Supply Chain Leader Ideas & Innovations from i2 Technologies
What’s on the Horizon?
Advanced systems, new business paradigms and new
management processes will create unparalleled agility, speed
and responsiveness to customer demand
7 Principles of Supply Chain Agility
Creating Virtual Verticality in Horizontal Supply Chains
A (Software) Platform for the Future
Big Is Beautiful at Panasonic
Technology Empowers Hurricane Relief Efforts • Impact of RFID
Outsourcing Supply Chain Analytics Can Improve Business Results
The Supply Chain Company TM
In this Issue
What’s on the Horizon? by John Cummings
A new generation of supply chain management is at hand. Advanced systems, new business
paradigms and processes will create more agility, more speed and greater responsiveness to demand
than ever before. Supply chain management will become a competitive differentiator, with supply
chains pitted against each other and supply chain clusters challenging today’s leaders.
Features Page 15 Page 22 Page 24
7 Principles of Creating A Platform
Supply Chain Virtual Verticality for the Future
Agility in Horizontal by
by Sanjiv Sidhu Supply Chains Emmanuel Sabourin
by Hiten Varia and Aditya
Speed alone won’t win the race. New technology is achieving the The i2 Agile Business Process Platform
Here are seven ways top-performing advantages of vertical supply chains offers big benefits through the
companies are gaining speed and without the costs. power of two technology advances:
better performance through agility. service-oriented architectures and
expandable workflow/process libraries.
Page 20 A major semiconductor manufacturer wanted to sharply increase its on-time delivery to customer-request dates,
without increasing inventory. i2 Inventory Optimization provided a flexible, demand-driven approach.
Page 27 When a major electronics retailer realized its disconnect between Purchasing and Logistics was
costing it customers, it turned to i2 Supply Chain Visibility.
Page 29 Collaborative Material Management: New Systems Enable Synchronization Between
Procurement and Material Planning, by Sharmistha Dubey
Page 32 Transportation Management: Best Practices in Global Logistics, by Razat Gaurav
Page 3 CEO’s Perspective: Looking to a New Generation of Supply Chain Management, by Michael McGrath
Page 4 Interview: Big Is Beautiful at Panasonic, an Interview with Mike Aguilar, by Victoria Cooper
Page 8 Focus: Outsourcing Supply Chain Analytics Can Improve Business Results, by Amarnath Thombre,
Madhu Rajendran and Lee Wilwerding
Page 30 Opinion: What Impact Will Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology Have on
Supply Chain Management? by Michael Cohen
Page 34 Beyond Business: Technology Empowers Relief Efforts During Hurricane Katrina, by Victoria Cooper
Page 36 Inside i2: 2005 Recap–Focus on Financial Stability, by Mike Berry
See Supply Chain Leader online at www.i2.com.
The magazine is published three times annually by i2 Technologies, Inc., in spring, fall and winter. This is its inaugural issue.
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 1
CEO’s Perspective by Michael McGrath
Looking to a New Generation
of Supply Chain Management
Welcome to the premiere issue of Supply Chain Leader. “engine,” the customization of software workflows for an
In this inaugural issue, i2 Technologies heralds the next individual company’s unique supply chain processes was
generation of supply chain management solutions and impossible. Now, both those hurdles have been overcome.
practices, which will finally allow supply chains to be What are the advantages? The workflows stemming
managed cross-functionally for superior performance. from management processes take advantage of best practices
As was the case in all previous generations of improve- in different industries, so they have a “built-in” expertise.
ment, new breakthrough technologies—service-oriented They’re also adaptable, so companies can customize them
architectures and business process platforms—are enabling to their particular needs. And the combined capabilities
the practices of this new generation. I predict the impact of a service-oriented architecture and a platform engine
of this new generation will equal or exceed that of previous allow data, applications and workflow processes to be
generations enabled by material resource planning (MRP), integrated not just across one enterprise but across
enterprise resource planning (ERP) and advanced multiple enterprises, encompassing suppliers, channels
planning systems (APS): and other strategic partners.
• The MRP Generation applied the capabilities The opportunities for better supply chain management
of large-scale computing to enable companies from these new capabilities are endless. Among the most
to calculate material requirements based on what The emerging generation of solutions
was needed to achieve sales forecasts.
and practices will finally allow supply
• The ERP Generation enabled the integration chains to be managed cross-functionally,
of supply chain transactions across the enterprise,
powered by the new client-server technology. for superior performance.
• The APS Generation allowed for functional significant opportunties are the ability to shape demand
optimization, using large-memory computing. This and achieve immediate visibility into data, leading to more
resulted in dramatic improvements in optimization relevant and current information, and, consequently,
of factories, demand and transportation. better modeling and forecasting, planning and decision-
But now we’re in a new, faster, more complex and making. Now, forecasts and plans previously generated
more demanding world of supply chain management. periodically can be created dynamically using streaming
Globalization has necessitated outsourcing and created demand data.
a greater need for multi-enterprise planning and risk Also, demand can be shaped based on supply chain
management, as well as for more dynamic forecasting. contingencies engendered by man-made and natural
The time has passed when a functional focus alone— events, supply and demand disconnects and competitive
on optimizing factory production, transportation manage- actions. The greatest benefits of these new capabilities
ment and demand forecasting—can be competitive. will come in increased revenues and gross margins.
Yet, the idea that a company can build anywhere and sell At i2, we’re committed to continue our leadership in
everywhere tugs at traditional notions of centralized versus creating innovative, new solutions based on a deep and
decentralized organization and governance. It is now focused understanding of supply chain issues and processes
necessary to rethink and reorder workflows, process and an insistence on pushing the bar upwards in achieving
management, partnerships/alliances and business models— excellence and competitive superiority in supply chain
all requiring cross-functional supply chain processes. management. Supply Chain Leader is not just a way for us
Over the past five years, i2 has invested in developing to share our thought leadership with you; it’s also a way
the i2 Agile Business Process Platform, built with to recognize your company’s supply chain leadership in
a service-oriented architecture and a software library its own right.
of workflows (i2 Studio). Before the advent of service-
oriented architectures, the systems-integration cost to Michael McGrath
is CEO and President of i2 Technologies, the founder
assimilate data from a wide range of applications serving of two other software companies and the cofounder
cross-functional processes was prohibitive. But with SOA, of management consultancy PRTM. He has authored
five books on the subject of high-technology manage-
applications can be “plugged in” as services. Likewise, ment. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
until the development of a business process platform
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 3
Interview by Victoria Cooper
Big Is Beautiful at Panasonic
The consumer electronics giant is betting on large-screen
plasma TVs as the display technology of the future.
In February, Supply Chain Leader interviewed Mike Why were you interested in moving from sales into
Aguilar, Panasonic’s Senior Vice President of Supply supply chain management at Panasonic?
Chain Strategic Initiatives. Aguilar has been with Panasonic
for 29 years, recently moving into this position after leading I wasn’t. Our chairman, Yoshi Yamada, asked that
the company’s North American sales operations for five I make the move, and I finally saw the wisdom in it.
years. The consumer electronics division of Panasonic is Panasonic wants to maintain its market lead in plasma
preparing for the conversion to the digital spectrum by the display sales and that will require changing the basic
United States in February 2009. The question is, how fast business paradigm between us and our channel partners.
and how big will the spike be in sales of high-definition Mr. Yamada thought that someone with a good sales
products and which technology will win? To answer present background would understand what the channel partner
demand and build for more, Panasonic is opening its fourth and the end-consumer need. He understands that the
plasma display plant in Amagasaki, Japan. Once it is fully consumer doesn’t care so much about the technology as
operational (expected in 2007), Panasonic will become the the solution: Is the picture quality good? Can the user
largest plasma manufacturer in the world. The company show home movies and still photographs on the screen?
commands the largest market share today (hovering at 50 Is the audio quality good? Mr. Yamada wanted to change
percent) of a market expected to reach 10 million units by the marketplace, to enhance demand for larger screen
2009. Plasma TVs currently account for 90 percent of the displays, a high-ticket item.
global demand for flat-panel TVs in sizes above 37 inches.
Why is Panasonic betting on large-screen plasma
We believe it provides the best quality picture and
delivers a superior overall visual experience compared
with other formats. It’s also a core technology at
Panasonic—one we’ve been investing in and developing
for many years. We’re the leaders in developing high-
definition plasma display technologies in all large screen
sizes, including the world’s largest plasma at 103 inches!
We want to take advantage of our lead in this area and make
the most of trends we are seeing in the marketplace for
more at-home enjoyment of the “big picture” phenomenon.
It’s actually an interesting phenomenon. If you look
back at the TV business five years ago, you would have
been hard-pressed to sell anyone a TV over $500 in value.
And the largest screen was 36 inches. But, because people
have seen the high-definition signal in malls and stores
(and recently, the broadcast of the Winter Olympics in
Torino, Italy in high definition), and experienced the
higher quality, most are trying to get the largest screen
that can fit in their homes. And prices have been falling,
so that has also spurred interest.
Photos by Jared Leeds
What’s at the root of the fascination with
Mainly, it’s the experience. It’s much more exciting—
mesmerizing, actually—to see a sports program or a movie
on a large screen with high-definition resolution and color.
It’s interesting to look at the statistics on movie ticket
sales in the past few years, too. They’ve been down, and
you have to ask yourself why. I don’t think it’s because
of the content. There are simply more people trying to
duplicate the movie-theater experience at home and
waiting until after the release of new movies to buy the
DVD. Or they’re watching through their cable or satellite
company. While they’re watching at home, they want to
have a similar experience to what they see and hear in the
theater. For that they need surround sound. So we’re
designing home theater audio systems to go with the
plasma display screens. In fact, when we look at this
business we don’t just look at it as a TV business. We look
at it in three categories: the TV business, the DVD player/
recorder business and the digital, still-camera business.
Like the cable and satellite suppliers, these last two
categories are really going to be providing the content In HDTV plasma technology, we have a category
for home entertainment. similar to the computer industry in its price deterioration,
The phenomenon has accelerated the furniture, shelving except at a much more rapid pace. In this three-year-old
and wall-mount businesses too, since the big screens category, we’re going through 30–40 percent price
become the focal point in a room and have to be designed deterioration every year. And it’s a price deterioration
into the room either with cabinetry, designated spaces or based on products that have an average retail price of
hanging fixtures. And, of course, once consumers can’t $5,000. We’re also entering a market that is going to
receive the digital spectrum on their old, analog-signal TVs, replace all of the traditional tube TV business that the
they’ll need to have a converter box to use their sets at all. average consumer has in his home today. So we’re going
That will also spur a new category in consumer electronics. into a new territory. The price deterioration is the result
Lastly, there are many competitors on the scene. Up of the extreme competition in this area—among companies
until the last couple of years the computer manufacturers and technologies (liquid crystal display versus plasma,
didn’t take up space in this category, but obviously there for example).
are two ways to look at this convergence of technologies. The curve of adoption of this new technology is also
One is that the home will be computer-centric and the interesting. Formerly, in consumer electronics, you would
other is that the home will be display-centric and have add- introduce a new technology in a “boutique” channel: A
on appliances to that display technology. Nobody knows high-end TV or audio system would start in a specialty
who the winner is going to be. Obviously, we’re betting on store once the concept was established and had caught some
the display-centric scenario with moveable media. momentum. And then it would move into electronics
specialty stores and, finally, mass merchants. There was
What is the magnitude of the phenomenon of high- a lot of cycle time required to develop and improve the
definition plasma TVs, in consumer electronics terms? product because you’d start at the high end and then
reintroduce new products at lower prices.
We’ve never seen this monstrous spike in a new Today, that curve has been totally eliminated. Consumers
category. Not with VCRs or CDs or DVDs. The amount want new technology immediately, and they want it in any
of growth and the rapidity of growth in high-definition channel they choose to buy it in, whether a warehouse club,
TV technologies and displays can’t even be compared a Wal-Mart, a Best Buy or a Tweeter.
with that of other categories.
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 5
What are the problems this demand has created for Why do you think you can do this better than
the supply chain? your retailers can?
There’s no longer the luxury of taking a long develop- Ah, that’s a good question. The short answer is that
ment time in a product cycle; the product cycle has to be we are looking at the data more carefully and with more
married to a huge vertical launch, all at the same time precision than they can, because we have engaged in a
with a massive amount of retailers. So the supply chain partnership with i2 Technologies to do so. Let me explain.
has become extremely important in ensuring that all of When we took on the project of shifting our emphasis
the retailers can supply all of the potential consumers at from supply to demand and shifting our forecasting to
the same time. a POS forecasting system, we had two choices. We could
Because of the size and vulnerability of the plasma go through the traditional process of buying software and
screens, there are also special problems associated with installing it inside our company. (This would be a very
packing, moving and storage. Plasma screens take up a lot
of room on trucks and in warehouses. You can only fit 150
screens in a 53-foot semi, for example. For that reason,
retailers were stocking small volumes, and with the
spikes in demand of the past year or so, that has been a
problem. Because these are high-priced items, it became
obvious to us that for forecasting and planning purposes
we needed to have closer knowledge of demand signals
at the point of sale (POS).
So we’ve had to transition from being a “sell-in”
company to being a “sell-through” company. The real
sale doesn’t take place when we sell “in” to our retailers;
it occurs when the retailer sells “through” to its customers.
We needed to become much more cognizant of what the
retailers own and to look at end-to-end supply, which we
never did earlier.
How are you getting at that information you need—
the data from the consumer end?
Our traditional methodology was to collect POS
information from our retailers once a week. And we
collected it on a national level. But to really understand
what is happening in the market, we’ve had to switch to
once a day and to gather data from each individual store.
So, in the case of our largest retail partners, we are collect-
ing information from thousands of stores every day. This
is a huge amount of information to process, and it is
regional and local-store information, allowing us to adjust
our marketing and promotions at that granular level.
The result is that the channels have had to change the
way they do business with us. We asked them to make a
large investment in their IT infrastructure to share POS
information with us. Traditionally, we had a buy/sell
relationship with the retailers, and then it evolved into
a collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment
(CPFR) relationship. But we have now taken that a step
further and asked our retailers to let us help choose what
merchandise to put into their distribution centers on a
6 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
long process—up to two years—and it would entail hiring You’re doing a lot to ensure that you maintain your
many more forecasting analysts than we have on staff.) lead. What about budgets? Do you have a massive
If we had chosen this route, we would have missed a huge budget for advertising?
part of the growth curve that’s taking place right now.
The second choice was to have i2, which has extensive We’ve doubled our advertising budget every year in
software development and consulting services in India, this three-year stretch so far. It has become an enormous
perform the data capture and analysis for us. We decided amount of money we’re spending for two reasons: to
to “rent” both the software and i2’s expertise in forecasting maintain and grow our market share and to enhance our
analysis. We made several trips to India and were able to brand image. We believe that, especially with high-priced
get this project going in just a few months rather than a items, people buy the brand as well as the product features.
few years. Essentially, just as we are embedding ourselves
in our channel partners’ supply chain operations, we are Panasonic is noted for its product innovation. But
embedding i2 into our forecasting operations. We look at you also hold onto your manufacturing capability.
this as a kind of insourcing. Why is that?
The partnership is really among Panasonic Japan,
Panasonic USA, and i2 Technologies and is working out We’ve always been strong in both product innovation
well because of the advantages created by the time and manufacturing. We outsource very little, because we
differences. We’re essentially cutting out a day from our believe our brand image is only as good as the quality
forecasting process, because although our channel partners’ of the product we make. For that reason we make most
weeks end on either Friday or Saturday, the information of our components. Once you start outsourcing the quality
is in India on Sunday (their Monday). They work on it of your product, you are risking your brand on someone
all day and deliver it to our desktops on our Monday. else’s production capabilities.
In this way, we’re able to operate 24/7.
Another help has come from a shift in our focus from What excites you most about supply chain
supply-side management to POS-managed inventory. management today?
To do this, we’ve brought in POS analysts, whom we
have never had before, and demand analysts that are It plays an extraordinarily important role now. It’s
concentrating on this project. We’re assigning analysts to the key focus of all of our management at Panasonic.
each of our key channel partners so we have people who Everybody realizes that the only way to take cost out of
are specialists dedicated to a product in a channel partner. the system now is on the supply chain side; every other
They are not generalists taking a global view of a category, area has been attacked already. In addition to that, supply
but rather gauging a slim slice of what each channel partner chain is the key to making sure you have the right product
is up to. They are becoming experts in what is happening at the right place at the right time: the traditional quandary.
at the retail end. What I think excites everyone here, including me, is
not just trying to figure out how to take time out of the
You have to have a strong plan to make the forecast production cycle, but also how to rapidly supply our dealers.
good. Any new planning methodology? Instead of making them wait 11–18 days for a delivery,
how can we get it to them in 1–3 days? So, we’re viewing
We have a sales budget for every one of our channel supply chain management not just from the production
partners for every week of the year. So we have to be very and supply side but from the perspective of fully integrating
flexible and agile with our factories in order to change the logistics picture. As a result, we’re now repositioning
production to be in sync with what’s happening on the our warehouse facilities as close to our channel partners
demand side. In an earlier time, when the focus was all as possible. If you think about it, the more inventory you
on supply rather than demand, you would try to lock your have with them, the less flexible they are. And it’s difficult
channel partners into specific quantities. But now you for a large channel partner to transfer merchandise back
have to be flexible enough to say, “There’s risk on both and forth. But it’s easy for a supplier to nimbly move that
sides; we’re both going to take that risk, and, as the merchandise to where it’s needed as rapidly as possible.
market changes, we both have to change as quickly as it’s By offering rapid replenishment to retailers, we can help
changing.” So it’s a very different system than operating them keep their inventory at a low level and increase their
with a locked-in production number. cash flow rapidly. We’ll all profit from that.
See Mike Aguilar at i2 Planet in Las Vegas May 10 –12.
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 7
Focus by Amarnath Thombre, Madhu Rajendran and Lee Wilwerding
Outsourcing Supply Chain Analytics
Many companies in a wide range of industries have patterns in the marketplace. These insights, in turn, help
realized major cost savings by outsourcing and offshoring companies maintain the right—that is, minimum—level
back-room functions, call centers, IT and business processes. of inventory throughout the supply chain, for major cost
As the expertise of outsourcing providers has improved— savings. Also, focusing on the right inventory strategy
and confidence in their expertise has grown—companies can have a huge impact on service levels or availability,
have begun to outsource increasingly sophisticated affecting revenue and market share.
functions, such as specialty design and manufacturing. These insights can be especially valuable for companies
Now, a handful of forward-looking companies are off- with a large number of SKUs. For instance, one large
shoring the analysis of supply chain data to help make better manufacturer in the high-tech industry offered 10,000
operating decisions. By tapping into the analytical skills of different types of components. Keeping the right number
lower-cost countries with a well-educated workforce—such available to meet changing customer needs was an ongoing
as India—companies are getting valuable insights from data nightmare. But by outsourcing analysis of its sales data,
that had once been too voluminous or too complex to deal the company discovered that 10 percent of its products—
with quickly and in a cost-effective manner in-house. dubbed the A products—resulted in 90 percent of its ship-
Managed supply chain services can ments. Another group of products—C products—was
rapidly improve business results, rarely ordered at all. Also, the ordering patterns varied
widely by customers. Certain customers gave four to six
especially in demand management and
weeks of lead time for delivery, while others wanted ship-
ment within three days of placing an order. Based on these
Unlike traditional outsourcing and offshoring, which insights, the company decided to focus on keeping the
always carry a degree of operational and financial risk— high-demand components in stock at all times.
and in some cases, disappointing results—outsourcing The manufacturer also decided to follow an inventory
supply chain analytics is virtually risk-free. It’s relatively deployment strategy that aligned with customer order lead
easy to implement, requiring no exchange of people, times—for shorter lead times, following a make-to-stock
processes or systems. It’s also flexible. Instead of being model, and for longer lead-time demand, adopting a build-
locked into multi-year contracts, most companies simply to-order model with periodic inventory target recommen-
subscribe to a data-analytics service on an as-needed basis. dations. Customer-service levels on these high-demand
Outsourcing providers in India are able to spread one highly products soared. By contrast, C components were only
skilled, low-cost expert across three or four accounts, for finished and shipped when a specific customer order came
far greater leverage than an individual company could in. This segmentation strategy led to enormous cost savings
achieve on its own. and greatly simplified inventory management—benefits that
the company wouldn’t have realized without outsourcing.
Better demand forecasting and inventory management Better data analysis can also pinpoint problems that
Managed supply chain services can rapidly improve might have gone unresolved before. One consumer elec-
business results, especially in the closely aligned areas tronics company had just started selling a new TV model in
of demand management and inventory optimization. a discount store chain. The company shipped five weeks of
By collecting and analyzing point-of-sale data, along with inventory to the store’s distribution network, then sat back
data on inventory levels throughout the supply chain, and waited for the revenue to roll in. But sales were far
product seasonality, the effect of promotions in different lower than expected. Working with data on sales per store,
regions and competitive data, companies can manage per region, the outsourcer discovered that in the two regions
demand far more effectively by quickly reacting to market that usually had the highest sales, the TVs had only reached
changes and competitive actions to increase revenue. the discount store’s distribution centers, not the stores
The insights gained can help companies target promo- themselves. In fact, the retailer had an undiscovered execu-
tional spending to “shape” demand and make better tion issue. When the service provider showed the retailer
decisions about when and how to replenish inventory. the analytics that revealed the log jam, the store quickly
A flexible demand forecasting model that regularly corrected the problem. Sales doubled in those regions
tunes itself to changing market conditions gives companies over the next three weeks. This level of analysis—and
better guidance on how much inventory to keep and which the speed with which it was done—would have been
channels and regions to distribute it to, based on buying impossible with the company’s existing staff and expertise.
8 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
Can Improve Business Results
Getting started in a specific supply chain competency, such as more
With shrinking product life cycles, ongoing cost accurate forecasting or better inventory management.
pressures and growing variability in customer demand, Then, the provider integrates with the customer’s data
the supply chain must be more agile and effective than sources and determines how often to receive data, in what
ever before. Yet many companies have been disappointed format and so forth. This process takes about two months.
in their supply chain software, often after making major Then, the data-analysis service is up and running, and new
investments in time and money. Add to this the fact that insights begin to accrue.
the granularity and frequency of information are increasing Although starting up a data-analysis program is
from such sources as POS data capture, market research, relatively straightforward, a company may find that getting
the Internet and RFID. Subscription outsourcing is a way its employees to trust and use the findings will be a
to improve supply chain planning and effectiveness quickly, challenge. Changing the way people work is always hard.
at a reasonable cost. Getting started can take as little as Strong executive sponsorship is usually needed to ensure
two months, so time-to-results is far faster and less costly that the new insights are acted on. Another hurdle for
than implementing yet another software program or some companies is becoming comfortable giving
developing the needed skills in-house, which takes even out proprietary data. However, most service providers
longer because of the steep learning curve involved. have strong security measures in place and will sign
non-disclosure agreements upfront.
A more accurate demand forecasting
At some point, many companies elect to bring the
model offers better guidance on how
data-analysis service in-house in a “co-sourcing” arrange-
much inventory to keep and which
ment, where the outsourcing team integrates with the client
channels and regions to distribute it to. team and teaches them the needed data-analysis skills.
Outsourcing supply chain analytics usually starts with Outsourcing data analysis holds great promise for
a needs-analysis stage, where the service provider seeks companies that want to reach the next level of supply
to understand the company, its supply chain and its data. chain effectiveness quickly, at a relatively low cost.
Based on its findings, the service provider creates a By supporting better planning, demand forecasting
customized data-analysis program designed to meet the and inventory management, this new category of out-
company’s needs. Typically, the program focuses on a sourcing is delivering major returns to the companies
specific problem or goal, such as preventing lost sales, that have tried it.
increasing inventory turns or improving promotional
Request more information at: email@example.com.
effectiveness. These goals are then linked to improvement
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 9
What’s on the Horizon?
by John Cummings
o ver the last third of the 20th century,
supply chain management has been very
important to global commerce. Today’s
high-performance supply chains span
synchronize hierarchies of suppliers and distributors
by deploying money and information through efficient
command-and-control networks. Their rivals will have few
options but to set aside short-term competitive concerns,
organizing into supply chain teams to compete. They won’t
be able to catch up otherwise.
the globe. Even if the time is right, can it happen? It has worked
in the bricks-and-mortar world, when complementary
Changes in business processes, companies have self-organized into geographic clusters:
information flows, technology and financial leather goods around Florence, electronics around Santa
Clara, for example. Global, multi-enterprise supply
models will transform the world further chains are clusters’ natural successors––electronically
in the next decade. These changes have organized and coordinated to compete with one another
and with hierarchical giants, supply chain against
everything to do with paradigm-changing supply chain.
business models. The next generation in
2. Global process improvement will replace
supply chain and business management “business as usual”
is at hand. Of course, building strong, collaborative supply chains
Eight predictions of things to come encompassing
business processes, information management and
financial models in supply chain management.
takes more than motivation. Optimizing one company
Changes in process management doesn’t transform a supply chain any more than optimizing
1. The multi-enterprise supply chain problem one machine transforms a factory. To enable global supply
will be solved chains, next-generation supply chain management will
There are few vertically integrated companies left in expand cross-functionally, without stopping at enterprise
today’s world. Modern supply chains cross multiple enter- boundaries. Optimization will be based on a greater business
prises, accumulating value from multiple tiers of suppliers, need, not simply on the needs of an individual, functional
some of them half a world away. Synchronizing activities silo. Continuous process improvement on a global scale
along these multi-enterprise supply chains is the next great will emerge as a fundamental requirement for business
task of supply chain management. In short, it will require a success and a core competency among business leaders.
scope of collaboration never before seen in modern business. The key to these next-generation processes is demand-
While collaboration is an evergreen topic in supply chain supply synchronization, with “demand” in front and in charge.
journals, many real-world initiatives in this realm have fallen Real-time demand, integrated across customers and customers’
flat. Disciplines like collaborative planning, forecasting and customers, will provide suppliers, and their suppliers, with
replenishment (CPFR) are constantly undercut by unilateral complete supply and demand visibility up and down the
service-level agreements, information-hoarding by channel supply chain. And since demand and supply are fast-moving
masters and defensive and retaliatory behavior from partners. and interdependent, supply initiatives will merge with cross-
What kind of motivation can overcome bad habits practiced enterprise Total Quality Management and Six-Sigma initiatives
over decades? in a continuous cycle of improvement. Deming’s “plan-do-
The answer is “survival.” Today’s toughest competitors check-act” cycles will flow as a continuous, real-time process.
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 11
3. Agile supply chains will replace static hierarchies New models for information flow and
Today’s collaborative supply chains are high velocity. decision-making
End-to-end visibility and strong enterprise-spanning
business processes accelerate inventory management, product 4. Rich data from smart devices will demand
introduction and ordering and fulfillment cycles, for and empower new management practices
increased competitiveness throughout the chain. As New information management models are already
collaborative supply chains compete with hierarchical driving end-to-end visibility, supply chain agility and
rivals and one another, victory will go to the most agile continuous process improvement across global, multi-
teams (see article, page 15). enterprise supply chains. And the sheer volume of it
Why? Because demand is never static. Even when its will make the 1990s Internet bubble look like a trickle.
level stays put, demand mix shifts across products with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), continuous
different costs, production constraints and cycle times, from demand signals from mobile consumer communications
one geographic region to another, and among customers and smart devices built into every imaginable product will
as their requirements and demands shift. To meet the extend supply chain visibility down to the unit level and
challenge of dynamic demand, supply chains must contin- throughout product life cycles.
uously adapt planning and execution processes, organizations, Automobiles, airplanes and consumer electronics will
sourcing strategies and networks––even the configuration of continuously report operational and usage information
The process of dynamically changing the parameters
of the supply chain will happen instantaneously
the parameters. The process of dynamically changing the upstream in the supply chain, enabling precision sales of
supply chain will happen instantaneously and continuously. upgrades and replacements, continuous monitoring of con-
Essentially, the supply chain will be tuned as it is managed. sumption habits, predictive targeting of maintenance and
The supply chains that keep up––agile in the short run, repair, and, inevitably, a thousand new operations that can’t
adaptive in the long run––will lead their industries. be seen from today’s frame of reference. Millions of devices
Hierarchies, with static, top-down management and readers—each with its own Web address—will stay
structures and redundant organizational overhead will be in continuous contact with supply chain hubs up and
at a disadvantage in this new environment. Uncooperative down the chain. This new, rich information will be the
practices, like hoarding information or pushing risk onto raw material for synchronization at every point along
suppliers and distributors, undermine the trust that allows the chain, each member using whatever information
a supply chain team to function as a single, efficient unit. is needed to optimize its contribution to the chain’s
And yesterday’s static tools, incapable of looking beyond business effectiveness.
functional boundaries, will prove no match for the vision To compete effectively, multi-enterprise supply chains
and reach of new supply chain competitors. The best of the must develop new ways of absorbing, managing and using
giants understand these dynamics. Toyota, for example, is all of this information. New systems must not just manage
renowned for both its collaborative approach with supply an avalanche of information, but dynamically update
chain partners and its nimble response to market changes. parameters and reconfigure themselves, invisibly and
A decade from now, no one will see that combination as rare. instantaneously taking advantage of the trends they identify.
12 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
As complex as all this sounds, there’s hope for managing E-commerce has changed the relationships between
the complexity. With every new source of information buyers and sellers. Buyers can select between feature-rich
comes a new point of leverage and a chance for the agile products available later or at higher prices and standard
supply chain to meet or shape consumer demand. products available right now for less. This demand-shaping
approach will become widespread in many industries.
5. Supply chains will know what an individual
consumer’s needs are as the consumer does Technology advancements
What will supply chains do with all of this information?
The same thing they’ve always done: use it to align supply 6. Dynamic technology will compress
with customer demand. Monitoring moment-to-moment information latency
needs of individual consumers has the power to transform What kind of technology will be available in the future
the way business has been done in the past. Visibility lets to help interpret and manage all of this information?
supply chain partners align supply and demand along Supply chain management will move beyond the borders
the entire chain at once, instead of functional area by of the enterprise, and solutions will follow.
functional area. Evolution, change and adaptation will be the hallmarks
A product development example: e-commerce of any system that connects dynamic supply and demand
has already raised the velocity with which products are in an information-rich environment. As markets emerge,
Evolution, change and adaptation will be the
hallmarks of any system that connects dynamic
supply and demand in an information-rich environment.
introduced and phased through life cycles. Fashion grow and change, supply chains will reconfigure and adapt,
companies—always at the forefront in product life cycle adding new partners, information and business processes
management—are already working on rapid adaptation as necessary to deliver what the market has asked for.
of product introductions to demand signals, down to Tomorrow’s supply chain management solutions will
individual customization. A few leaders have cut so compress the latency of information to an absolute mini-
much time from the demand-to-delivery cycle that mum, enabling instant global execution and visibility. More
they’re repatriating manufacturing, because transport important, they will reduce time-to-act to the point where
time costs them more than offshoring saves. synchronization of supply and demand seems instantaneous.
Customization may take place at many stages in These systems will scarcely be recognizable from the per-
the supply chain, not just during manufacturing. With spective of today’s ownership-focused, enterprise-constrained,
thoughtful product design, a wide variety of industrial enterprise resource planning systems. As a practical matter,
and consumer products are candidates for “postponement” they will empower supply chain leaders to accept orders, bid
strategies—already widespread in high-tech industry— out production and distribution across a global network of
putting off late-stage manufacturing, assembly and partners and promise a delivery date, all as the customer’s
configuration until firm demand signals appear from cursor leaves the “buy it now” button. “Pay-on-scan” business
consumers, smart devices and supply chain intermediaries. models are likely to have the entire supply chain sharing in the
Alignment with demand is possible even after parts have risks, right up to the moment of sale to the end-customer.
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 13
7. Advanced simulation tools will accelerate Summing up
a business’s ability to reconfigure rapidly
The complexity and speed of tomorrow’s markets Taken individually, none of these trends
won’t be contained within static analytical tools. Business
may seem revolutionary. Supply chain
managers will use continuous process modeling and
simulation tools at new levels of granularity, instead of coordination will continue to spread from
static measurements, quarterly reports and deterministic
spreadsheets, to model and simulate multi-enterprise its origins on the factory floor throughout
supply chains. global, multi-enterprise, supply chain net-
Business process design, rapid prototyping, testing
and validation will all be accomplished in the simulated works. Collaboration, business processes
business environment, before rolling them out in the
market environment. Powerful supply chain competitors and process-improvement disciplines will
will not have just a few tricks up their sleeves, but entirely grow to match supply chains’ own scale
new business models—prepared, tested and ready to
deploy when market conditions are right. and speed. Rich data will come from
Examples of simulation-driven, rapid prototyping
of business models exist today. Cutting-edge portfolio
everywhere, all the time, and systems will
companies prototype, assemble and operate entirely new emerge to catch up with and even pull
supply chains, built from manufacturing, distribution and
business-service partners in much the same way that fund ahead of events, using modeling and simu-
managers design, build and manage stock portfolios today.
Finally, modeling and simulation tools will accelerate
lation. Supply chains, and the systems that
continuous process improvement by providing a rapid, coordinate them, will accelerate insight
risk-free way to test and tune business processes and
scenarios before rolling them out in the real world. and action, response and adaptation.
Changes in financial models Financial models will emerge to enable
8. Cash versus cost: financial models will catch up new ways of doing business, delivering
with new business models ever-increasing value to consumers and
Today’s financial models for supply chain processes
are based primarily on activity-based costing. While this fair, and evenly shared, compensation to
is an improvement over its cost-accounting predecessors,
the tension between dynamic supply chain business
the supply chains that serve them.
processes and activity-based costing is already apparent. In the future, the world will be trans-
Supply chain decisions using cash as the basis result in
a significantly different outcome than those focused solely formed by new business paradigms,
on cost. Conversion to cash-flow decision-making will
reveal the actual value-contribution of supply chains,
brought on by the convergence of
and the real business impact of any disruptions. technology and management processes
It’s a little surprising that the financial side of the
supply chain transaction stream has received so little and a newly empowered customer base.
attention. Look for this oversight to be corrected soon, as
companies realize the value of cash-flow-based supply
Beyond even cash-flow and value metrics, a milestone
in the evolution of financial models will come as many Contact: John Cummings is i2’s Chief Marketing Officer
industries adopt pay-on-scan compensation for supply (firstname.lastname@example.org).
14 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
by Sanjiv Sidhu
7 principles of
suppl chain agility
n today’s fiercely competitive global economy, almost 1. Agile organization
every company faces the challenges of ever-increasing How can companies organize to enable agile supply
supply chain complexity. In the past, a typical company chains? An agile supply chain is the result of synchronized,
offered a limited number of products through a single inter-organizational processes, designed to enable a rapid
channel, using one shipping method. No more. Now, response to shifts in demand or supply. Processes and
companies face an explosion of SKUs, channels, suppliers systems facilitate the real-time transfer of information
and delivery options, along with more sophisticated, and plans among multiple departments. Cross-functional
demanding customers and changing governmental synchronization is especially critical, with shared goals
regulations. Keeping up—while maintaining competitive and metrics that support agility. The following capabilities
costs and satisfied customers—is getting harder, especially allow multiple enterprises and organizations within one
because supply and demand variables are changing more company to act as one:
rapidly than ever before. Synchronized planning: The primary tool that
Despite these challenges, a handful of companies coordinates different organizations is a synchronized plan
succeed year after year, consistently producing strong that optimizes company performance—not just depart-
revenue and profit growth—companies like Wal-Mart mental performance. Once departments and groups within
and Dell, whose supply chain excellence is legendary.
a company agree to a shared plan, individual organizations
What’s their secret? Market leaders exhibit a common
can synchronize their sub-plans with corporate objectives
characteristic: agility—an exceptional nimbleness and
and goals. Then, different functional areas or cross-functional
unparalleled ability to respond rapidly and appropriately
groups are given the responsibility and authority to deliver
to changing market conditions. Simply put, supply chain
on their sub-plans with the understanding that not
agility underlies the success of these companies. The
delivering on an individual sub-plan can compromise the
following principles outline the multiple capabilities that
overall plan and hurt the efficiency of the entire company.
companies with agile supply chains exhibit.
In this regard, agile companies live and die by their plans.
Fast escalation: In a dynamic world, variability always
presents new threats and opportunities beyond the bounds
1. Agile organization of any plan. When these threats and opportunities arise,
2. Keeping commitments via agile companies can respond quickly if they have “process
closed-loop plan management playbooks” in place. These playbooks operate in much
the same way that football playbooks do: predetermined
3. Customer intimacy via closed-loop
actions are taken when particular situations are identified
demand management on the playing field.
4. Supplier intimacy via closed-loop Playbooks are effective because they’re built on the
supply management reality that most situations recur frequently. And, often,
5. Efficient delivery via closed-loop pulling the appropriate course of action from a playbook
fulfillment management is easier, faster and just as effective, if not more so, than
inventing something new on the fly.
6. Rapid business reconfiguration
How does a company construct such playbooks? They’re
7. Agile IT systems the result of contingency planning. For example, a company
can outline the steps that should be taken if sales are down
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 15
2. Keeping commitments via closed-loop
Agility is an In typical companies, most plans are “dead on arrival”:
they’re out of sync with demand conditions, or violate
supply constraints. Agile companies implement closed-loop
exceptional nimbleness plan management principles that involve rapid formulation
of a realistic synchronized plan and continuous monitoring
and unparalleled ability of plan execution. In other words, they focus on making
to respond rapidly and the plan happen. Every area commits to its own sub-plan
and provides early warning if deviations occur, enabling
appropriately to changing corrective actions that are rapidly executed and coordinated.
In this way, the plan is globally optimized, and plan
market conditions. management becomes a local focus.
Plan execution is rarely a straight path. Agile companies
understand that it’s an ongoing cycle of planning, doing,
checking and taking corrective actions. This “plan-do-check-
act” cycle is applied to closed-loop plan management, a
cornerstone of agility. Closed-loop plan management is
made up of the following capabilities:
Constraint-optimized planning: The typical process
followed when generating a plan is unidirectional, starting
with a financial plan and followed by a sales plan, an
inventory plan and a supply plan, and so on. The process
is constraint-insensitive and slow. By the time the plan is
generated, too many things have changed.
Agile companies have the ability to use the latest
information on constraints in the planning process and to
consider multiple alternatives to arrive at realistic, optimal
plans—fast. The rule of thumb is to create a plan in one-
tenth of the time it will take to execute it; e.g., a 30-day
plan should take no more that 3 days to create, review
because of the weather, supply issues, shifts in market and roll out.
demand, or a competitor’s pricing, promotions or product Proactive monitoring and analysis of threats: Once
advantages. On the other hand, if sales are stronger than a plan is rolled out, it is subject to threats. For example,
expected, a playbook can help a company capitalize on if the plan was to sell 300 units for the month at a rate of
the opportunity and increase production to take advantage 10 per day, it’s useful to check point-of-sale data to see if
of the situation, as well as direct products to regions with the expected sales are occurring. If 5 units were sold on
the strongest demand. If there’s a weakness in supply at a the first day, it’s helpful to understand the root causes of
competitor, a playbook can help a company move quickly the shortfall in order to take appropriate actions to recover.
to fill the gap, winning new customers along the way. If sales are down due to supply issues, the corrective action
Measurement of performance to synchronized plans: will be different, for instance, than if a competitor’s price
One of the biggest obstacles to taking appropriate discounts are causing the slowdown.
actions when unforeseen variables appear is adherence Corrective actions: Plan owners are expected to take
to “local” metrics. For example, factory managers may quick corrective actions to ensure that their commitment
keep making product that the market is not buying, to the synchronized plan holds. Preferred actions are
reasoning that higher quantities decrease unit costs. those that can be taken unilaterally; e.g., sales teams
Or Sales may promote a product to meet revenue can take pricing and promotion actions to reverse sales
objectives, despite the fact that delivering that shortfalls. Such actions reduce the element of surprise
product is causing huge supply chain inefficiencies and variability for the rest of the business. Of course,
and eating into profitability margins. Agile companies sometimes a plan has to change—say, by reducing
correlate each group’s performance to the achievement the plan by a certain number of units. When this
of synchronized plan objectives. Did the sub-plan happens, it’s important to collaborate and communicate
aid and abet achievement of the overall plan? If not, quickly with all involved parties, such as Procurement
no points are scored. and Production.
16 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
Post-mortems and performance management: A rigorous systems to quickly transfer the information critical for
post-mortem of each plan period helps companies analysis and decision-making.
understand the root causes of deviations and the Corrective actions: Sales groups can react to plan devia-
reasons for corrective actions. This post-mortem can tions with many tactics, including promotions and pricing.
help improve the planning process and hold teams But the problem is, such actions may come too late to be
accountable for executing on plans. Such accountability effective. A lack of processes and tools for examining and
greatly decreases the level of “gaming” the system by reacting to variability may prevent speedy and appropriate
under- or over-forecasting. Emphasis also shifts from corrective actions. Or there may be a cumbersome approval
asking the question, “why did this miss occur?” to process to overcome. Here is where the process playbook
asking, “when did you first know about this and described earlier is useful. It helps agile companies take
what actions did you take?” required actions fast. An example is markdowns. If smaller
markdowns are made earlier—before the product gets
3. Customer intimacy via closed-loop stale—the overall lost revenue may be lower than if larger
demand management markdowns have to be made later in the product life cycle.
Although a forecast is undeniably important, at best Post-mortems and performance management: The
it’s an educated guess of what might happen. The plan’s emphasis here is on understanding what data could have
the thing to focus on. Many companies confuse the two better predicted the deviations from the demand plan,
and thereby create limited accountability. While the fore- and what actions should have been taken that were
cast is often “owned” by an analyst, the plan is owned by somehow missed.
a manager with a commitment to making the demand
plan happen, despite variability. This process of making 4. Supplier intimacy via closed-loop
a demand plan happen is called “closed-loop demand supply management
management,” where the plan-do-check-act process Supply management includes internal and external
is applied to demand management. It involves the sources of supply. As suppliers vie to increase their return
following capabilities: on assets, they actively reduce their excess capacity and
Dynamic demand planning: While some companies inventory. The timely and accurate exchange of plans
focus on historic information to formulate their plans, it’s between manufacturers and suppliers helps suppliers
maintain their responsiveness to variability. Agile companies
Order fulfillment is where the deploy “closed-loop supply management,” where the
rubber meets the road in plan-do-check-act cycle is applied to supply management.
supply chain management. The following are key capabilities in this cycle:
more important in a dynamic market to focus on market Supply planning: Typically, companies take weeks to
trends, competitive position, customer collaboration and convert demand plans to supply plans. Despite this care-
point-of-sale data analysis. Agile companies understand the fulness, supply plans often fail because of an inability to
leading indicators of demand better than the competition. correctly account for capacity, material and other logistical
In the semiconductor or consumer electronics industry, constraints in supply lines. How do agile companies take
for example, demand depends on channel inventory. Such care of this conundrum? They implement fast supply
data become a key input to the demand planning process. planning processes that allow time for many iterations.
Increased rigor in demand planning yields not just better The result is constraint-optimized plans. To support this
understanding of what will be sold but also a far superior planning process, agile companies expect their suppliers to
understanding of actions required for winning in the market. respond to different planning requests in a matter of min-
Proactive monitoring and analysis of threats: Agile utes. In doing so, they are able to see the supplier’s ability
companies monitor sales data at their door and at the to fulfill different demand requests and can quickly choose
channel outlets on a frequent—often, daily—basis. They the optimal path. The different parties involved then receive
know immediately if only 5 units sold on day one, when their marching orders, which they commit to fulfilling.
the plan called for 10. Staying alert to shifts in customer Proactive monitoring and analysis of threats: Some
demand or buying patterns can also present opportunities. suppliers will take all orders, whether or not they have the
If 15 orders are coming in daily, when the plan was to sell capacity and materials to fulfill the order on time, resulting
10 units, agile companies will immediately begin research in poor customer service. Agile companies expect both
to find out why. If it turns out that a competitor’s production internal and external suppliers to notify them promptly if
line is broken, agile companies can quickly capitalize on they are unable to keep commitments made in the planning
this revenue opportunity. Working closely with their phase. Similarly, they inform their suppliers as soon as
channel partners, these companies have already established possible if their own orders will be smaller than expected
organizational structures, management processes and IT because of changes in demand.
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 17
Corrective actions: Managing supply means finding existing customer orders, allocation rules, transportation
and fixing supply problems promptly. If a supplier calls times and cost factors to determine an optimal delivery
and says it will only be able to meet 50 percent of commit- plan for each request. Based on this constraint-sensitive
ment, an agile company quickly determines other sources fulfillment plan, companies can then issue execution orders
of supply and analyzes the economics of quicker modes of to different players and make a commitment to the customer.
transport—air freight, for example. It may even have to pass Proactive monitoring and analysis of threats: Agile
up customer orders if the margin doesn’t look promising companies continuously monitor the execution of the
against additional costs. When scenarios change, the different actions required to deliver the customer order.
company’s ability to perform “what-if ” analyses is critical. By doing so, they are able to maintain real-time visibility
The typical questions here are: “If I can’t supply it, what’s into order status and generate alarms when any of the
the cost to my company in lost sales? If we go into crisis milestones are missed.
mode to find alternative suppliers, will those costs enable Corrective actions: When there is potential for delay,
profitability or not?” All plans must be assessed in relation options such as using air freight, replacing the order with
to corporate objectives. an upgrade or allocating inventory differently are evaluated.
Post-mortems and performance management: Post-mortems and performance management: Agile
Obviously, the critical factors in a supplier’s ability to companies evaluate historical fulfillment data to find new
deliver to plan are keeping commitments and providing ways of speeding customer fulfillment while optimizing
early warnings when problems arise. The flexibility and fulfillment costs. Such data analysis helps them create
strength of the supplier’s own supply management process more effective corrective actions in the future and helps
enable both of these capabilities, so companies need to to reconfigure their supply chain management processes
probe their suppliers’ visibility into constraints and ability for greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.
to rapidly respond to variability. Here, again, the critical
question is not “why did this miss occur?” but “when did 6. Rapid business reconfiguration
you first know about this, what actions did you take and To move at the speed of business, agile companies
how will you improve your plan management process reconfigure their processes as well as their physical plants
such that this will not happen again?” and human resources. As the market changes, they might
continuously reconfigure their supply networks, inventory
5. Efficient delivery via closed-loop strategy, fulfillment strategy, product designs and many
fulfillment management more contributors to their success.
Order fulfillment is where the rubber meets the road How do they do this? Consider supply network design
in supply chain management. Can the supply chain deliver as an example. Agile companies establish a small group
orders reliably to customers’ expectations and promises? of experts whose full-time job is to evaluate alternative
What is the optimal path to fulfill the order? Typical order configurations. Typically, this group uses computer-based
fulfillment paths are rigid: If a product is manufactured in models of the network and continuously updates the
China, it will travel from the Chinese factory to the U.S. data—such as fuel costs—that support the network.
warehouse and from there to the channel’s distribution They then run optimization routines to determine
center and then to the retail store. But, increasingly, the ideal network to meet corporate objectives.
customers are demanding “direct ship” from the factory. Agile companies strategize how best to manage product
One way that companies address this quandary is by design and production, too. For example, printing on labels
responding to customer requests with commitments based rather than directly onto bottles allows companies with
on a firm, optimized execution plan. Agile companies global operations to hold off deciding which market to send
deploy “closed-loop fulfillment management,” where the products to—and which language to print on the label—
plan-do-check-act process is applied to fulfilling customer until demand trends become clear. Agile companies aggres-
orders. This process involves the following capabilities: sively deploy such postponement strategies to gain more
Fulfillment planning: There are multiple paths flexibility. They tune their supply networks, inventory strategy,
companies can take to fulfill orders. For instance, different fulfillment strategy, product designs and other associated
inventory locations can be tapped, and different transpor- policies sometimes 10 times as often as less agile companies.
tation modes can be deployed. The pathway may be more
complex when multiple line-items are requested, or when 7. Agile IT systems
a sequence of multiple activities must be performed to The processes described above need IT capabilities
meet the request. Agile companies are able to respond that are beyond what is typical in today’s corporations.
to complex order requests within seconds. They’re the processes of an agile company, integrating and
The fulfillment planning process takes into account synchronizing cross-functional capabilities across different
many factors—current inventories, latest supply plans, organizations and partners.
18 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
The obstacles to this integration and synchronization Root-cause analysis: The ability to determine the
are well-known in industry: Data critical for decision- causes of problems is a critical prerequisite for delivering
making often do not reside within the four walls of one on commitments. But how does this work? Let’s say sales
company. It’s difficult, for example, to gain visibility into are falling short of the demand plan. A process playbook
the data that show the status of one’s own inventory, not to determine the cause may include the following steps:
to mention that of the competition in the same channel. check to see if there was adequate inventory, then check
Even data that reside within one company are usually sales of similar items, then check competitor pricing, and
residing in different systems, with different formats so on. IT support to flexibly implement such workflows
and at different levels of aggregation. is a key enabler of rapid analysis.
Moreover, because IT systems have not been helpful to Planning and optimization: To achieve desired business
planning processes in the past, the spreadsheet is still the results, plans must be continuously updated with current
number one planning tool used in industry. But spread- knowledge of market demand and supply constraints.
sheets cannot be optimized globally, making the plan- Because plan synchronization across multiple entities
do-check-act cycle overly cumbersome and error-prone. requires a collaborative, iterative process among multiple
Yet, today’s requirements for synchronization and parties, it’s essential to have IT that supports flexible
integration call for systems and solutions that override the planning workflows. Optimization tools that evaluate
shortfalls of multiple systems owned by different partners multiple scenarios and suggest ways to minimize the
in the supply chain. The traditional approach of replacing impact of constraints are key to responding rapidly
legacy systems with one new, centralized system is also no to changing conditions and creating high-quality plans.
longer practical in terms of timeline or costs. Traditional Distribution of plan-execution tasks: We’ve discussed
approaches for data integration are also falling short of the importance of making the plan happen. Often, this
the current need for process synchronization. execution function is distributed among different organi-
Fortunately, there is a new class of systems that is zations and enterprises, requiring time-sensitive coordination.
rapidly becoming available. These new systems overlay Consider, for example, the customer order that contains
existing systems and provide support for the plan-do-check- multiple line-items that need to be sourced from different
act functionality required in today’s global business climate. suppliers and merged in transit to deliver a single shipment.
They also provide the flexibility to rapidly reconfigure The execution plan for this order will be handled by multiple
business processes. Here are the primary capabilities of parties—calling for solutions that can monitor and track
these new, agile systems: progress across multiple systems.
Visibility across multiple systems: Agile companies
know how important it is to be able to read and interpret Summary
critical data in different ways. Whether involved in plan- The concept of a closed-loop, plan-do-check-act cycle
ning, monitoring execution or analyzing root causes of is simple, yet powerful, and companies have embraced it
constraints and other variability factors, they strive to in theory since W. Edwards Deming’s articulation of the
refresh their data continuously. Potentially valuable data concept. But change is another matter. Creating a change
may come from a wide range of internal and external management process to bring about a new corporate
sources—point-of-sale systems, the Internet, pricing culture focused on agility requires a big commitment.
sheets, research companies, a company’s own databases Such commitments and the steps companies make to
and internal systems—and may come in forms ranging support them are not foreign to industry. When faced
from SKU numbers and product categories to specific with a challenge of variability in product quality in
product names. Modern visibility tools that overlay existing the 1980s, companies adopted a systematic approach to
data sources enable supply chain executives to tap into bring about process and attitude changes—Total Quality
multiple data sources, and then convert data to formats Management.
that are helpful in analysis. Similarly, now faced with huge inefficiencies caused by
Event management: A flood of data is difficult to variability in business operations, companies must make
handle, however. So an agile IT system acts like an intel- a similar commitment to applying closed-loop principles
ligent assistant, evaluating what events call for action from to the process of generating and executing business plans.
different levels of management at a company. Such “events” For most companies, the increased agility delivered by
might be a change in a competitor’s pricing or a rise in the such a program will yield more return on investment than
cost of a key component. Agile systems create a checklist any other program to improve efficiency.
of factors to monitor on a regular basis, such as the weather, (See related CASE STUDY on next page.)
competitive pricing or the price of oil. The timely notifi-
Contact: Sanjiv Sidhu is Cofounder of i2 Technologies, Inc. and
cation of events that have the potential to impact business Chairman of the Board (email@example.com).
allows for more rapid correction.
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 19
Managing Dynamic Demand in Electronics
The revenues of a global leader in semiconductor was a different story. Here, any forecasts were quickly out-
manufacturing had stalled over the last decade. The dated, resulting in unavailability of needed parts. Despite
company wanted to increase its market share, especially the complexity of the company’s business, its inventory
in the area of high-volume logic chips. One way to do control depended on just two main factors: the stage of
this was by improving its ability to deliver chips more completion to which products were built, and the locations
quickly than the competition. Explains Pallab Chatterjee, where they were stocked.
chief delivery officer at i2 Technologies, “In the high-
volume semiconductor market, the ability to deliver Adopting a postponement strategy
the right chip when the customer wants it is key to The solution was to postpone the last stages of product
getting the order and gaining market share.” manufacturing so that the company could delay making
This was no easy task, however. The company made decisions about the final form of work-in-process products
tens of thousands of different varieties of logic chips, and until demand trends were clearer. There are trade-offs to
demand was hard to predict, since few customers provided this strategy, however. Postponement is a compromise
forecasts. A customer might suddenly request 1 million solution. While it is quicker than build-to-order, it has
chips—and want them delivered in two days. In the past, higher inventory costs. It is also cheaper than build-to-
the company had negotiated delivery times, counter- stock, but not as fast on order fulfillment. Moreover,
offering five days instead of two, for instance. It had always postponement puts limits on the second inventory-control
been a leader in on-time delivery for these negotiated, factor—stocking location. While finished goods may be
deliver-to-promise dates, but now the goal was to sharply shipped to distribution centers near customers, “postpone”
increase on-time delivery to customer-request dates, work-in-process must be assembled and tested at upstream
without increasing inventory. Performance in this area facilities that are usually farther away, adding shipping
stood at almost 80 percent—not bad, but not good costs and slowing delivery performance.
enough to gain a more dominant market share. Despite these drawbacks, the postponement strategy
i2’s analysis revealed that while the overall volume of would provide far greater flexibility and bring the company
demand was quite predictable, constant changes in how closer to an optimal, demand-driven approach to inventory
demand was distributed among products and regions management. After implementing i2 Inventory Optimization,
challenged the company’s forecasting efforts. For instance, the company was able to calculate the many complex factors
changes in the demand mix meant shifting to products involved in managing its inventory. Working closely, i2
with different costs, production constraints or cycle times. and this manufacturer simulated different postponement
Or demand shifts among regions rendered previous stocking and stocking strategies. This involved segmenting products
decisions hopelessly outdated. The changes themselves in different ways—ranging from manufacturing constraints
were often small—perhaps a customer wanted a different to demand profiles—until the company found an inventory
part version, or to have more items delivered to one location management approach that optimized these factors.
than another—but keeping up with these many small Mindful that any performance gains would evaporate as
changes was too much for the semiconductor manufacturer’s soon as demand shifted, the company scheduled weekly
planning and inventory management capabilities. check-ups and adjustments to the strategy to ensure that
segmentation always tracked current demand.
Taking a demand-driven approach to Results exceeded expectations. Delivery performance
inventory management surged by 25 percent, almost double the simulation’s estimate
i2 quickly understood the root of the problem: that no for one-time gains. Notes Chatterjee, “The original process
fixed plan can accommodate dynamic demand. Manually had them negotiating with customers on delivery dates.
correcting mistakes as demand fluctuated, however quickly, Today, the semiconductor manufacturer is able to meet the
was not a viable, long-term solution. Instead, this company customer request date without negotiation more than
needed a more flexible, demand-driven approach to 90 percent of the time, without increasing inventory levels.”
inventory management that would continuously update Better still, the gains were immediate—unmistakable
the plan. i2 worked with the company to put in place an after one month—and reached new steady states only
inventory management system that would automatically four months later. Success metrics were off the charts.
adapt to changing customer demand on a continuous Inventory savings alone made the project’s ROI virtually
basis—not just once a year. i2 analysis showed that the semi- incalculable. Inventory Optimization delivered the
conductor manufacturer’s delivery performance was satis- speed and agility the company needed to keep up with
factory on fixed, predictable customer orders, but building changing customer demand.
to stock—for inventory or in anticipation of demand— –– Martha Craumer
20 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
by Hiten Varia
Now, new technology is achieving the advantages
of vertical supply chains without the costs.
To understand the advantages of virtual verticality shipping firms, the warehouse and overland transporta-
and why it is key to the next generation of supply chain tion—meant attention was diverted from designing and
management, it’s important to look at what was desirable manufacturing tires as efficiently as possible.
about a vertical supply chain, and what disadvantages
drove supply chains toward the horizontal model. The shift from vertical to horizontal
In the vertical supply chain that was the rule in the As the century progressed, most manufacturers divested
early 20th century, a typical manufacturing company themselves of non-core upstream and downstream activities.
owned the assets required for acquiring and processing Shipping, warehousing and transportation services were
raw material into a finished product. Most often, these contracted from specialists. Dealers and distributors handled
firms delivered the finished product directly to the waiting the downstream activities for the manufacturer. In short,
customer. Take, for example, a tire manufacturer. Typically, the supply chain shifted from vertical to horizontal.
it owned the rubber plantations and facilities where the Organizations focused on performing their core activities
sap was converted into a product used in the tire factories. as efficiently as possible. Information began to take the place
It also owned the ships, the overland transportation of assets. This new way of doing business became important
and the warehouses on the docks. This single owner- in the early 1950s, when the first commercial computers
ship created a vertical supply chain, lock-solid in its were delivered. Coordinating the easy flow of goods and
reliability for getting rubber to the factories. Once services in the supply chain using the unprecedented power
manufactured, the tires were sold through company- of computers increased efficiencies many-fold.
owned and operated stores. As information technology advanced, and client-server
Because the manufacturer had its finger in every architecture took the place of the mainframe, the use of
upstream and downstream activity, it had total supply computers proliferated exponentially. PCs became as
chain control. But a vertically integrated company like this ubiquitous as the clipboard had been. Information systems
paid a huge price for control. The depth of investment could now enhance operational efficiencies and controls in
necessary to run each link in the chain meant there was functional areas.
less likelihood of extra financial resources for new product Management innovation marked the 1980s with Total
development. And the time and energy it took to run all Quality Management and continuous process improvement.
the activities—managing the rubber plantation labor, the Michael E. Porter’s innovative concept of the value chain
22 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
spurred companies to look at their value-adding activities, and tightly coupled. Efficiencies began approaching the
such as logistics, production, sales and marketing and upstream predictability present in the vertical supply
support. Add to the equation the introduction of Stern, chains of old, yet without the extra assets.
Stewart & Co.’s economic value-added approach and
discounted cash flow, and companies began seeking ways The technology now exists to take
to cut assets and improve valuation in the stock markets. time-based competition to a level
This focus on value sparked the outsourcing trend as it has never been.
a way to reduce capital-draining assets.
The next evolutionary step lay in using these techno-
New technology enabled shorter cycle times logical advances to manage business processes. MRP, ERP
In conjunction with these new management strategies, and APS became part of the most revolutionary aspect
materials resource planning tools (MRP and MRP II) of supply chain management in the last century: business
were developed that enabled companies for the first time process management. The key to managing the supply
to compute material requirements based on what was chain had more to do with controlling process than with
needed to achieve sales forecasts. Just-in-time inventory chasing new software solutions. Although numerous tools
further helped organizations offload assets and decrease and solutions were developed to leverage new technology,
inventory. The expanded use of electronic data inter- what was lacking was an approach to leverage the new
change (EDI) helped shorten cycle time even more by tools. It was no longer enough to have supply chain
integrating trading partners through shared networks. data locked into unmalleable business processes, spread
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems helped across heterogeneous systems.
integrate supply chain transactions with the enterprise.
Advanced planning systems (APS) addressed the Rising customer expectations drive innovation
shortcomings of MRP and ERP through functional Besides the growing complexity of managing the links
optimization, resulting in dramatic improvements in in a global, horizontal supply chain, rising customer
supply chain efficiency and productivity. Based on the expectations, due to improved customer satisfaction, drove
theory of constraints, APS allowed accurate supply chain innovation. The lightning speed of processors and the
modeling and rapid concurrent planning—leading to the “get-it-now” nature of the Internet have raised consumer
design of specific data models and planning engines. expectations to a level where only the swiftest and most
Enter the World Wide Web and another exponential agile can compete. The New Economy has been replaced
advancement in supply chain management. Though by the Now Economy, as Max More said in The Real-Time
heralded as an unprecedented panacea for commerce, Enterprise’s foreword.
the Internet lost face with many when the dot-com bust In the next generation of supply chain management,
came. But visionaries were quick to note that it wasn’t the business process is beginning to be recognized for
the beginning of the end for e-commerce, but rather the what it truly is: a living system that must change in
end of the beginning. The bust signaled the experimental response to the world around it. And now the tools and
stage was over. systems for sensing and reacting in real time are at hand.
Starting with point-to-point and two-way communi- For the first time ever, the technology exists to take
cation, partner portals and expanded opportunities for time-based competition to a level it has never been.
partner collaboration, the Internet also linked trading Using extensible markup language (XML), Web
partners. The horizontal supply chain became integrated services and service-oriented architecture (SOA), supply
chains can move at the speed of business, not the speed
of software development. Hallmarking the next generation
is a new tier on the IT stack, a single platform that can
SCM Generations leverage vertical solutions, third-party applications, ERP
systems, legacy systems, componentized services and
common platforms. That platform is under development
now at leading software companies in the supply chain
space. At i2 it exists today as the i2 Agile Business Process
Platform (see page 24).
Contact: Hiten Varia is i2’s Chief Customer Officer and
Executive Vice President of its Greater Asia-Pacific Business Unit
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 23
By Emmanuel Sabourin
and Aditya Srivastava
The i2 Agile Business Process Platform
blends with a heterogeneous IT environment
and existing applications.
A massive reshaping of the global business landscape
is under way, driven by the combination of three
• Globalization, particularly the integration of large,
low-cost economies into the world’s supply-and-
The process-based platform and modular components
deliver the results that leading-edge businesses demand:
maximized profits and minimized costs. In addition, the
real-time or agile enterprise proactively identifies obstacles
and optimizes new business opportunities.
demand equation Leveraging nearly 20 years of best-of-breed innovation
• Technology, combined with the exploitation of the for evolving supply chain management business require-
networking and communications infrastructure ments, i2 is ushering in the next generation with its platform.
created in the late 1990s According to Gartner, “i2 is the only vendor in the
• Economic liberalization application market—not just the SCM market—that
Companies that hope to thrive in this new landscape has all of the architectural components needed to provide
have only one alternative—to adopt a new generation BPP (business process platform) capabilities to users.”
of business process management practices and solutions (“Vendor Rating: i2 Technologies Is Positioned for Supply
that enable them to manage their supply chains with Chain Leadership,” 11 August, 2005.)
flexibility and speed. The Agile Business Process Platform expands beyond
Such innovative processes and systems have become a basic technological and integration focus to offer the full
the defining feature of competitive advantage. What are benefits of a platform. Creating a technical platform of common
some of the characteristics of next-generation solutions? standards, tools, practices and components is not a new idea.
This article discusses the i2 Agile Business Process But until now, the scope of such a platform only incorpo-
Platform with a focus on its benefits: visibility into trans- rated data management and integration. The evolution and
actions and events in real time, and responsiveness with maturity of supply chain management solutions and related
an adaptiveness and agility never seen before. These are business requirements have dramatically expanded this scope.
no longer luxuries, but necessities as business process cycle The platform performs not just data or process integration
times are shrinking from days to minutes and the scope but the actual hosting and running of overall business
of supply chain processes has grown from a single processes, including integration with external applications.
operation to the entire extended supply chain.
Creating virtual verticality in the supply chain
Agility at the speed of business Through the use of business-oriented components and
Next-generation software that enables real-time enter- integration services, the Agile Business Process Platform is
prises is built with two key features: a standards-friendly transforming the integrated, horizontal supply chain into
and process-based platform, and modular, reusable com- a virtually vertical one (see article, page 22). Even with
ponents that can be tailored quickly into customized multiple trading partners, collaborators and enterprises, the
workflows that fit the specific business needs of any entire business process can now be built and managed on
organization. The need for agility has caused global one platform with a single user interface. Unlike traditional
supply chain management processes to reach a threshold integrated development environments, where several tech-
that can no longer be held within single engines. The nologically mismatched modules must be used, the i2 plat-
stand-alone engines of the last generation, responsible for form uses a single technology base, so it blends easily with
running basic processes, have become “componentized” a heterogeneous IT environment and existing applications.
assets that are incorporated into a platform designed i2 customers are already seeing the benefits of the Agile
with service-oriented architecture—business functionality Business Process Platform. One retailer reduced expedited
that is extracted, or componentized, from underlying freight by 20–30 percent and reduced annual carrying costs
existing applications as services that can be reused to by 2–3 percent. The entire solution was implemented in
build new applications. just 10 weeks. A multi-billion-dollar consumer-packaged-
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 25
goods company received $25 million in benefits by
eliminating stockouts and invoice disputes between Deployment of i2 Agile Business Process Platform
manufacturers and retailers, increased speed-to-shelf for
new products and reduced checkout errors in stores Choose Customer Order SOLUTION
Domain Fulfillment Next-Generation SCM Processes
through real-time data synchronization.
Choose Collaborative BUSINESS
Business Replenishment Business Workflows
Speed, quality and low-cost production Workflow Planning
A powerful engine and visual design are provided for
the assembly of business workflows. These tools allow the & Adapt Core Services
design, modeling, execution and debugging of workflows
Rapid ROI Cycles
from a single environment. By constructing a library of Integrate with Data Services PLATFORM
External Integration Services
business workflows on top of the Agile Business Process Applications
Platform, i2 solutions take components and libraries from
VMI/CMI Module OPTIMIZERS &
the technical level to the business-process level. Years of Enrich Demand Manager
Workflow with PLANNING
i2 Optimizers Replenishment Planner MODULES
industry experience have allowed i2 to crystallize patterns Demand Fulfillment
found in mature supply chain management practices and
to transform them into basic, logical workflows, which
permit streamlined assembly and reuse.
A fundamental aspect of next-generation supply chain nology difference introduced between external and internal
solutions is their focus on users. User interfaces (UI) must functionality, everything is managed from a common UI.
show richness, flexibility and ease of use. The i2 platform
provides an environment for developing a rich and flexible i2 Studio offers a single interface
UI, so users receive the right UI for the right job. The UIs One of the most advanced features of the platform is i2
are easily customizable to address diverse business problems; Studio. It provides an integrated development environment
they are not “one size fits all.” For example, Excel can be for modeling, testing, deployment and maintenance,
leveraged for interactive planning and reporting. WinForm allowing for top-down business process design as well as
can be used for transactional systems, and a Web browser can for bottom–up development and deployment of specific
be employed by casual users or users with limited access. The components, such as UI screens and business rules. Studio
UI services are easily extendable by customers and partners gives an integrated visual environment for managing data
(including business users), before implementation or after. models, business logic, workflows and user interaction. In
Another fundamental aspect of next-generation supply a nutshell, it offers a single interface for i2 solutions and
chain solutions is their ability to blend and integrate into facilitates knowledge management across all systems.
existing heterogeneous application landscapes. For example, Building applications in Studio ensures a high level of
within the context of a supply chain fulfillment solution, transparency and ease of configuration through no-code
a company may already handle order capture through an programming and configuration, and change management
enterprise resource planning (ERP) module and a Web- during and after the implementation. Studio can be used
based sales application. With componentization, it’s possible for data modeling and data-related workflows such as
to leverage existing order-capture mechanisms. In that master data management solutions as well as for rapid
perspective, i2’s integration services on the platform are prototyping of a solution.
designed with a double objective in mind: to simplify Speed, agility, quality and low-cost production are
deployment and to ensure that any evolution of an organi- critical for real-time IT success. Together, the combination
zation’s IT landscape, whether adding a new application of a business process platform and out-of–the-box
or changing middleware, will occur with ease and speed. componentized business content streamlines the delivery
Applying a service-oriented architecture for integration and adaptation of supply chain management solutions.
and infrastructure components ensures flexibility for future The end result is a platform that acts like a sophisticated
changes and makes new environments quicker to deploy development “factory” with standardized raw materials
and less expensive to develop and support. and processes, leading to virtual verticality, competitive
Seamless technology using integration services is lever- pricing and high-quality services.
aged both for external application integration, for example to
an ERP system, and for plugging in existing i2 solvers and Contact: Emmanuel Sabourin is a senior member of i2’s Solutions
Strategy Group. Aditya Srivastava is Senior Vice President of
optimizers. Integration with ERP systems such as SAP and
Research and Development (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Oracle is provided out-of-the-box. Since there is no tech-
26 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
Business Process Platform Helps
Major Retailer Stay Competitive
In spite of growing sales, a rise in the number of store In addition, to turn problems into useful information, the
openings and steadily increasing revenues, a major company needed to discern trends based on past performance.
electronics retailer was not satisfied with its supply chain
performance. In a company with hundreds of stores in the Introducing a rich solution built on a powerful platform
United States and Canada and with multi-billion-dollar Because of the growing volume of its product offerings,
annual revenues, it is not surprising that there was room the retailer needed a solution that was scalable, powerful
for business process improvement. And with a 40 percent and visible to multiple functions across the organization. It
increase in Internet sales, as well as growing customer needed to support more than 300 potential users, hundreds
sophistication, inefficiencies did not just mean lost revenue. of thousands of active SKUs, nearly 50 distribution centers,
They also spelled the potential for lost customers. 2,000 carriers, and thousands more vendors. With 3,000
With a complex, global supply chain, it was taking purchase orders and 5,000 loads being tracked daily, the
Logistics an unacceptably long time to track order-status retailer required a solution that could leverage disparate
requests from Purchasing. Part of the problem was that systems in transactional mode and in real time.
each department was using systems that didn’t communi- To accomplish this, i2 designed a solution using i2
cate with each other. When Purchasing asked about the Supply Chain Visibility, a comprehensive business applica-
status of an order number, Logistics needed the manifest tion that makes orders, shipments and inventory visible
number to track it. from a central interface. The application correlates supply
The cost of lost revenue and the added expense caused chain activities with out-of-bounds conditions that need
by these mismatched systems could be calculated—but action. And because the solution is built on the i2 Agile
the cost of customer dissatisfaction was immeasurable. Business Process Platform, i2 was able to quickly leverage
The disconnect was forcing the company to order and the platform’s flexibility to reconfigure solution workflows
stock more inventory “just-in-case,” and to unnecessarily and access existing data.
expedite shipping when there was inventory already According to i2 Director of Solutions Strategy Rajat
available. A study on logistics collaboration showed Bhargav, “Other [competitive] available solutions are just
that, on average, expedited freight comprises one fifth of technology platforms right now. None of them has supply
a company’s transportation costs. Through improved visibility chain solutions pre-built on them. To enhance business
and process and event management, this was clearly a competitiveness, organizations need a flexible system
cost that could be reduced. architecture along with a library of workflows that
leverage intelligent supply chain services.”
Creating visibility and automating some communications Using i2 Studio, the platform’s toolkit, i2 analysts
i2 analysts found that frustrating and ineffective worked with the company to model its processes.
communications between Shipping and Logistics could Supply Chain Visibility had the rich data models
actually be measured in man-hours. On average, 25 e-mails and modules that represented the retailer’s supply chain
or calls were exchanged per day regarding shipment status. operations and functions. It also provided complete
Each call generated 60 to 90 minutes of logistics research. visibility through the pipeline—from vendor to distribu-
Because data were spread across multiple silos—each tion center. With the platform’s integration services,
focused on a unique part of the company—analysts had the retailer could easily navigate multiple data sources
to navigate through multiple systems, e-mails and spread- across silos. It could customize best-of-breed workflows
sheets to track order and shipment status. Unsynchronized from the platform’s business-content library to respond
data meant decisions were made from outdated information. to specific needs. Because it was built on a platform, the
i2 analysts determined that the retailer needed a next- business-process visualization, user interfaces, configura-
generation solution with active monitoring, providing tion and execution were unified and easy to manage.
a “right-now” picture that could track all milestones and
detect plan deviations. This solution would have to enable Monitoring and managing exceptions
timely responses to current and potential deviations from i2 built exception management into the solution. The
the plan, and include the capability to automatically exception management was across the entire purchase-
invoke resolution workflows based on business rules. order life cycle—from the creation of a purchase order to
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 27
is a director in i2’s Solutions Marketing group. Collaborative Material Management
Contact: email@example.com. by Sharmistha Dubey
New Systems Enable Synchronization
Between Procurement and Material Planning
In most large companies, the purchasing and material or late orders, for example. Knowing what the alternative
planning functions are done by completely separate scenarios might be, and knowing how the customers
organizations, reporting to different executives and using would be affected by each, make possible a more agile
different metrics to measure performance. The process that response to inevitable change.
links the two functions is sequential, moving in a one-way
line from silo to silo. The process is like preparing a package, How the technology works
tossing it over the wall and never hearing anything more The technology behind Collaborative Material
about it. What’s needed to meet the demands of a Management combines current planning applications
global supply chain is a more collaborative approach. with the i2 Agile Business Process Platform, so that
i2 Collaborative Material Management is a solution that different generations of technology can function together
manages both procurement and material planning, in a synchronous workflow. The solution is designed to
merging the two organizations and their roles. In this work with multiple procurement systems, such as enterprise
collaborative scenario, individuals involved in the process resource planning or e-procurement systems, and with
are aware of all the other steps along the way, and can different kinds of systems from different vendors.
adjust their expectations based on real-time information
about the changing geography ahead. This solution applies “what-if” analyses
What makes collaboration necessary? Variability of to the consequences of any supply change.
supply. Today, when outsourcing global sourcing and global Collaborative Material Management takes the data
fulfillment are common in any large business, the supply from these potentially diverse sources and automatically
chain is subject to many more vagaries and challenges processes and converts them to requisitions and purchase
than in previous years. When a change occurs in the supply orders. Changes in forecasting can be reflected quickly
chain, managers need to know about it immediately. They in the actual workflow. This is a continuous process.
have to know how these changes will impact the whole Although some companies update their forecasts on
supply chain and what alternative sources of supply they a weekly basis, others may do it every couple of hours.
have available. How quickly they can respond to changes With visibility and constant feedback, changes percolate
makes the difference between being competitive and upstream, where they alter supply and demand planning.
being left behind. All of the information needed to make these changes
is provided. The level of automation is configurable,
Tying in supply and demand depending on a company’s business-process maturity.
Material managers need to have a clear window into Suppliers communicate through a supplier collaboration
every aspect of how both supply and demand may change, interface. A lightweight planning engine allows for scenario
so they can make a determination on the fly when planning and fast incremental planning in order to respond
a problem develops. Expedite? Be late? Find another to changes. In this way, the platform solution constructs
source? Or are there other alternatives? A fixed plan a continually updated global view of the whole supply
based on historical forecasts isn’t flexible enough to chain, and also the specific routes through the system
respond quickly to change. Managers need constant and that individual products take. Collaborative Material
immediate feedback, showing them where changes are Management correlates demand with the supply of each
occurring and what parts of the supply chain will be component and sub-component, and shows managers
affected. What product is this a component of? Which which customer orders will be affected by a particular
customer does it affect? Without visibility into every change, and what the effect will be. This is most useful
aspect of the supply chain, the answers to these questions to companies that have a broad supply base and see
come late, if they come at all. The result is significant cost variability in that base as a significant risk.
and a perceived lack of responsiveness.
Collaborative Material Management applies “what-if ”
Collaborative Material Management is part of the
analyses to the practical consequences of any supply
i2 Collaborative Supply Execution suite.
change: projected stock-outs, material shortages
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 29
Opinion by Michael Cohen
What Impact Will Radio Frequency Id
Have on Supply Chain Management?
Marc Osofsky Simon Langford
Vice President of Marketing and Product Management,
OATSystems, a leading supplier of RFID framework
The RFID supply chain market, see a lot of interest in using RFID to The largest benefit of RFID at
for the most part, has moved past the enhance promotion execution and new Wal-Mart remains improving the
science-experiment stage, and many product introduction. These are two in-stock availability of products and
companies are in active discovery areas that always attract a lot of invest- the efficiency with which we move the
mode of the business benefits of ment by consumer product companies, merchandise to the shelf.
applying RFID to their supply chains. and before RFID, there was no way to A recent study from the University
We’re in a healthy period, focused on efficiently measure their execution. of Arkansas documented in great
identifying the best applications of But now, the RFID technology and detail how our RFID systems and the
RFID technology and proving ROI. electronic product code (EPC) data
Early adopters are
The hype in the marketplace and they use improved our in-stocks.
the mandates by Wal-Mart, the Overall, total out-of-stocks in the 12
Department of Defense and others the systems that use the data provide RFID test stores were reduced by 16
have succeeded in reducing the cost an excellent foundation for applications percent. And the items tagged with
of radio frequency tags and readers that many thought were unreachable EPCs were replenished three times
and in pushing through the Gen 2 for years into the future. faster than comparable items using
standard very rapidly. Those have We are also seeing a lot of supplier- standard bar-code technology. That’s
been important developments. retailer collaboration around RFID an undeniable advantage.
RFID adoption rates have been in these areas of promotion execution We achieved these impressive results
accelerated due to the mandates. Many and new product introduction, as well with our initial system enhancements
companies that normally would be as for automated receiving. Some of that took advantage of the new data
laggards in adopting a new technology our consumer electronics customers are RFID readers collect, and we have
are now being forced to be early already having their suppliers tag com- many more refinements planned that
adopters. Some of those would-be ponent parts in consumer electronics will significantly improve our business.
laggards continue to take a wait-and- and are tracking the movement of We’re planning software enhance-
see approach and implement only products from Asia to the United ments that will improve our ability to
what they have to. But our experience States now that many shipping and move and manage merchandise; and
is that the top 20–40 percent of RFID transportation companies are starting we’ll see increased efficiencies from
early adopters are moving aggressively to offer RFID-enabled services. It’s greater use of RFID readers. That means
to make use of the new data to clear that the cross-enterprise, multi- installing readers in more stores, and
fundamentally change the performance echelon RFID supply chain market is adding new processes or enhancing
of key processes, and, by extension, emerging today where the business existing ones for using EPC data. For
the efficiency of their supply chains. case for it is clear. Over the next several example, later this year we will be
Consumer product companies, for years it should grow dramatically. deploying hand-held RFID readers to
example, are clearly leading, and we help our associates locate products in
30 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
entification (RFID) Technology
Manager of Global RFID Strategy, John Cummings
Wal-Mart Chief Marketing Officer,
i2 Technologies, Inc.
the back rooms of our stores. We will What RFID will do, and is doing Right now, the biggest investment
also be enhancing software to better in certain sectors, is create the data- in RFID is in the consumer products
manage promotional merchandise. rich supply chain (see cover story, page industry. It has been a labor play,
Eventually, we believe RFID will 10). Today we’re operating at the SKU- because with RFID, as opposed to
improve all parts of our supply chain. quantity level—we have 100 of an barcode scanning, you don’t have to
Today, our suppliers have visibility into item on a pallet. That’s how software actually touch or see each case or
all RFID-read data for their products. views the world. But with RFID, we pallet of merchandise. So it’s saving
We show suppliers every read as a case can see and capture data on each indi- labor costs. And of course Wal-Mart
passes a read point. This happens with- vidual item, and even the components is seeing significant gains in reducing
in 30 minutes. Through our online of that item. out-of-stocks by using RFID readers
communications system, suppliers So the richness of the data is impor- in their stores and their distribution
have visibility not only into RFID data tant for tracking and documenting the centers to manage inventory.
but also into many other data points history and movement of a specific Other retailers are following that
and information—such as sales and component. That’s how aerospace and lead. Instead of relying on point-of-sale
inventory data at each store—about defense companies operate—they have data, RFID gives these companies visi-
their products. Many are using the to know everything about every part in bility from the shelf to their distribution
data, but in different ways, depending their products. Today, no other indus- center, even back to some suppliers, so
on the business problem they are trying tries need to do that in their supply they can better manage their inventory
to solve or the visibility they desire. chains, but that is changing. and their in-transit merchandise.
Over time, we believe the avail- In Europe, for example, we’re see- At i2 we see the opportunity to
ability of these data and the visibility ing legislation that will mandate the develop applications that help companies
across the supply chain will yield “field-to-plate” standard for the food aggregate that data and improve their
significant benefits for our suppliers, supply chain. Companies will have supply chains. That’s an area we’re
ourselves and, more importantly, our to be able to trace every piece of working on today. The future aspects
customers. That’s why Wal-Mart food people eat to the factory, farm, of RFID extend further, across compa-
remains firmly committed to the and even the specific animal that it nies, back through the tiers of suppliers,
continued roll-out and enhancement came from. In the high-tech industry, giving everyone full visibility into the
of our RFID systems and the supply environmental regulations will have entire chain.
chain management decision processes a similar impact for companies that
they enable. We recognize, however, will need to trace and document the
that to achieve improvements in some source and ultimate destination of all Opinion interviews were conducted by
Michael Cohen, a contributing writer to
areas, we’ll need to reach a critical mass of the components of their products.
Supply Chain Leader. If you would like to add
of tagged product flowing though the RFID is the perfect vehicle to handle your comments to this discussion, please
system. That will take time. those mandates. send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 31
Razat Gaurav is Vice President of i2’s Global
Transportation and Distribution Industry Group Transportation Management
Contact: email@example.com. by Razat Gaurav
Best Practices in Global Logistics
The modern business landscape is marked by increasing outsource and which to keep in-house. They’re asking
levels of global sourcing—particularly from low-cost themselves: Is it strategic to develop in-house competencies
countries. While many companies across a variety of related to logistics network design, logistics sourcing and
industries achieve cost savings through this sourcing management, transportation capacity planning, global
strategy, the benefits are often offset by complexities shipment planning, visibility and event management?
associated with global logistics management. Should companies be outsourcing some logistics execution
Even though total supply chain costs may be reduced functions, such as conducting pre-booking and booking
by global sourcing, typically, transportation and logistics confirmation in ocean transportation, managing export/
costs have been rising as a percentage of the cost-of-goods- import customs clearance and document compliance,
sold (COGS). This has occurred as a result of rising fuel and warehousing and storage? Additionally, global
prices, the intrinsic costs of long-distance flow of goods multi-divisional companies are creating a shared-services
and transportation capacity imbalances—both for domestic organizational structure to procure, plan, execute, monitor
transportation in regions like North America, and for and measure global freight movements. Global logistics
international ocean and air freight from countries like China. organizations are evolving into “internal 4PL” business
Logistics is becoming a more strategic models to effectively manage and service the needs across
various lines of business and regions.
business function at companies where
it has not traditionally been a core
2. Establish strategic relations with logistics
competency. service providers and get alignment on
Supply lead times often have a high degree of variability, performance metrics
which can lead to poor on-time delivery performance, as Given global transportation capacity issues and the
well as unavailable products, components and merchandise. need for logistics service providers (LSPs) to provide high
The variability in lead times stems from many factors. levels of service, leading companies are elevating their
The global flow of goods requires multiple handoffs— relationships with the service providers to a more strategic
including various carriers, customs and port authorities, level. “LSP-friendly” programs are being developed to
and consolidators. And these handoffs increase the adopt more collaborative rate negotiation and bidding
probability of unexpected events. Growing import volumes, processes, provide forward visibility into logistics capacity
particularly from Asia, combined with important security needs and develop packaging that allows for easier handling.
concerns, have led to severe port congestion in North To streamline their customs clearance processes, top-
America and Europe. As companies conduct business in performing companies are leveraging customs brokers,
more countries, and as countries continuously change their freight forwarders and other third parties. They’re forming
regulatory and customs-clearance processes, delays occur long-term relationships with customs officials. Local
during document compliance assessment and processing. knowledge can serve as an important lever in avoiding
Leading companies are leveraging several strategies to delays and ensuring proper document compliance. Robust
respond to the complexity of global logistics management sets of global logistics metrics and key performance
in an effort to reduce transportation costs and improve indicators (KPIs) are being developed and implemented
service levels while still focusing on the “buy anywhere, to score-card LSP performance and continuously monitor
sell everywhere” business model. As a result, logistics is performance, as well as align payment terms to these metrics.
becoming a more strategic business function at companies
where it has not traditionally been a core competency.
Here are some key best practices for managing
1. Evaluate and determine the right global
logistics operating model
Companies achieving success in global logistics are
assessing and determining the right logistics operating
model, including identifying which logistics functions to
32 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
3. Deploy global visibility and exception- Given the need to deal with transportation capacity issues
management processes and systems as well as to maximize utilization of containers, they’re
Visibility into order and shipment life cycles is as now moving toward a more dynamic process—one in
critical as third-party partnerships in dealing with the which they can make decisions on ports and inland modes
complexities related to global logistics execution. By and carriers, and look for consolidation opportunities
achieving early visibility into exceptions and proactively across their international shipment volumes. Leading
alerting appropriate parties involved, companies can companies are dynamically evaluating options for doing
mitigate the negative impacts of handoffs and other merge-in-transit, leveraging hubs for pool distribution,
potentially delaying processes in global logistics. This doing trans-loading, and diverting-in-transit when
visibility and exception-management infrastructure needs appropriate to reduce cycle times and costs.
to extend across the various legs and milestones involved
in the global flow of goods. Visibility by itself is not a 5. Institute a continuous process for ongoing
silver bullet in solving all complexities related to global logistics network design and scenario analysis
logistics. Yet, when combined with intelligent exception To fully leverage the benefits of global logistics,
management, logistics planning and execution workflows, companies must continuously evaluate their global
this layer of global visibility can be a very powerful weapon logistics network and assess factors such as physical
in managing variability in the global flow of goods. distribution networks, lane structures, mode strategies
and capacity requirements. In the past, such exercises
4. Optimize the global flow of goods through were typically done annually or once every two or
intelligent routing and consolidation three years. However, the rapid pace of modern global
Companies that have large shipment volumes in business dictates a more frequent assessment of logistics
specific regions are taking greater control of international network design. With scenario planning, “what-if ”
transportation planning processes. Traditionally, most analysis and management, today’s companies can reap
companies have had fixed business rules to determine the full benefits and minimize the risks associated
routing for specific countries of origin and destination. with global sourcing.
Beyond Business by Victoria Cooper
Technology Empowers Relief Efforts
In 2005 the Aidmatrix Foundation, a spinoff of the Harvest and Adventist Community Services, it could hook
i2 Foundation, touched more than 50 million people glo- into a network of food banks during Hurricane Katrina to
bally with $1 billion in aid. That aid was delivered not ensure that donated foodstuffs from Kraft and similar
just in dollars, but in products and services and volunteer companies got to warehouses predestined for disaster relief
time. One of its biggest impacts was during Hurricane efforts and to the communities designated by the donors.
Katrina, as well as during the tsunami relief effort earlier And when some of these warehouses were washed away,
in the year, and in other U.S. hurricanes after Katrina. it could send staff to establish new systems in new ware-
“Aidmatrix is an example,” says CEO Scott McCallum, house spaces.
former governor of Wisconsin, “of what can happen when “The thing about disaster relief efforts is, despite how
you combine technology with real-time connection and much you plan or think you’re prepared, the catastrophe
caring. And it’s a new way of thinking about giving for
companies: giving better and faster, and not just in dollars.”
The benefit can surprisingly go both ways. As Aidmatrix
COO-Global Amy Luz, a veteran fundraiser and develop-
ment officer of such entities as the National Multiple
Sclerosis Society, the National Jewish Medical & Research
Center, and the Henry Ford Health System, explains:
“Our job is not just to provide technology and expertise,
but to catalyze an understanding among companies,
foundations, and non-governmental and governmental
entities about what can be done. We provide a bridge
between the giving organizations and the recipients,
but we’re really in the business of providing hope. And
employees of all sorts of organizations connect with that. can be so great that you need to make decisions on the
We know that companies not only want to give but need ground and adjust your plan on the fly,” says Thode. Six
to give. They want their employees to be proud of them Aidmatrix staff traveled to Louisiana when the Food Bank
and to know that they’re contributing as both community of New Orleans washed away and set up a new central-
and global citizens. It’s not just about the tax write-offs ized warehouse with Internet connectivity and Aidmatrix’s
and operational efficiencies.” warehouse management solutions. The Aidmatrix staff
collaborated with agency partnerships that were in place
Aidmatrix’s job is not just to provide
before the hurricane hit and used new, customized and
technology and expertise, but to
enhanced software developed to incorporate the learnings
catalyze an understanding about
from Hurricane Andrew more than a decade earlier.
what can be done. Laptops and offline versions of critical software and
Still, those count, and Aidmatrix also teaches companies Internet and cellular phone connectivity enabled the setups.
how to think of their donations of products as an exten- But it wasn’t just the hardware and systems that made the
sion of their supply chain. “We show manufacturers the warehouses work. It was the learning about relief processes
benefit that can come from donating their distressed and that has been ongoing over the past decade. How was the
obsolete or surplus inventory to aid efforts,” says newly established warehouse going to operate? Who was
Aidmatrix CTO and COO Keith Thode. How so? going to train volunteers? Who would interface with
“When we partner with a company, and Kraft is a good trucking companies? Who would pay for transport?
example, we help them optimize the donation process flow, “Relief systems have to incorporate these processes and
making it better for them to donate product than to throw be very easy to learn and operate,” says Thode. “We tested
it away. Now Kraft effectively has a button on its supply a new system on the ground in New Orleans; there was
chain system that says ‘donate’ as one of its options.” no time for review. The system showed great improvement
over what was in place at the time of Hurricane Andrew.”
Adaptability of systems Then, in 1993, six people from America’s Second Harvest
Because Aidmatrix partners with charitable organiza- spent the majority of their time managing donations of
tions that are key relief agencies, such as America’s Second food and consumer products into the area, thereby taking
34 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006
During Hurricane Katrina
themselves out of the loop for other hunger-relief
operations. In recent Florida hurricanes, these same Aidmatrix Offers More
processes were handled by only one person (250 truckloads than Disaster Relief
of product going to 17 locations) because of improved
processes and systems.
Founded in October 2000, Aidmatrix has developed
Handling volume several software platforms to help companies and relief
These customized systems are valuable because they agencies interact more efficiently and effectively
have a high capacity for data and data crunching and they in medical emergencies, hunger epidemics and
offer relief workers visibility into processes that need to be
Its systems enable:
• Donations Management
• Relief Exchange
• Warehouse Management
• Fundraising Management
Aidmatrix’s product/service array includes a volunteer
clearinghouse, product donations exchanges and clearing-
houses, and corporate employee and customer virtual-
The foundation has partnered with several
implemented and actions that need to be taken. It’s like
corporations to create these systems and processes
having the instruction manual open to the right page and
the instructor nearby for guidance. The warehouse solu- for relief of human suffering, its avowed mission.
tion employed during Katrina could also track product While i2 has donated supply chain software solutions,
and report back to donors in a matter of hours rather Sun Microsystems has offered its database technology
than days or weeks, showing that targeted donations had
and hardware, Macromedia has offered its platform
reached their destinations.
Since Katrina, the Aidmatrix warehouse management for fundraising development, ColdFusion has powered
tool has orchestrated more than 1.7 million pounds of some of the applications and Accenture has provided
humanitarian-aid goods in Louisiana and Texas. some of the funding needed. As CTO/COO Keith
Aidmatrix has mobilized millions of dollars through
Thode explains, one of the success factors of Aidmatrix
its virtual-aid drives at companies, some of which
was raised through a special portal set up by the U.S. is that “it has good source product from leading
Chamber of Commerce. The solutions have orchestrated industry players, and our developers either customize
more than 30 million pounds of food aid for distribution or configure those products to the needs of the relief
by food banks in 34 Gulf Coast communities affected
efforts we focus on.”
by Katrina and Rita. More than 16 new corporate
donors are utilizing Aidmatrix’s Relief Exchange appli-
cation to transform unneeded supplies from what would
have been land-fill to life-affirming humanitarian aid. For a list of Aidmatrix partners—both giving and
Advanced systems and improved processes in receiving—see www.aidmatrix.org. To
these efforts free up the people resources on the explore how to become a partner, please contact
ground to focus on making judgments and decisions Melis Jones, Vice President for Business Development,
as circumstances change, one of the critical capabilities at firstname.lastname@example.org.
still under scrutiny and development in disaster relief.
Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006 35
Inside i2 by Mike Berry
2005 Recap: Focus on Financial Stability
i2 had a very busy year in 2005, with one of its key By the end of 2005, i2 had recorded three consecutive
initiatives to improve financial stability. The company quarters of solid operating profit. Despite cutting operating
closed 2005 with a much stronger balance sheet and expenses by approximately $80 million over 2004, total
renewed confidence in its financial future. It executed operating revenue grew 2 percent year-over-year. The
its financial and business turnaround in three quarters, primary driver of this growth was from i2’s software
improving its capital structure and easing fears solutions revenue, which increased 67 percent over
surrounding its financial viability. that of 2004.
The turnaround got its start with a 1-for-25 reverse split All of these events were critical to i2’s enhanced liquidity
of i2’s common stock in February. The reverse split helped position. At the end of 2005, total cash balances, including
meet the requirements for re-listing on the NASDAQ restricted cash, were $117.7 million. This cash balance is
National Market, and i2’s stock was re-listed under the greater than total debt by $17 million. Of current debt
symbol ITWO on July 21, 2005. balances, only $25 million is due by the end of 2006, and
In the second half of the year, i2 divested two non-core the remaining debt is due in 2015.
business units, Trade Service Corporation and Content What a difference a year makes! While there are still
and Data Services. Although these were both good busi- challenges, i2 starts 2006 with a solid financial position,
nesses, they were no longer strategic to i2’s plans to be the including a new capital structure, consecutive quarters of
leader in next-generation supply chain management solu- operating profitability, positive operating cash flow in the
tions. There was some minor dilution in i2’s earnings last quarter and a streamlined cost structure.
stream, but additional cash proceeds of approximately In 2006 i2 will continue to focus on operational excel-
$32 million were realized as a result of these divestitures. lence, increasing market share and becoming the leader in
Some of the biggest changes to i2’s balance sheet next-generation supply chain management solutions. i2
revolved around the restructuring of our capital structure. will seek continued efficiency in selling and strategic ways
During the second half of 2005, i2 redeemed $285 million to grow the business, so that we can continue to deliver
of the remaining $310 million of its 5.25 percent convertible results that our customers, partners and employees deserve.
subordinated notes and $6.8 million promissory note.
This was critical because these notes are due on Contact: Mike Berry is i2’s Chief Financial Officer
December 15, 2006.
Supply Chain Leader
Vol. 1 No. 1 Spring 2006
i2 Director of Researchers Pallab Chatterjee – Kelly Thomas –
Corporate Communications Kalaiselvi Saravanan Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President and
Amy Craven Sreeharsha Gopalakrishna Solutions Operations, and General Manager, Automotive,
Jayanthi Chander Chief Delivery Officer Aerospace and Defense,
Hiten Varia – Industrial, and Metals groups
Victoria Cooper Production Artist Executive Vice President, Beth Elkin –
Art Director Greater Asia Pacific Region, Public Relations Director
Peter Klabunde Editorial Advisory Board and Chief Customer Officer Tom Smithyman –
Sanjiv Sidhu – John Cummings – Senior Director,
Contributing Writers Chief Marketing Officer Customer Programs
Founder and Chairman
John Berry Jim Caudill –
of the Board
Lauren Bossers Vice President, Copyright 2006
Michael McGrath –
Michael Cohen Solutions Marketing i2 Technologies, Inc.
Chief Executive Officer
Martha Craumer Aditya Srivastava – Also available at www.i2.com.
John Kadlecek Senior Vice President,
Barbara Stinnett – No portion of this magazine may be
Patrick Mulvanny Research and Development reproduced or republished in whole or in
Executive Vice President and
part without written permission from the
Chief Customer Officer Vasu Rangadass – Director of Corporate Communications
Vice President, Development (email@example.com).
36 Supply Chain Leader / Spring 2006