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Optum Unveils Tradestream For Collaborative Fulfillment

Written By: Steve McVey
Published On: July 20 2000

Optum Unveils Tradestream For Collaborative Fulfillment
S. McVey - July 20, 2000

Event Summary

Supply chain execution vendor, Optum, Inc., recently released TradeStream, a new Internet application that is intended to provide customers and suppliers with the means to eliminate excess inventory and increase working capital. The application leverages the web to tie together existing transactional systems to capture, coordinate and manage product inventory information throughout an enterprise and its suppliers, distributors and customers. TradeStream aggregates fulfillment data and processes across enterprises in real time, removing barriers to visibility so companies can trade information for inventory. According to Optum, "this allows companies to best deploy product and other resources (wherever they are - whether the company owns them or not) to meet customer demand."

TradeStream is composed of a central data repository that aggregates order and inventory information from ERP systems, legacy applications and web storefronts, and Java-based applets that leverage this data to reduce inventory and aid customer fulfillment.

Market Impact

Filling warehouses was once the only method of ensuring prompt customer delivery, however keeping large physical inventories is costly, especially in those cases where goods cannot be sold and wind up as scrap. TradeStream endeavors to eliminate excess inventory and reduce the incidence of obsolete goods, in effect, by substituting visibility across warehouses for buffer inventory. Few would have predicted, back when ERP and SCM systems began to appear, that these applications were somehow flawed in their conception, stingily barricading data within proprietary databases. Systems integrators and, later, EAI vendors emerged to address this apparent design flaw, but finally vendors are introducing intelligence into the integration of data from different systems.

With TradeStream, Optum succeeds admirably in concept, but it is difficult to say whether it will win out among other vendors taking similar steps. Among the other vendors clamoring to release software that spans multiple applications are those in the so-called Supply Chain Event Management (SCEM) market. Saltare.com is one of the foremost of these and offers a tool, LEAP! that does not compete directly with TradeStream but also uses data from other applications to give users better visibility for making more cost efficient decisions. We expect to witness similar offerings from other vendors that are aimed at improving existing enterprise applications via the Internet.

User Recommendations

TradeStream is a new product and it is unclear what steps are involved in linking it to the ERP, legacy, and trading exchanges systems it needs for data. Past experience teaches that software that pulls data from other sources can be difficult to implement in part due to the broad nature of its application. At the very least, TradeStream represents another example of a vendor introducing a product aimed to address the boundaries between enterprises and expanding the supply chain, a welcome step in the evolution of supply chain management.

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