and Dash Associates Team Up
S. McVey - September
Intentia, the third largest enterprise software vendor in Europe, and UK-based
Dash Associates have teamed up to enhance the capabilities of Intentia's optimizer
by the incorporation of XPRESS-MP modeler and optimizer components. The collaboration
aims at providing highly accurate solutions to complex, real-world planning
problems in the shortest possible times. Intentia plans to have integrated XPRESS-MP
into its supply chain management functionality as early as the end of 1999 (70%
collaboration mirrors a long-standing trend in the enterprise marketplace in
which vendors with broad-featured product suites partner with best-of-breed
technology shops in order to impart a degree of depth to one or more aspects
of their suites. A more familiar example is SAP's 1998 investment in ILOG S.A.,
in which the ERP giant acquired a 5% stake in return for the use of ILOG's advanced
algorithms in its APO supply chain suite. Companies like Dash and ILOG have
created a market in licensing advanced algorithms to larger ERP and SCM (Supply
Chain Management) vendors. The interaction is symbiotic in that:
Intentia gains best-of-breed optimization functionality
to complement its Movex supply chain management and APP (Advanced Production
Planner) applications and improves its marketability. Well-known in Europe,
Intentia may become more attractive to North American companies provided
that the integration is successful; optimization tends to be a strong differentiator
among enterprise software vendors.
Dash Associates obtains additional capital for pursuing
acquisitions of its own and/or funding internal development projects.
As any mathematician
will confirm, optimization routines produce a truly "optimal" result only in
a very limited set of circumstances - few, if any of which arise in real-world
situations. Frequently, it is necessary to combine rigorous LP, IP, and MILP
algorithms with some sort of heuristics ("rules-of-thumb") that serve to "nudge"
the algorithms to a solution that, while not a true optimum, is "good enough".
Otherwise, routines would doggedly search through the near infinite number of
possibilities, failing to ever produce an adequate result. Advanced algorithms
are being used more and more by software vendors to enhance their functionality
and thereby, the attractiveness of their products. Users need to be sure that
the state-of-the-art optimization routines touted by the vendor are usable in
that they can solve real, complex planning problems within a feasible period.
LP - Linear
Programming: Algorithms designed for problems involving real numbers, i.e.,
quantities that must be expressed using fractional values. Examples: cost, weight,
IP - Integer
Programming: Algorithms designed to solve problems involving only integers,
i.e., discrete units. Examples: "widgets", orders, days.
Mixed Integer Linear Programming: combination of IP and LP.