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The New Manugistics Debuts eBusiness Products

Written By: Steve McVey
Published On: February 2 2000

The New Manugistics Debuts eBusiness Products
S. McVey - February 2nd, 2000

Event Summary

At its press analyst day on Tuesday, Manugistics announced new tools and applications for Internet B2B collaboration intended to put the ailing supply chain management vendor back in the game. Distancing its applications from what it termed "traditional eBusiness" solutions, Manugistics hailed the new offerings as the next evolutionary step in online trading networks, communities of businesses that buy and sell over the web. Bstreamz.com, its new trading exchange, comes in two varieties: sponsored and powered. Sponsored exchanges carry Manugistics branding or co-branding and allow open membership in return for a registration fee. Exchanges "powered by" Manugistics allow trading networks to be built using WebWORKS, an XML-based architecture. Its hosted application platform for mid markets, bnetworks.com, provides access to Manugistics's NetWORKS supply chain management suite. Manugistics operates the software but the client owns the processes. ASP partnerships should follow in the coming months provided the applications find marketplace acceptance.

Market Impact

Manugistics's claims of making the next evolutionary step in eBusiness are an exaggeration, but its B2B trading exchange applications do offer some attractive features. Foremost of these is the incorporation of business rules to govern transactions. Users can specify rules that classify and rank candidate transactions in order to maximize revenue, minimize cost, and give priority to meeting commit times (among others). As an example, carrier bids on a posted shipment request are qualified by how well overall goals would be supported if the bid is accepted. The feature is similar to some search engine results that give percentages indicating degree of relevance for each item found. Other features are patterned after earlier products from vendors such as SAP and i2. The browser interface can be personalized in a variety of ways. Alerts inform users when a commit date falls through or a new order is received. The requisite world map displays the user's supplier network. Though much of the functionality could be seen as derivative, the new products are a bold leap for Manugistics and could revive its image.

User Recommendations

So far Manugistics has found three clients for its exchanges, including FreightWise and Canadian Tire Corporation. Clearly, the products are still largely untried. For high profile companies considering an online trading exchange, Manugistics might be willing to offer a bargain in return for the exposure. All companies should consider a few questions:

1. Will a vendor that has sold traditional licenses for many years be prepared to handle the very different demands of running hosted applications (including support through ASP partners)?

2. Has Manugistics worked out the details and understood implications of exchange dynamics? For instance, after a manufacturer has accepted a bid from a carrier to ship a part, can it back out if its customer cancels the order that required the part? Will the effect of penalties be accounted for?

3. How well do these marketplaces work with competitive offerings like mySAP.com, i2's TradeMatrix, or Logility's i-Community? (The last of these is not an online marketplace at all, but a forum for CPFR.)

4. Will your suppliers need to be Manugistics clients in order to gain full benefits of the applications? If so, can you convince your trading partners to enlist (a feat not unlike signing up friends and family for a long distance calling network)?

5. How will fees charged for the exchanges? Will clients be inundated with charges with every mouse click to a different supplier's exchange (as with ATMs)? If subscriptions are offered, will they be flat rate or per transaction? If transaction-based, will fees be greater for higher dollar value transactions?.

 
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