chain by improving visibility, collaboration, and customer centricity. Dail also outlined the strategic initiatives that will drive a seamless supply chain, including delivering real customer results, improving employee engagement, making customers more profitably driven, and being a leader in their space. Investment in research and development and the roll-out of a new cloud platform have been some of the initiatives in place to make the strategy a reality.