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Supply Chain Shorts for the Week of May 6, 2013

Written By: Bob Eastman
Published On: May 7 2013

It's a busy conference season and quarterly results reporting period. TEC is chugging down the coffee, keeping up with happenings in the supply chain space. Descartes has announced another acquisition this past week, and we share a few insights from our conversation with them. We also found ourselves on the phone recently with DCRA’s Jon Kirkegaard. TEC’s new Supply Chain Management (SCM) Market Survey Report is out, just before we head to AspenTech’s OPTIMIZE2013 this week. Lastly, the tragedy in Bangledesh should probably be a wake-up call to the importance of supply chain risk management. Where are you headed this week? What's capturing your supply chain attention? Drop us a line.

Descartes

Descartes has announced the acquisition of KSD Software Norway AS, a vendor of electronic customs filing solutions for countries in the EU, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Israel, the United States, and Canada. Descartes' Chris Jones indicates that this is one of the larger of the half-dozen or so acquisitions that it has made in the past 3 years. Descartes obviously covets the additional users to the Descartes Global Logistics Network (adding 1,300 onto the currently cited >8,000 figure), as well as the $10 million in additional recurring revenue. Descartes also believes that, with this acquisition, it become the largest supply chain vendor in Scandinavia, and one of the largest in Europe. (Descartes’ presence in Europe has grown from perhaps a couple of dozen people in 2009 to more than 300 people today.) Descartes will have more to say about this acquisition in its next quarterly call scheduled for May 30.

AspenTech

TEC is headed to #OPTIMIZE2013 this week (will we see you there?). In preparation, AspenTech recently provided us an update briefing on its solutions, but would not tip its hand in advance of the imminent conference in terms of likely announcements. (TEC’s PJ Jakovljevic detailed recent enhancements to its product line in “AspenTech Keeps on Enhancing aspenONE”.)  What will you be looking at or for at the conference? What are you expecting to hear?

AspenTech did reveal a change in management this week, in concert with its third-quarter earnings announcement. AspenTech has appointed a new CEO, Antonio Pietri, who is promoted from his current responsibilities as executive vice president of worldwide field operations. Mr. Pietri replaces Mark Fusco, who has been CEO for the past 8 years. AspenTech’s earnings numbers came in over analysts’ expectations. License revenues came in at $1.58 billion, up 13 percent from last year. Adding in the value of bundled maintenance, the revenues were up 15 percent to $1.83 billion.  Net income for the third quarter was $10.51 million, compared to a loss a year ago.

Aspen Technology has been steadily strengthening its position, overcoming some internal headwinds in addition to the challenge of absorbing multiple acquisitions, and of unhealthy economic forces.  Very recently, AspenTech has been able to say that it's the healthiest it's been in 30 years. Will AspenTech continue the momentum at OPTIMIZE2013? We shall see. Look for me near the MES and supply chain sessions, or on twitter, @reastman#OPTIMIZE2013.

Dynamic Cycle-time Reduction Associates (DCRA)

Every so often, one gets the chance to talk with someone in the supply chain—or some other—industry with the tenure and experience to deliver a unique perspective. Recently, we found ourselves on the phone with DCRA’s Jon Kirkegaard, to talk about sales and operations planning (S&OP), among other things.  We're not sure how we've come this far without running into Jon, and we will have to leave it to others to authenticate any clams to the parentage of S&OP itself, but one need only check out DCRA’s Web site to see that DCRA has been at this for awhile. DCRA’s approach to supply chain is with consulting services primarily, but Jon is quick to say that S&OP is a key tool. Jon and DCRA have considerable supply chain experience to offer. When Jon says “The beauty of S&OP is that you can’t fake it,” you get the sense that he knows what he is talking about.

Tragedy in Bangladesh

The recent tragic collapse of the multistory factory in Savar, Bangladesh, highlights once again the need for continuous vigilance on such things as supplier relationship management and supply chain risk management, as well as for sensitivity to the idea of an "ethical supply chain" and awareness of the lurking dangers and risks in extended supply chain relationships. Now would be as good a time as any to take a fresh look at your extended supply chains, and re-assess your supply chain risk management (and supplier audit) strategies. The Wall Street Journal recently reported (“Before Dhaka Collapse, Some Firms Fled Risk”) that companies using suppliers in Bangladesh will increasingly take a hard look at suppliers using factories with multiple tenants in multistory buildings where building expansions may have been made in stages and, therefore, possibly, with different priorities and attention to code compliance. Walmart is reported to have asked its suppliers several years ago to phase out production in factories in multistory buildings that were shared with other tenants.

JDA and Ariba Conferences This Week

Here’s betting that both the JDA and Ariba events will be terrific places to be this week, and if we could figure out a way to be in two (or three or four) places at once, we would be at both of these events. We expect Jean-François Gagné (JDA's chief product officer) to shed more light on the new JDA eight and what is under the covers with this new platform. JDA has promised TEC a deeper briefing after the conference. In the meantime, we'll be following the #JDAFOCUS13 chatter.

Ariba likewise is kicking off Ariba Live 2013 this week in Washington. Among the strong line-up of speakers is Ramsay Chu, global head of procurement of Rio Tinto. There should be some very interesting procurement-oriented insights here, and at #AribaLIVE.

2013 SCM Market Survey Report

TEC’s SCM Market Survey Report is just out, and published on the TEC Web site. Have a look at this overview of the more than 1,400 SCM software comparisons performed using Technology Evaluation Centers’ TEC Advisor  in 2012, including evaluated functionalities, end-user requested delivery models and access, desired customization and integration capabilities, server and database platforms, and end-user budgets.
 
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