HighJump’s user conference – Elevate – was last week in Orlando. I heard what I expect to hear at this conference, happy Warehouse Advantage customers who are unusually effusive about their implementation support and ongoing maintenance. And Advantage customers continue to say that one of the primary reasons they selected the solution was its unparalleled flexibility. Warehouse Advantage is their top tier warehouse management system (WMS).
HighJump offers more than WMS. The company offers transportation management, supplier management, ecommerce front ends, direct store delivery, and other solutions as well. But I focused on user presentations featuring WMS, their leading product category.
But I heard something new from HighJump at this conference as well; cutting edge product development. Their CEO, Mike Cornell, quoted the business executive Jack Welch, “You’ve got to eat while you dream. You’ve got to deliver on short-range commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it.”
HighJump CEO Mike Cornell Speaks at Elevate
Traditionally, HighJump was better at the first. The company continued to enhance their current products, and their customers were happy, but they were not known for tackling next generation product development. But the company is at a point where they can stretch; HighJump is doing well financially and they have the key technological building blocks in place.
They are developing a product called Unified Commerce Hub. Their executives were careful not to use the phrase distributed order management (DOM) in describing the product. But in an invitation only session, they described the product in detail; this product is clearly a DOM.
The place where increasing complexity is most apparent in today’s supply chains is the rise of omni-channel fulfillment, the attempt to reach customers across all channels in a uniform manner. This is most obvious in the retail sector, where the “brick and mortar” retailers have been losing market share steadily to ecommerce players. The retailers are attempting to turn their stores into resources by making them places where inventory can be shipped to customers, goods may be picked up, or returns made. But it is not just the retail sector facing these kinds of pressures, consumer goods companies and business-to-business companies are also facing increasing channel and customer complexity.
But engaging in omni-channel efficiently and profitably requires a distributed order management solution. This application that has been difficult to implement and extremely costly. A DOM must capture inventory statuses across the different inventory locations; allocate inventory to different customers, products, and channels based on a wide variety of rules; and then track the status of orders across their lifecycle. The biggest problem appears to be that many DOMs don’t have sufficient flexibility and configurability to deal with the plethora of fulfillment flow paths to the customer.
Besides describing some functionality that goes beyond what other DOM suppliers are providing, and what is an intelligent and scalable architecture for this product, what excites me about HighJump is that they will leverage their workflow modeling engine to provide the flexibility needed for a product that needs to deal with a huge range of process flow paths.
The company was careful not to say when this product would be generally available, but based on their description of the pieces already built, I’d guess by the end of the year.
And of course, the proof is in the pudding. They need to build it out, thoroughly test it, and get a couple of customers up who can serve as references. But my instinct is this could be a huge product for HighJump.