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Lilly Software Visualizes Its eBusiness Offering, NOW

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: November 14 2001

Lilly Software Visualizes Its eBusiness Offering, NOW
P.J. Jakovljevic - November 14, 2001

Event Summary 

On October 16, Lilly Software Associates (LSA) (www.lillysoftware.com), a privately held enterprise applications provider for small and medium sized manufacturing and distribution enterprises, announced VISUAL eBusiness™ version 3.0, the latest release of its online solution designed to help businesses streamline processes, improve productivity and increase efficiencies through the use of Internet technologies.

Simultaneously, Lilly also released VISUAL eBusiness NOW, a new application service provider (ASP) option that should deliver speed, flexibility, and affordability through Web hosting. Version 3.0 supports business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions for both make-to-stock (MTS) and make-to-order (MTO) environments. It is an extension of Lilly's ERP and warehouse management system (WMS) products, allowing manufacturers and distributors to post catalogs and pricing information on the Web. The self-service features of the application allow customers and distribution partners to view pricing, order status, product features, and product availability.

Lilly believes that, with the opportunity to implement the application either through an integrated module within the VISUAL product suite or via Lilly's new ASP option, manufacturers and distributors can easily get started with their e-business initiatives.

This is Part One of a two-part note discussing Lilly Software's recent announcements. Part Two will discuss the Market Impact of the announcements and make User Recommendations.

Product Details 

Lilly Software is offering both a Foundation and an Extended Edition option for VISUAL eBusiness version 3.0. Lilly includes the foundation module with its core functionality in the VISUAL Enterprise product suite. This module provides VISUAL users with the essential features to quickly set up storefronts and allow their customers access to product listings by category, product searches, product pricing, detailed parts specifications and part availability, as well as lists of substitute and cross-selling items.

For manufacturers and distributors who want more advanced features, Lilly Software encourages its users to purchase VISUAL eBusiness Entended Edition. This package complements the Foundation capabilities, allowing companies to further customize their sites and post customer-specific promotional items, identify top-selling items, assign shopping carts and personalize shopping experiences to individual preferences. Other features include enhanced searching capabilities, shipment tracking capability, increased security and an account management option. Extended Edition enables online customers to create multiple wish lists of items, request for quotations (RFQs) and estimates, and provides options for a configurable view and express entry. These features should empower customers by allowing them to control their shopping experience.

With VISUAL eBusiness NOW, companies reportedly receive: (1) the latest release of VISUAL eBusiness software, (2) ASP Web hosting from Lilly Software for their integrated VISUAL eBusiness solution, and (3) bundled consulting services to help them configure the site to their needs. Lilly Software claims to provide the software, the hosting and the consulting for an affordable monthly fee, enabling VISUAL users to jumpstart their e-business strategy at low risk and low cost. VISUAL eBusiness NOW may allow companies to focus on their business while having Lilly Software manage the Web-based application. Manufacturers and distributors have a variety of other hosting options available to them with the VISUAL eBusiness software, including:

  • ASP hosting by a Lilly Software Sales Associate Organization

  • ASP hosting by an external Internet Service Provider (ISP)

  • Internal hosting within their own company site

Lilly cites that by selecting its hosting services, companies should take advantage of secure communications, fully automated virus protection, tape backup procedure, remote file storage, monthly site statistical reporting, usage trend reports and 24/7/365 system support. From its center, Lilly's expert technology staff will maintain company sites, keeping information confidential and safeguarded. The data center pledges to provide high performance server solutions, security detection via redundant, load-balanced firewalls, backup CAT generators with unlimited fuel capacity, strict physical security and reliable environmental controls.

Company Strengths 

Although not achieving the growth of the golden late 90s lately, Lilly remains profitable and without a long-term debt, while investing heavily in R&D (33% of revenue) and consequently rounding up a compelling product portfolio for its target market. After almost a decade of serving the small-to-medium end of the discrete manufacturing and distribution market with one of the first Windows-based manufacturing software solution with a graphical metaphor, Lilly has a good handle on what these companies are looking for - a reasonable pricing, software solutions that return results quickly, and rapid implementation timeframes.

Lilly Software's financial success and double-digit revenue growth until recently have been attributable to the understanding of the requirements of SMEs that wish to acquire most of their business applications from a single source. Also positively impacting the sales of its flagship product suite, VISUAL, has been its intuitive graphical user interface (GUI).

LSA's VISUAL Manufacturing suite is a shop floor oriented ERP system with embedded finite scheduling and constraints management in mind. Its advanced planning and scheduling (APS), which is based on concurrent scheduling of materials and capacity, has been patented with the US Patents. Focused on make-to-order (MTO) manufacturing, the product also features strong built-in manufacturing execution system (MES) capabilities.

Another notable difference with VISUAL is the ability to use metrics and tools not found in almost any other ERP system to manage throughput in an orderly way to increase customer service and profit on a period-by-period basis. Consequently, with its intuitive and easy-to-use graphical nature, the VISUAL suite enables companies to capture accurate, real-time data about their plant-level business processes using ERP, E-Business, finite scheduling, MES, Quality Management, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and WMS capabilities.

The big recent license driver has been VISUAL CRM, part of the VISUAL Manufacturing suite. The product supports marketing campaigns, sales force automation (SFA) tools, product configurator, call center, and customer service functions, and it is fully integrated with the rest of the VISUAL product components. While one can refer to those as basic CRM functions, the SME market should appreciate the native integration. As a result, field service can, e.g., be scheduled from within the core ERP system, which is able to display availability of field service resources and repair parts.

At the beginning of 2001, Lilly introduced VISUAL Jobshop, an integrated manufacturing solution for small, entrepreneurial companies. While the company has been reaching down-market with Jobshop, it has also been attempting to expand up-market by adding capabilities to support multi-site manufacturing and distribution customers. To that end, Lilly features the software that supports the needs of distribution companies with its VISUAL Distribution product. While many peer ERP products support picking and putting away requirements, a vast majority of them do not have the ability to manage an order that might require kitting, assembly, or light manufacturing in the distribution center.

Recently, the company also released VISUAL DCMS, a radio frequency (RF)-enabled warehouse management system (WMS). The primary enhancements focused on expanding lot, serial number, and expiration date tracking capabilities. New functionality also includes support for third-party logistics (3PL) providers.

Another notable new offering is VISUAL TMS (transportation management system), designed to facilitate the shipping process - by bidding rates from multiple carriers, it may significantly reduce the freight cost. Also, customers can track orders' status in an end-to-end fashion - from order management, via the factory plant, to the transportation. The stand-alone nature of the Distribution and WMS products expands the company's opportunity well beyond its manufacturing stronghold.

This concludes Part One of a two-part note on Lilly Software Recent Announcements. Part Two discusses the Market Impact and makes User Recommendations.

 
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