Supply Chain Shorts for the Week of April 8, 2013

In this week’s Shorts, we talk about JDA’s release of JDA eight; Retails Solutions’ value proposition; and a recent visit to Oz Development. What have you been up to this week, supply chain-wise? Wandered off the beaten path and happened upon something interesting? Drop us a line or give us a call.


JDA has released JDA eight, as expected, which should be a terrific new platform—product, and marketing—for JDA. With its several acquisitions, and storied history, JDA has become a conglomeration of technologies. With this announcement (which TEC will have more to say about in the near future), JDA brings 30 different solutions onto a common, cloud-based platform. JDA has certainly had the breadth of supply chain capabilities to make it a leader; now it potentially has the underlying platform to make its solutions—and its marketing message—a more integrated one.

JDA’s John Kopcke, executive vice president and chief technology officer, who had been RedPrairie’s (first ever) CTO from 2011–2012, seemingly jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the fire, going from tackling the rationalization of RedPrairie’s architecture to being the face for the platformization of JDA Software, to integrating the RedPrairie-JDA solutions.

Retail Solutions, Inc.

We sat down this past week with Retail Solutions’ (RSi) Guy Courtin, Director of Product Marketing, to get a brief update on RSi. This company, formerly known as T3Ci, founded in 2003, has become a leader, and a fast-growing one at that, in retail execution management. RSi is co-founded and led by Jonathan Golovin, whom some of you (and this is a real test of your knowledge of the enterprise software space) may remember from the days of MES vendor Consilium (acquired by Applied Materials in 1998.)

The retail space is a fascinating industry these days, with multiple competing factors wreaking havoc: ubiquitous connectivity, the proliferation of mobile technologies, and the ever-shifting trends in the social landscape, particularly around personalization and location. All of this complicates life for the manufacturer and retailer where, already, there can be as many as 5–10 billion data points coming in per day for a single large manufacturer. [Jonathan Golovin summarizes the essence of some of the retail industry trends quite well in a short USA Today article recently, “Big Data's lessons for old school in new media”, that is worth a read.]

Retail Solutions prides itself on being able to turn data into information very quickly for its 500+ CPG companies, and 70+ major retailer chains, helping them turn volumes of uncleansed data into executable strategies. The value proposition for companies is huge. Think about Kraft being able to increase their sales by 23% through better promotions, or PepsiCo being able to reduce out-of-stocks for direct store delivery by 20%. These kinds of value propositions have enabled Retail Solutions to be grown rapidly over the past 10 years to an anticipated $40M–$50M in 2013, with overseas expansion contributing more to this growth this year. Now if RSi could only tell me why #4 unbleached coffee filters have mysteriously disappeared from my local Stop & Shop for the past several months.

Oz Development

After first talking about Oz Development a few weeks ago, P.J. Jakovljevic and I decided a closer look was warranted, and recently made a visit to Oz in Westboro, MA (via Massachusetts’ Route 9, which is no yellow brick road). While Oz has what appears to be solid value propositions, with, reportedly, the phones ringing off the proverbial hooks to prove it), even Oz’s president, Darius Grala will admit the story is not an easy one to tell.

Its core mission is all about delivering mass customized integrations, in the areas of eCommerce (OzLink Channel), warehouse (OzLink Mobile), and shipping (OzLink Shipping), on a subscription basis. Oz has prebuilt integrations to NetSuiteSage, and Salesforce, as well as to QuickBooks, and Microsoft Dynamics. Oz also offers, however, beyond these prebuilt integrations, a platform for companies to build their own integrations, as well as, of course, much more customized integrations that can be done for many other ERP, CRM, and homegrown systems.

A typical customer for Oz seems to be Big Agnes. When this manufacturer of tents, sleeping bags, and camping equipment implemented NetSuite, with an EDI solution from NetSuite partner SPS Commerce, Oz integrated its OzLINK shipping solution to SPS Commerce to provide fulfillment.

Other significant partners include UPS, and ChannelAdvisor.  Speaking of which, no sooner had we returned from our visit to Oz, than we saw the announcement of ChannelAdvisor’s S-1 filing in anticipation of an IPO. But that is another story.

Coming Up

Where’s the Star Trek Transporter when I need it? With JDA FocusAriba Live, and AspenTech’s Optimize each happening the week of May 6th, and Epicor Insights and SAP SAPPHIRE happening the following week, plus a son’s graduation in Philadelphia happening in between, cloning cannot get here fast enough.

Patriots’ Day Message

In honor of Massachusetts’ Patriots' Day today, coinciding with the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, we bring you a message this morning from renowned marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson: “[M]arathoning is all about the story. If I can tell a story, then I’ll go out and run a marathon.”  Food for thought for the software and technology sectors.
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