Tag Archives: Cloud

Demandware making the cloud rain!

Earlier this month I was in sunny Florida at the Demandware XChange conference. A gathering of some of the biggest retail brand names – the likes of Cole Haan, Carter’s, vineyard vines, Party City to name a few, also spent time with me in Florida. With over 1400 attendees representing 600 customers, the event attracted a wide swath of brands and retailers.

The biggest message from the event was the dominance mobile has taken on in the retail world. This is something that has long been resonating in the space. When it comes to connecting with the consumer, the mobile phone is firmly entrenched as the de facto touch point. No surprise since many would rather lose their wallet rather than their iPhone. Therefore it is imperative for retailers to focus on the phone to be central to their consumer facing focus. The main takeaways from the event:

  • Mobile is the thread that ties in commerce: Mobile phones are always with us – they are the one constant within the commerce ecosystem. This is specific to mobile phones, as tablets are not regarded as “mobile” but more along the same lines as computers. Retailers need to focus on a mobile first strategy. Retailers need to keep in mind that mobile is not simply about reaching conversions via that form factor – rather that mobile plays a role with regards to influencing conversions regardless of where they take place. Conversations between the brand and consumers via mobile can drive conversions – regardless if they are happening on that phone or via a physical store and even through a non-mobile web site.
  • Don’t ignore important signals your customers are throwing off: There was a time when abandoned shopping carts were viewed with disdain. While retailers still want to see the highest percentages of shopping carts converted, there is some interesting information to be gathered from what products your consumers place in their shopping carts and why they don’t convert. Savvy retailers are looking at these actions by consumers and learning from them. There is also an opportunity to learn from you consumer’s social actions. Tying in buying functions with social sites such as Pinterest, allows retailers to take advantage of how their consumers’ are behaving and interacting. The lesson – find places where your consumer is sharing insights, ideas and potential demands and figure out how to take advantage of this data.
  • Don’t forget the store labor! A major theme we have seen with retail is the growing importance of labor within the commerce ecosystem. Brands such as Party City are leaning on in store technologies to empower their store associates. Not only for more frictionless interactions between store associate and consumer, but also how to better handle inventory. The labor also needs to lean on the mobile access to information and data. Retailers such as Party City lean on seasonal pop up stores to drive sales around such events such as Halloween. The need for a mobile and flexible in store solution is even more imperative to keep up with these changing retail delivery points.

Demandware and their customers are focused on some key topics facing retailers – all focused on the importance of mobile. The question remains how much can the fulfillment side of the retail supply chain weave into this mobile strategy? As consumers continue to influence the retail supply chain, retailers will also need to adopt a more flexible and responsive fulfillment strategy to integrate with their mobile strategy.

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Infor acquires GT Nexus – bolsters their supply chain offerings.

The following blog post was jointly written with Ray Wang – click here for bio.

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On August 11th, 2015, Infor announced the $675M acquisition of GT Nexus, a private supply chain and procurement network solution vendor.  GTNexus brings $150M in cloud revenue, 28,000 companies on their network, 100,000 users across 66 countries, and $100B of goods each year on the procurement network. Constellation believes this will have long term consequences for both client bases. The largest impact might be in the continued transformation of Infor into a true cloud solution powerhouse. Constellation sees three main takeaways:

 

  1. Manufacturing is no longer an island in the digital economy. Both companies have a strong presence within manufacturing. GT Nexus completes the network economy by including a procurement network and supply chain orchestration.

 

Point of view (POV): Network economies require three things: content (Product) , network (distribution), and arms dealing (software).  Infor brings a huge base of manufacturers and retailers (products) while GT Nexus brings the procurement (network).  The combined clouds (arms dealer) bring technologies to the manufacturers to enable direct to customer and go from product ideation to commerce.

 

  1. Platform play opens up additional total addressable markets. GT Nexus has made major efforts to grow their platform – to become the network of networks.  The platform provides Infor with an untapped market opportunity.

 

(POV): GT Nexus has demonstrated the power of the platform via success stories such as Caterpillar who has leveraged the solution to better manage their network of products. Via the cloud based platform, Caterpillar is not only able to manage this vast range of products but is also able to pull insights from the large amount of data that is being created from the platform. Truly taking the community information and adapting new business use cases. This platform development will open up new opportunities for Infor customers.

Especially when it comes to verticals such as retail where Infor has been working hard to reworking in some cases developing an entire new suite of offerings. the knowledge and experience that GT Nexus brings to the equation will accelerate these efforts. Which could mean that Infor lwill be able to integrate this cloud based platform into their current offerings. The networks that Infor will add, such as the one exemplified by Caterpillar, will bring a tremendous asset to a company that is looking to become “the world’s first industry cloud company.”

 

  1. Combined force can become major player for retail. As stated during Infor’s analyst day in March of this year, the company was building “everything from scratch”  for retail.

 

(POV): With the addition of GT Nexus to the fold, where ever those efforts where they will only get a tremendous boost from what GT Nexus already has in the fold. Working with the likes of Patagonia, Brooks Brothers and Deckers (makers of such brands as UGG and Teva), GT Nexus has addressed a wide array of retailer issues. From better supplier relations to cross channel order management, the GT Nexus platform has been tackling major issues facing retailers. This focus on the retail supply chain is an important piece of the Infor puzzle. This is an area that Infor has expressed a strong desire to become a major player in, with this news it might just achieve that goal.

The Bottom Line: Network Economies Democratize The Disruption Of Digital Businesses

Mergers are nothing new in the world of enterprise software and customers should not be surprised.. GT Nexus was one of the few large supply chain and procurement vendors that could be an acquisition target. Others vendors such as Manhattan Associates, Logility and Kinaxis remain strong tragets for mergers and acquisition in supply chain.  On the procurement side, hot startup Coupa is giving SAP Ariba a run for the money.  The result, it makes sense for large players such as Infor to turn their eyes to such a move and iit fulfills a need that cannot be allowed to wait for development to satisfy.

Recommendations: Rationalize Your Vendors In The Cloud Post Merger

For Infor customers this should prove to be highly beneficial. GT Nexus will add a host of new offerings that Infor customers should be able to take advantage of immediately. Infor customer’s in manufacturing or retail should determine what parts of GT Nexus they can immediately address for supply chain orchestration and procurement network issues. For GT Nexus clients, things should be business as usual. However, be aware that supply chain and procurement networks are not the only priority for Infor. On the contrary, Infor has been more successful in ERP and HCM. Customers should ensure that they are clear as to how they will fit in the new organization and what efforts will be made to ensure that their solutions continue to command the attention it warrants.  As many customers overlap, they should evaluate how the merger streamlines existing contracts and improve the ability to create network economies.

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Filed under Cloud, Current Events, Manufacturing, Retail, Supply Chain, Technology

Oracle doubles down on the cloud

Last week I got out of Boston just ahead of the massive blizzard that covered much of the area with over 3 feet of snow (I was not so fortunate this week, as I watch another foot of snow fall). My destination? A much warmer and sunnier San Jose, where I spent a busy 2 days with Oracle at their annual Oracle Value Chain Summit. The main theme for the visit, similar to what was discussed at Oracle’s Open World conference at the end of the 2014 was the importance of cloud within the portfolio of Oracle solutions. Oracle also showcased the wide breadth of solutions and case studies they have in the supply chain space – a testament to the mega vendors solution portfolio.

Here are my take aways from the two days I spent on the west coast.

  • Oracle is doubling down on the cloud. The main stage sessions on Tuesday, January 27,placed a heavy emphasis on the efforts and growth of the Oracle cloud offerings. Both Oracle CEO Mark Hurd and Steve Miranda, EVP of Applications Development, spent extensive time discussing the success Oracle has seen with their cloud solutions and continuing to make the case for a greater number of solutions being moved to the cloud. Highlighting the success they have had with the cloud for their HCM (more than 950 new applications cloud customers), CX (more than 1100 new customers) and ERP solutions (more than 250 new customers), it is clear that Oracle is doubling down on the cloud for 2015. This next year should be interesting with regards to which solutions in the Oracle Value Chain portfolio get heavily invested into the cloud. Mr. Hurd has a vision of a few mega vendors providing a full suite of solutions that allow supply chain solutions to be fully stitched together. As we know, for the supply chain space that entails a complex and wide array of solutions. Oracle has already put many of these in the cloud, 2015 will be an interesting year to watch as this cloud push continues to pick up steam.
  • Oracle is happy to sell you the point supply chain solution you need. One strategy that has serviced Oracle well is their willingness and ability to sell some point solutions, which allow them to gain a foothold within accounts. Rather than always trying to push a larger suite solution sale, the point solution strategy gives Oracle great flexibility when it comes to account targeting. Organizations such as Mason Companies and Ricoh are leveraging the Oracle WMS offering to manage their distribution networks, but see this investment as a first step to address greater supply chain needs. Areas such as greater system optimization or after sale management could conceivably grow from this WMS foray. Oracle’s long running strategy of acquiring strong point solutions such as G-Log, Retek and Demantra to name a few, allows the flexibility to sell these solutions into accounts as opposed to have a “one mega size” fits all offering. Oracle will be well served to continue this tact.
  • However there remains room for best of breed providers. While Mr. Hurd argues for a handful, or fewer, of large vendors providing a one-stop shop, there will always remain room for best of breed vendors. Why? Because these mega vendors cannot service every solution and need of the user at the highest-level possible. That is no knock on these mega vendors. A recent article in the Economist pointed out that even in the world of mega vendors – such as Google in search – that smaller vendors still hold an important role. They are in existence to address specific areas that the larger vendors cannot properly address. For example, speaking with a manufacturer who looked to leverage Oracle’s global trade management (GTM) offering was disappointed in the level of maturity of the solution. They had to lean heavily on their solution integrator to fill in the gaps of the Oracle GTM offering. A candid story to say the least, but not surprising. These large vendors have such an extensive portfolio; across so many different industries that one cannot expect that each solution has received the same level of development and attention as one another. Customers need to keep this in mind when making vendor selections – sometimes a vendor that focuses on one specific supply chain problem offers the best solution.

As Mr. Hurd said from main stage “supply chain is hard,” there is no doubt about that! Oracle spent over two days giving us a host of case studies and presentations of how they are tackling these hard problems. The sessions I was able to attend provided a wide swath of stories about how companies from global automotive suppliers to General Electric Power & Water are leveraging Oracle to better manage their supply chains.

It will be interesting to watch how Mr. Hurd’s theory in the rise of the mega vendors plays out. Something to watch in 2015 and beyond.

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