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Supply Chain Commerce Vendor Manhattan Broadens TMS Reach

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: June 11 2014

Atlanta, Georgia-based Manhattan Associates is a renowned provider of supply chain management (SCM) solutions with an impressive array of profitable and growth quarters (20 or so in a row). The company has deep roots in supply chain execution (SCE), and a leading position in the realm of warehouse management systems (WMS), but Manhattan has also added many new capabilities to its portfolio throughout the years, such as transportation management (TMS), supply chain planning (SCP), and omni-channel enterprise order management. These capabilities have been “all the rage” and a new growth engine of late, causing Manhattan Associates to rebrand itself as a “supply chain commerce solutions” provider.
 
Several years ago, the vendor made a “bet the farm” move to build a common supply chain process platform (SCPP), dubbed Manhattan Supply Chain Optimization—Planning through Execution (SCOPE), in which it would converge all of its “open systems” (Java- and UNIX-based) solutions onto a common technical architecture. Peer IBM System i and Microsoft .NET-based WMS products remain standalone on their own technology, while SCOPE currently supports 22 Manhattan Associates’ SCM solutions, such as transportation, warehousing, labor management, inventory optimization, and planning as well as related analytics solutions.
 
Manhattan TMS Acquisition and Focus
Although Manhattan Associates largely focuses on in-house innovation and organic growth, it occasionally makes some acquisitions, typically preferring early-stage startups, where it can acquire the intellectual property (IP) and relatively quickly migrate it onto its aforementioned platform. Evant was its last acquisition in the SCP space, nearly a decade ago. Although acquiring companies with mature products and established install bases might initially bring customers, functionality, and maintenance revenue, these acquisitions also add support and product development burden and distraction. Manhattan Associates’ approach can take longer to carry through, but has the advantage of moving the intellectual property to a common platform more readily.
 
This was the approach the vendor used for TMS, acquiring Logistics.com, one of the first cloud-based TMS solutions, in 2002. Manhattan Associates has since added significant multi-modal TMS capabilities to the product (Logistics.com was primarily truck and North America-oriented), but that effort has not been publicized much in light of the focus on SCOPE and an undisputed leadership in WMS. Although having a TMS within SCOPE has advantages (demonstrating real benefits integrating TMS, yard management, appointment scheduling, and cross-docking), it has taken the vendor longer than hoped to become a recognized player in the TMS market. Given that many of its SCOPE customers are still on-premise, Manhattan Associates has had to spend some time and effort to write formerly cloud-only Logistics.com in single-tenant on-premise architecture.
 
The current TMS product’s forte has been operational transport planning (including performing optimization scenarios), freight sourcing, procurement and bid optimization, fleet management, execution, and settlement (audit and payment). It has integrated for-hire and fleet planning and execution, including last-mile routing and scheduling (R&S) that it refers to as high-density routing. The vendor's TMS is well-suited to the transportation needs of retail, including a particular strength in grocery and related retail, where the goal is to integrate inbound and outbound optimizing across for-hire and private fleet transportation. Manhattan Associates is exploiting this expertise to deliver differentiated solutions for asset-based planning and execution for companies that operate private or dedicated fleet operations, integrated with support for contract carriers.
 
Manhattan TMS 2014
At its recent annual customer conference, Momentum 2014, Manhattan Associates demonstrated the newest version of the TMS. This latest 2014 release includes many innovations that aim to help shippers transform their transportation operations and foster dynamic decision making in the face of market disruptions such as digital commerce, the need for real-time data, and freight capacity constraints. Manhattan TMS 2014 is now generally available for on-premise and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) deployments.
 
A key feature of TMS 2014 is the addition of probabilistic modeling, where shippers can perform a variety of “what-if” scenarios offline, such as determining optimal freight term assignment. Unlike traditional modeling tools, probabilistic modeling accounts for variability, which can provide more accurate results than simply using averages (see Figure 1).
 

Figure 1 – Transport Modeling Features (click for larger images)
 
Tactical scenario planning is becoming a more critical requirement as companies look to model and evaluate the effects of future conditions via residing data, rules, and constraints. Improved parcel management is also included to address the growing need for direct/drop-shipments among retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.
 
Always On Access
While in the past the vendor’s TMS focus has been on static transportation data, TMS 2014 adds a number of dynamic data and content to be more useful to a wider user base (see Figure 2)
 

Figure 2 – New Transport Master Data
 
Additionally, Manhattan Associates highlighted a new mobile proof of delivery application integrated within its WMS and TMS (see Figure 3). This new application provides a way to capture consignee signatures and other delivery details, which automates a manual, paper-based process and helps to improve customer service and delivery accuracy.
 

Figure 3 – Mobile Proof of Delivery App
 
All mobile applications by Manhattan Associates were developed using the vendor’s TouchTop Mobile Framework and application development infrastructure. A native component of its aforementioned SCPP platform, TouchTop is Manhattan Associates’ next-generation user interface (UI), specifically built to enable the availability of applications on most mobile operating systems. TMS 2014 also provides the ability to integrate real-time traffic data feeds for route planning and exception management workflows (see Figure 4). This capability comes from a partnership with ALK, while there are also optional partnerships for telematics and vehicle monitoring such as Isotrack.
 

Figure 4 – Real-Time Traffic Information
 
Improved Capabilities for Carriers
Logistics.com brought significant shipper-centric TMS capabilities to Manhattan Associates, but it took some time for the vendor to recognize the value of the carrier-centric capabilities that Logistics.com also provided. TLM has strong historical roots in solutions that are specifically designed for truckload and less than truckload (LTL) carriers. The vendor continues to develop and sell solutions to carriers, and it has more than 100 carrier TMS clients.
 
With a growing shortage in freight capacity, shippers need to implement carrier-friendly operations to get the best rates. Research shows that shipping rates can increase by nearly 15 percent when shippers have to purchase service outside of their primary carriers. Thus, Manhattan TMS 2014 now features the ability to share transportation forecasts with carriers to be more efficient in the placement of transportation assets and improve carrier collaboration. New capabilities also are provided in conjunction with Manhattan’s yard management and appointment scheduling modules, which can enable shorter wait times and faster turnaround for live loads and drop-and-hook transactions.
 
Focus on Cross-selling TMS and WMS
Manhattan Associates' largest source of revenue remains the WMS, although omni-channel order management is a fast growing business. For those reasons and the fact that TMS’ install base is not yet that large, some might conclude that TMS is not getting the strategic focus it deserves by the vendor. The 2014 product release as well as a number of TMS customer case studies that were presented at Momentum 2014 should allay those concerns. Omni-channel order fulfillment has major ramifications on WMS and TMS design as well, and many Manhattan Associates’ retail customers have cited their TMS role in improving customer experience.
 
For a long time, Manhattan Associates seemed content to not compete in stand-alone TMS opportunities outside its customer base. Currently, its focus is not only on cross-selling TMS to its existing WMS customers together with multiple other SCOPE solutions, but also more aggressively going after opportunities outside of its install base. Reportedly, the pipeline is pretty evenly split between current clients and brand new, TMS-led prospects. Still, TMS is sold primarily in North America and to large shippers in retail, with some limited success in Latin America and Australia. While Manhattan TMS does offer international multi-modal functionality, Manhattan Associates will likely continue to be considered as lagging JDA Software and Oracle in global TMS leadership, especially given that those leaders boast thousands of customers worldwide. But at least the vendor’s WMS and SCOPE customers will have many more reasons to consider looking at Manhattan TMS in earnest.
 
Related Reading
 
Infor Ships Infor SCE v10.3 (April 2014)
 
Manhattan Associates at NRF 2014—Improving the Omnichannel Experience (March 2014)
 
Analyzing Manhattan Associates’ Supply Chain Platform Play - Part 3 (April 2011)
 
 
 
 
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