One of our recent surveys on business applications shows that more than 60% of business and business technology (BT) decision-makers consider consolidating, rationalizing, and transforming their business applications a high or critical priority — business applications drive three of the top four software initiative priorities (see the figure below). If we include closely related analytics, business intelligence (BI), and decision support tools, we cover all four top priorities.
At the same time, business and BT execs responsible for a variety of different business and IT domains across multiple industries typically explain that customer experience has moved to center stage; digital value has increasing importance in an information society and an information economy; and better use of things like real estate, intellectual property, available inventory, skilled personnel, and digital assets has become mandatory to manage costs and create new revenue streams. Managing and reducing costs in a continuously changing business and IT environment remains a key driver for functional departments in many firms.
New Mountain Capital, the owner of Red Prairie, the demand sensing and supply chain execution software vendor, announced last week that it would fully acquire supply chain planning vendor JDA. The merger will result in a supply-chain planning and execution solution provider with more than $1 billion in revenue with 87 of the world’s top 100 consumer goods manufacturers and 82 of the world’s top 100 retailers running either Red Prairie or JDA applications.
For some time Red Prairie has been buying assets to extend supply chain into the store, a strategy it calls “commerce in motion.” The idea is to extend beyond mere inventory visibility to better predict where inventory should be held. Red Prairie’s demand sensing and eCommerce solutions as well as its warehouse management and store execution capabilities can complement JDA’s collaborative planning to provide a platform for collaborative new product introduction and promotion investments.
This looks like an extension of the idea that applications and processes will become interenterprise or value-chain centered rather than enterprise focused and will ultimately move to the cloud to capitalize on collaboration opportunities with a whole network of value chain partners. JDA 8.0 is already delivered (together with multichannel assortment planning) as a cloud solution.
It seems to me the opportunity to think beyond "four walls" and plan demand, in the case of retailers all the way back up to sourcing, or in the case of manufacturers to plan and execute down to the shelf or the fulfilment of e-commerce orders, offers a really intriguing opportunity to deliver more effectively on private-label and branded merchandise assortments to demanding consumers browsing and buying across channels.
Some of my readers know that I worked in my career before Forrester in product management and business development at MSA, SSA, and Mapics, all now part of Infor. When people ask if I “follow Infor,” I’m inclined to reply that Infor follows me. I attended an “Infor on the road” event last week to listen to the briefing from CEO Charles Phillips and President Duncan Angove. I learned that Infor’s strategy for disrupting the SAP Oracle duopoly depends on choices that Infor has made about:
1) Architecture: Infor’s clients have a wide choice of application portfolio elements and choices about when to upgrade each element thanks to its loose coupling strategy and its maturing of the ION platform that I described here:
This is attractive to firms that can no longer force all their functions and divisions to upgrade simultaneously to a lowest common denominator set of functionality.
Message-based interoperability also enables Infor’s apps to Tweet to interested users about changes in status of accounts, documents, people, or objects as previously described by my colleague China Martens here: