In anticipation of its annual SCT Summit user conference April
8-11, SCT (NASDAQ: SCTC), whose Process Manufacturing and Distribution
Solutions Division is a prominent provider of business solutions for the
process industries, orchestrated a press release blitz during March.
March 6, SCT announced an expansion of its vision for its process manufacturing
and distribution solutions business. This vision, called "Collaboration
in Process," is based on recognition that process manufacturers and distributors
will increasingly go to market as members of competing commerce networks.
Namely, with the advent of increasing collaboration in supply chains,
competition in the manufacturing environment is becoming less about competing
products and increasingly more about competing supply chains.
claims its vision extends beyond the traditional supply chain, which is
defined by the physical flow of goods, to include the participants who
do not directly handle the product but rather handle information, such
as exchanges, markets, brokers, and other service providers. This complex
relationship network, together with the traditional supply chain network,
defines the new paradigm of business - the commerce network.
A significant piece of the expansion of iProcess.sct features a relationship
network modeling, allowing enterprises to capitalize and collaborate when
relationship events occur within or across the commerce network.
meet its expanded vision, SCT has announced additional products and features
that focus on Supply Chain Planning and Optimization, Internet Commerce,
and Relationship Management. To that end, on March 20, SCT announced the
newest components of the iProcess.sct solution, delivering additional
iProcess.sct suite includes advanced planning, demand planning, and advanced
scheduling, and with planned expansion to include transportation planning
and replenishment planning with support for Collaborative Planning, Forecasting
and Replenishment (CPFR) and vendor-managed inventory (VMI). SCT's iProcess.sct
also includes sell-side e-commerce and eCRM solutions, with planned expansion
to include interactive customer service capability, and access to e-commerce
applications via wireless technology.
to SCT's product announcements are Interactive Customer Assistance components
of iProcess.sct. These will enable real-time customer interaction through
SCT's sell-side Internet commerce solution. Using these solutions, SCT
claims that enterprises can extend Internet commerce applications with
live on-line communications and call-center capabilities. Functionality
includes instant messaging, live chat, e-mail, and real-time "follow-me
browsing," which enable a customer service representative to remotely
guide a customer through the on-line sales process. Trading partners can
choose how and when they will do business with each other, whether it
be through a website, over the phone, or a handheld or personal digital
assistant (PDA). Wireless business activities include placing or checking
orders, inquiring on goods available, and looking up quality specifications
on newly arriving shipments.
March 19, SCT also announced a partnership with IBM that combines
the iProcess.sct solution with IBM e-business solutions. As part of the
relationship, SCT will offer iProcess.sct with IBM's financing, hardware,
software and service solutions. With the relationship, SCT embraces key
IBM technologies, such as IBM WebSphere* software, MQSeries,*
and the DB2* Universal Database. SCT also embraces multiple
leading IBM platforms, including the new IBM eServer* pSeries
and xSeries systems.
the new vision focuses primarily on expansion in the aforementioned areas,
SCT will continue to offer its Supply Chain Execution/ERP products to
the market along with continued upgrades and additional applications for
warehouse management and trade funds.
these announcements, SCT raises the ante for e-commerce within the process
manufacturing space. The expanded vision addresses the marketplace realities
of its process manufacturing segment. Most of these markets live with
the reality of very slim margins. To compete, these companies must continue
to reduce their cost while increasing the level of service to their customers.
The time-to-market for these companies is often constrained by the idiosyncrasies
of handling natural resources (e.g., seasonality and perishability). For
these companies, however, the speed of communications promised by the
Internet has evolved into a new era of competitiveness that is not that
typical within the discrete manufacturing sector.
industry expert Bill Friend, ex-VP of IT and Logistics for Simplot
states, "Competition within the process industries can no longer be based
upon price and quality, these are givens. Competition must move to increased
levels of service. Process companies must wrap their products in information
to better serve the total needs of their trading partners."
process manufacturing vendors will have to assess their offerings relative
to iProcess.sct to counteract the impact of this expansion in functionality.
Since most of them are currently in a tight spot with dwindling resources,
this need may only rub salt into their wounds. Vendors that have a broader
focus than the pure process manufacturing but that also compete in the
space need to more deeply grasp the inherent process market peculiarities
versus the advantages of offering perhaps broader but less focused solutions.
the above strategic moves are a step in the right direction, SCT has yet
to adequately address the buy side of its e-business applications, namely,
the area of e-procurement. While SCT has formed a partnership with ecFood.com,
a leading food ingredient exchange, as part of their buy side e-business
efforts, it has not yet provided similar offerings for the remaining segments
of its focus (e.g., chemical, life sciences, etc.). Some competitors like
Infinium, can tout both vertically focused e-procurement and integrated
CRM solutions. Look for SCT's remedial actions in that regard.
Existing SCT customers should consider these announcements as central
to their e-commerce plans, although informing themselves about other vendors'
offerings would be beneficial. Process manufacturing enterprises from
the above mentioned industries that are looking for e-commerce or other
enterprise solutions should place SCT on their initial list of prospective
vendors. Potential and existing users should be aware of the fact that
it is a long journey from vision to execution. Therefore, prod SCT executives
about firmer product availability dates and bear in mind typical issues
associated with immature product releases.
general recommendations for both current and potential SCT users can be
found in SCT
Corporation: The Last Viable Process Manufacturing Vendor Standing?