Manhattan Partnership With E3, MarketMAX Strikes Compromise

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Manhattan Partnership With E3, MarketMAX Strikes Compromise
S. McVey - July 28, 2000

Event Summary

Manhattan Associates has struck a deal with E3 Corporation and MarketMAX that symbolizes the eternal struggle between best-of-breed and ERP vendors. The joint initiative, named Retail Dimensions, will leverage solutions from each partner to deliver a collaborative best-of-breed retail solution for optimized multi-channel customer fulfillment. Retail Dimensions is already available in Europe and encompasses key parts of the planning and sales cycle including range planning, supply chain optimization, warehouse management, optimum distribution center replenishment, route planning, store replenishment and merchandise management.

Retail Dimensions is designed to leverage the core products from Manhattan, E3, and MarketMAX, offering advanced inventory management, merchandise planning, transport planning/operations, and warehouse management functionality. The trio makes the claim that the combination cannot be obtained from an ERP System.

"With the increasing pressure of competition on retailers, they need more than ever to be able to control their business with maximum efficiency," said Andrew Blatherwick, European President at E3 Corporation. "However, this desire can often be at odds with the IT Department's goal of one system running the business, sometimes referred to as 'one version of the truth.' Collaboration between best-of-breed suppliers aligns these two conflicting visions."

Market Impact

Though the combined solution professes to address problems of both, it is at best a compromise. Corporate IT departments intent on having "one version of the truth" will likely still look toward vendors like SAP, i2 and especially Oracle, which can offer just about everything in terms of functionality and, in Oracle's case, the technical solution aspects as well. The Manhattan-E3-MarketMAX consortium is not significantly different from other complementary solution partnerships such as that between Adexa and Commerce One.

ERP vendors can also form alliances to fill gaps in their offerings and generally have more resources at their disposal and greater influence in the software marketplace. There are some factors in the tripartite alliance's favor, however. For one, E3 is a strong member of VICS, the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Standards organization that has published detailed procedures for CPFR (Collaborative Planning Forecasting and Replenishment) and CTM (Collaborative Transportation Management). Its commitment to these standards and the touch rate with users it enjoys through VICS give it a leg up in terms of credibility.

Another point is that the partners are indeed best-of-breed and, while this does not guarantee their solutions will work effectively in concert, it does mean that users will benefit from a depth of functionality that is typically absent from ERP suites.

User Recommendations

Users should view Manhattan's collaboration with E3 and MarketMAX as a positive step but should carefully scrutinize the details of the arrangement prior to allowing it to influence a buying decision. Questions to ask include whether a standard interface will be developed to facilitate implementations or will integration be done on a "one-off" basis. If the former occurs, users should be sure the interface is implemented as a true API that will be supported and updated for future releases. If the latter is true, users should understand what additional software packages, such as EAI, will be necessary for making the integration and what the projected costs will be.

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