JDA FOCUS 2012: A Real-time Cloud to Serve the “Connected Consumer”

The main theme from the recently held JDA FOCUS 2012 conference (I could not attend in person, but JDA Software kindly briefed me) was that the leading supply chain management (SCM) software company is aggressively moving to the cloud and managed information technology (IT) services. (To be clear, JDA is not yet moving into managed logistics fulfillment services, unless we are unaware of some partner offering). But this move towards more packaged and hosted offerings and away from the heavily customized projects of the past has been hinted at during the last two conferences, and is not a major surprise.

‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬In addition, the conference confirmed that the roadmaps for heritage JDA products and acquired i2 Technologies and Manugistics products are converging. Here are a couple of concrete product deliveries highlighted during the conference:‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

  • JDA 3D—a new integrated category optimization and three-dimensional (3D) virtualization solution. JDA 3D embeds the Red Dot Square visualization technology that is integrated with JDA’s space and floor planning Intactix offering. In other words, the new offering takes the data from JDA Intactix and plugs it into the 3D environment created by Red Dot Square. The product’s concept and deliverables are similar to those of Oracle Advanced Visual Technologies (AVT) and Dassault Systèmes 3DVIA Store.
  • JDA Assortment—a merchandising solution that combines consumer purchase preferences, in-depth analytics, complete assortment lifecycle planning, and sizing and pre-pack optimization into one simple, easy-to-use workflow. The offering is a best-of-both-worlds mixture of former JDA and i2 assortment capabilities, and competes with similar powerful offerings from SAS, SAP (HANA-based analytics), and IBM.

Retail has always been JDA’s industry of focus (see figure 1), and these announcements confirm its standing, with support from some recently acquired and partnered applications. Some products from former Manugistics and i2 have contributed to the JDA Shelf-Connected Cloud solution suite, which enables manufacturer and retailer trading partners to collaborate at the shelf level for enhanced competitive advantage and performance. JDA’s Shelf-Connected Cloud, which among other pieces includes JDA 3D and JDA Assortment, improves the flow of information from the retail point of sale (POS) back to consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers.

Figure 1. JDA Retail Portfolio

Retail Maturity Evolution

Most recently, JDA’s focus has been on helping retailers accommodate “connected, always-on” consumers, which are now the driving force in retail (see figure 2). As JDA outlined its strategy and vision in a press release in early 2012, “the information [consumers] need to make a buying decision can be found in mere seconds and shapes what they buy, when and where they buy it, and at what price. Empowered and emboldened, these connected consumers expect personalized relationships and offerings delivered through flexible options” (see figure 3).

Figure 2. Retail Maturity Model

Figure 3. New Customer Expectations

JDA believes that these trends require a new approach:

one that allows retailers to attract, win, and keep profitable customers. It starts with retailers understanding the urgency of the situation and the need to quickly adopt the following strategies:

  • Manage with a consumer (rather than a product) focus
  • Adopt a culture that offers a seamless, consistent cross-channel experience
  • Gain a multi-dimensional view of the customer
  • Eliminate ineffective and disjointed planning processes
  • Respond quickly to consumer demand with an agile and optimized supply chain


Retailers seeking customer-centricity in every interaction must consider the following issues:

  • The increasing frequency and scope of demand shifts within planning cycles, which commands intelligence and interaction during execution to ensure customer satisfaction and profitability
  • How to deliver endless aisles—sourcing and delivering from the broadest network in real time to offer greater assortment flexibility and to cement loyalty
  • The need to empower store associates with customer, product, and availability information that is equal or superior to that accessible to consumers, allowing for increased customer satisfaction [see figure 4]
  • Inventory allocation flexibility and utilization control to meet growing demands

Figure 4. Mobile for Store Associates

JDA’s consumer-connected retail approach, enabling retailers to successfully serve today’s wired consumers, is “built on the simultaneous management of the customer experience, the product lifecycle, and channel synchronization. These three inter-related strategies drive a company’s ability to effectively plan, execute, and satisfy customers.”

JDA Customer Engagement Cloud: Some Concrete Product Delivery at FOCUS 2012

Prior to the FOCUS 2012 conference, JDA Software at the National Retail Federation (NRF) BIG Retail Show in January 2012 launched the blueprint for JDA Customer Engagement Cloud. The idea behind this offering is to balance profitability and customer satisfaction. FOCUS 2012 provided the opportunity to see the product in action. Retailers can convert “connected” shoppers into buyers if they can provide consistent experience, access, and brand image for customers. To that end, JDA Customer Engagement Cloud captures customer interactions across multiple channels—mobile, e-commerce, partners, social media, and store—to understand cross-channel customer preferences.

This capability then leads to mobile empowerment of consumers as well as store and field associates through real-time access to customer details, including universal cart, purchase history, and order details (see figure 5). The associates that know their customers well can answer product questions in a more knowledgeable and confident way and access inventory availability globally, thus increasing sales and better completing their tasks in general. 

Figure 5. Mobile Empowerment

One of JDA’s main competitors, RedPrairie, having acquired Escalate Retail 2011, now provides an all-channel commerce platform for managing customer interactions (engagement) across every conceivable customer touch-point (i.e., e-commerce, call center, store, kiosk, mobile, etc.). While not necessarily covering all the bases that RedPrairie does, JDA nonetheless can fulfill orders across a number of retail channels (customer touch points) and fulfillment methods in its “omni-channel commerce” offering.

Figure 6. Order Management

The old way of retailing was to have disconnected customer, inventory, and order management systems. For the order capturing needs, the call center workflow capability was repurposed from i2’s renowned Order Sequencing & Slotting product for manufacturing to be used within the retail context, based on JDA’s vast industry experience and knowledge (see figure 6). Flexible, data-driven product catalogs are delivered from a single source in the application, whereas simplified order delivery splitting aims to ensure customer satisfaction while maintaining profitability.

In other words, JDA Customer Engagement Cloud integrates formerly disconnected systems to provide a single seamless customer order management experience. It also enables third-party direct-to-consumer fulfillment if necessary, and many more order facilitation alternatives (see figure 7). The capability for consumer store pickup accommodates multiple buying strategies—e.g., whether the consumer needs all or part of the order immediately or later, etc. As retailers continue to struggle with synching up their online and bricks-and-mortar businesses, these multichannel fulfillment capabilities became increasingly important.

Figure 7. Order Facilitation

Who Has the Most Complete Retail SCM Offering (and Does It Matter, Yet)?

Contrary to Manhattan Associates and RedPrairie, JDA does not provide it own warehouse management system (WMS). So how is JDA able to truly provide a “buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere” experience without having own fulfillment (execution) solutions? RedPrairie also touts its capabilities in labor management and task management in warehouses and retail stores, but JDA has the former Timera Retail Solutions (now JDA Workforce Management) product for some of those capabilities. JDA admits the lack of its own WMS, but the vendor points out that hardly any retailer will have all of the products from the same vendor, and the lack of WMS capabilities might be moot if you know how to integrate.

Single-vendor retail SCM solutions are not currently feasible—traditionally, retailers have preferred some level of customization and have strong in-house integration teams. Since retailers are used to picking and choosing their solutions from multiple vendors and require best-of-breed (BoB) WMS and workforce management (WFM) capabilities, maybe they don’t really need a “one-stop-shop” offering. At any point in time, a retailer will have different needs. Once the company closes a functional gap (e.g., store labor and tasks), it moves on to the next issue.

What JDA Can Talk Up

JDA has superior retail pricing optimization and multi-echelon inventory optimization (MEIO) capabilities, which are not really present in the offerings by its competitors. Thus, JDA Customer Engagement Cloud utilizes real-time MEIO to create profitable-to-promise decisions to still satisfy customers (via a JDA-patented profitable promising algorithm). Real-time MEIO provides the ability to look across the network and leverage inventory more effectively (by taking into consideration incoming inventory and inventory thresholds), to deliver significant inventory reductions while improving service levels.

Instead of handling inventory in the traditional way, segregated by channel, JDA Customer Engagement Cloud allocates inventory based on demand forecast and dynamically adjusts to reflect shifting demand and supply. Needless to say, it supports cross-channel fulfillment from a single distribution center (DC).

Moreover, JDA Customer Engagement Cloud throws out manual decisions based primarily on cost, which delay deliveries on contractual agreements, to hail the new approach: selecting optimal shipping location based on profitability factors including costs, shipping, price, timeliness, and strategic variables such as customer priority (see figure 8). The product also offers consistent price execution across channels, as opposed to the outdated practice of determining price by each channel (to the dismay and irritation of customers). The system takes into consideration store promotions, time-limited promotional campaigns, dynamic price groups, customer loyalty pricing and promotions, coupons, and consumption management. It also protects margins by guiding store associates who are asked to match prices on the fly.

Figure 8. Optimization


Until one retail SCM suite can consistently win, it will be a BoB world, and most vendor marketing will be just noise. Still, it can only help a vendor to be able to offer most (or perhaps all) of the requirements on its own can. If RedPrairie and Manhattan Associates can make JDA’s lack of WMS an issue, they could play it to their advantage in some competitive situations.

A combination of JDA and Manhattan Associates, RedPrairie, or HighJump would go a long way. To my mind, JDA needs to tightly partner for or buy the supply chain execution (SCE) capabilities. In theory, retail enterprises can already get almost everything from one enterprise vendor, and it’s called SAP, IBM, or Oracle (and perhaps Infor and Epicor). But there is room for one more megavendor in the SCM space. JDA should go that last mile and manage the entire SCM process.

References and Recommended Reading

Successful Cross-channel Retailing: 4 Concepts to Master. May 28, 2012.
SAP SCM—Stepping Out of Obscurity. February 28, 2012.
RedPrairie: Enabling End-to-End Supply Chains (from Manufacturer to Retail Shelf). December 29, 2011.
JDA FOCUS 2010 Impressions – Part 2. September 7, 2010.
A Tale of a Few Good SCM Players – Part 4. November 4, 2009.

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