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Will Glovia Glow Again Through Its Hub And VARs?

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: September 9 2002

Will Glovia Glow Again Through Its Hub And VARs?
P.J. Jakovljevic - September 9, 2002

Event Summary

Having espoused its strategy to extend its ERP heritage into becoming a provider of wide-ranging B2B solutions to enable enterprises to create collaborative processes, on August 8, Glovia International, an e-business applications provider and a subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited (TSE:6702) with headquarters in El Segundo, CA, announced that MSI Solutions, Inc. / APCO Technologies, S.A. de C.V. has been selected as the latest value-added reseller (VAR) in the new Glovia Affiliate Program that was launched in February. The program's idea has been to include member companies who will augment the efforts of Glovia direct sales and professional services teams by extending its ERP solutions into high-density manufacturing markets. The affiliate program members will specifically sell to electronics, telecommunications, automotive, and industrial customers in the Mid-Atlantic, Mid-West, Pacific Northwest, South Central and South West regions.

In that regard, MSI Solutions / APCO Technologies will sell Glovia's ERP, glovia.com and glovia.e products to customers in the U.S. southern tier region of Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Florida. It also covers Mexico, concentrating on the key manufacturing centers surrounding Monterrey, Mexico City, Guadalajara and the U.S. / Mexico border. The company plans to extend its Glovia practice to the rest of Central and South America over the next 18 months.

Earlier, Glovia announced that CAE Northwest was the first company to be selected as a value-added reseller in the new Glovia Affiliate Program. The new affiliate will sell Glovia ERP solutions, glovia.com and glovia.e to customers in the Northwest region, which includes the metropolitan areas of Boise, Portland, Seattle, and Spokane, and in the Southwest region of Canada, Vancouver and Edmonton. Another VAR, e-Ventus Corporation, was selected in April as a value-added reseller in the new Glovia Affiliate and will serve the Midwest and Southeast regions with Glovia ERP solutions, glovia.com and glovia.e. Specifically, e-Ventus will service customers in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina.

In July, Glovia International announced that its Board of Directors named Dennis Michalis acting CEO and president, following the resignation of Matt O'Malley as Glovia's CEO and president. Michalis joined Glovia in 2000. Before being named acting CEO and president, he served as Glovia's COO and continues to hold that position. Michalis is an enterprise technology veteran, with nearly 20 years' experience in management consulting, solutions practice development, product management, sales and professional services. Prior to Glovia, he worked in technology consulting at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world's largest professional services firm.

The company cited O'Malley's desire to spend more time with his family as the former CEO's reason for leaving Glovia. O'Malley, a member of the Board since its formation in 1997 served as the company's head for the last two critical years. O'Malley continues with the company in the role of an Executive Consultant.

This Part One of a two-part analysis of recent announcements by Glovia. Part Two will discuss Glovia's Challenges and make User Recommendations.

Market Impact

It remains to be seen whether yet another executive change means Glovia will continue to drag through an already extended period of transitions and restructurings that culminated in its acquisition from the UK-based former McDonnell Information Systems (MDIS) (now Northgate) in February 2000 by major shareholder Fujitsu (see GLOVIA to be Resuscitated (Hopefully)). Lately though, the market's perception has begun to slant towards the notion that Glovia was indeed past its restructuring and change of ownership difficulties and now has verifiable and clear manufacturing extended-ERP product and services and e-business strategies to execute.

After several years of focusing on the manufacturing and service mid-market as the Chess division of MDIS, Govia as a part of Fujitsu has since produced a plan for launching its comeback attempt, which is built on its sharp focus and expertise within certain industries, improved new product interconnectivity, and quick and inexpensive e-business enablement.

Glovia has long been offering a versatile manufacturing-focused ERP system, renamed in 1999 into glovia.com to further reflect the idea of globalization, optimization, and visualization, as Glovia stands for GLObal Value Integrated Applications, while the addition of the .com' suffix reflected not only the product's Java-based thin client interface, but also advancements in its object-oriented component architecture and key e-commerce-oriented functional enhancements. To that end, with the help of the parent's company's deep pockets and technology infrastructure products, Glovia can now boast Web-based software capabilities and domain expertise in business-to-business (B2B) collaboration, as it now offers a fully Web enabled B2B transaction applications suite including:

  • glovia.com its traditional ERP system devised to provide a functional back-office system to companies utilizing software for mixed-mode manufacturing (Engineer-to-order (ETO) through repetitive), projects and contract management, service management and integrated financials.

  • glovia.e a global collaborative B2C/B2B e-Commerce framework that includes a Global Order Management system which is composed of eOrder, eStatus and eQuote modules. Also, it includes eConfigure solution, which is designed to allow the configuration and ordering of complex engineered products, while eCRM provides customer, prospect, and opportunity management, and the eService product delivers instant access to vital customer and product information anytime, anywhere.

  • glovia.ec a closed-loop B2B collaboration solution that enables suppliers, trading partners and customers to share and jointly run applications across multiple, disparate systems, and is not limited to only exchanging XML-based documents. It features the following components: vendor managed inventory (VMI), demand planning and replenishment (DPR), order fulfillment and ASN (OFA), outsourced order management (OOM), sourcing and procurement management (SPM), and self service invoicing (SSI).

  • glovia.hub, a comprehensive integrated technology solution for implementing and operating private digital exchange (PTX) designed to take the pain out of global e-business by seamlessly linking market-makers to suppliers and customers regardless of language, currency or operating system. glovia.hub combines three key elements believed to be necessary for successful hub deployment, 1) a strong back office suite of highly scalable ERP technology, combined with 2) multi-language e-commerce buy- and sell-side technology and 3) high performance secure message routing Interstage technology from Fujitsu. To that end, the solution unites proven platform technologies from Fujitsu, global B2B collaborative e-commerce applications based on Glovia.com, adaptable B2B integration capabilities, and robust functionality required to manage a digital marketplace. Glovia.hub leverages common standards and technologies such as J2EE, CORBA, XML, http, EDI, RosettaNet, ebXML, SOAP, and UDDI, and is available in three common solutions that comprise selected, pre-configured Glovia.com components aimed at solving common business problems: 1) Enterprise Selling Hub, 2) Enterprise Procurement Hub and 3) Enterprise Integration Hub.

The future could therefore bode well for Glovia given the backing from the ~$50bn Fujitsu parent, blue chip customers like Caterpillar, Dell Computer, Panasonic, Eaton Semiconductor and Ericsson, its functionally solid and also scaleable ERP system, and its new push with e-business collaboration enabling products. The company's vision appears to become the leader in B2B e-commerce for the global digital marketplaces/exchanges, responding first pragmatically to 'business globalization' with the current multi-national capabilities of glovia.hub. Next step will supposedly be to enable 'business visualization', i.e. executive 'dashboards' providing meaningful and user-tailored visual representations of what is going on with business health. As a final step should come business optimization', i.e., the ability of a manager to know and understand where the cheapest location to build a product is, given, e.g., inventory on hand, available capacity to build and logistics network information.

Strengths

With close to 50 ERP modules, Glovia.com still has much to offer to many manufacturing and service environments. The Kanban and Seiban (an identifying number attached to all parts, materials, purchase orders and manufacturing orders that identify them as belonging to a particular customer, job, product or product line, resulting in having separate MRPs within the overall MRP process) lean manufacturing approaches, both that enable manufacturers to handle configured items in batches of one aimed at inventory optimization and waste management, and the support for serial effectivity have yet to be emulated by many competitors. Also, Glovia's virtual manufacturing capabilities still give it a functional edge over many other products for the mid-market. Further, remote inventory tracking (e.g., parts stored on service trucks) and tracking inventory by projects make Glovia a strong fit for project-based and service industries.

However, Glovia.com had not initially been strong in distribution and transportation modules nor in so called white-collar' corporate functionality such as global financial consolidation or human resources. Recently though, Glovia has added much-needed functionality in its Financials module, specifically in the areas of General Ledger, Cash Management, Budgeting, and Financial Reporting, to help increase its win rate within enterprises with complex organization, beyond its stronghold of the four walls of a single plant.

Glovia.com v. 6.1 was recently launched as a 'demand-focused' offering aimed at manufacturers wanting to use the Internet to collaborate with suppliers and other trading partners, and thus re-engineer their supply chains. One of its key new modules is intelligent order management, which takes projected inventory from the system's APS (advanced planning & scheduling) system or a third-party APS system and allows users to plan accordingly by visualizing best possible shipment date for any order, whether standard or configured product, from any of its facilities. It further includes advice on product substitutions and alternative configurations, with accompanying costs and delivery information, also including costs per plant, and system prompts for the best solution.

Other enhancements would be the APS module re-written in Java and shop-floor data collection (SFDC) module with bar code scanning support for high volume manufacturing and complex industry requirements, in particular now featuring manufacturing execution monitoring through a browser interface. Glovia may also make great play of its web-based configuration tool, which allows users to configure bills of material (BOMs) and routings in a visual graphical environment, and of its CRM functionality specifically designed for its target industries.

Glovia also runs with its Global Access methodology for rapid and incremental deployment on the e-business side, and its business modeling, implementation and change management engine on the conventional ERP side. As for technology, a wide range of platforms covers Unix, Linux, and Windows 9x/2000/NT, but there is only support for the Oracle database. The product is also Java and XML-enabled.

Growing Umbrella of e-Business Offerings

Still, the above-mentioned growing umbrella of new e-business offerings, especially its Global Order Management Suite, with multi-site, multi-currency, complex pricing, and 20 concurrent languages capabilities, and its modules for collaborative buying, selling and logistics, could offer a wealth of new sales opportunities, both within and outside its customer base. As a matter of fact, the firm is still in the throes of transforming itself into a B2B e-business solutions provider with its glovia.hub solution aimed at enabling enterprises to build 'business process networks' (BPNs), in other words — providing PTXs with a brain. This might possibly give a new lease of life to manufacturers' existing ERP and legacy back-office systems, utilizing the concept of 'loose integration'.

The experience for companies with multiple ERP and legacy business systems, all tightly integrated has so far largely been an expensive failure because of the scale of its rigidity and complication of any new tweaking. One of the main obstacles facing users wanting to launch collaborative initiatives has indeed been achieving seamless links between their multiple back office systems and those of their suppliers. As deploying XML document exchanges is not a panacea, Glovia addresses it with its intelligent tools that transmit and translate at both the business document and business application levels so that, in principle, multiple disparate applications can all talk. Doing it this way, with a virtual multi-site, multi-national company getting its data to and from the existing setting of multiple ERP systems, with the appropriate presentations via web hub portals might not only be elegant and easier to achieve but might also be pragmatic and compelling value proposition for multi-system inter-enterprise-wide supply chain execution.

Another notable feat is that glovia.hub is targeted at companies attempting to execute their business globally. Up until now the language of commerce has defaulted to English. With glovia.hub's real time translation technology, orders can be entered in one language and seen in any other language. Other benefits include the ability to aggregate sales and demand within a single organization, to merge products and services as one offering, and to generate quotations that reflect multi-plant collaboration. glovia.hub to date comprises of five groups of technologies (i.e., hub platform, hub integration management, hub e-commerce, hub collaboration, content management) covering many bases from the platform itself to integration, content and collaboration management. All are based on standards like J2EE, CORBA and XML, and all apparently geared to rapid deployment, flexibility, high performance, high availability and scalability along with security. And all provide multi-currency, multi-language, multi-location operational support out of the box.

Possibly beneficial for Glovia is the availability of underlying technologies, from infrastructure up, provided by Fujitsu. As companies increase their global exposure, particularly through online channels, language is an obvious, but important barrier to overcome. Therefore, adding a real-time multi-lingual translation capability, such as enabling customers to enter orders on a Web site in their native tongue, has a tremendous benefit, and has not been offered by many at this stage. Global Order Management System, which allows companies to manage pricing, ordering, scheduling, and delivery with multi-language, multi-currency, and multi-location, as well as tax and tariff regulation, may offer lots of bang for a buck and give competitors run for their money. Many increasingly realize that conducting meaningful B2B e-commerce involves far more than just posting a product catalog and taking orders from domestic customers.

This concludes Part One of a two-part note analyzing recent announcements by Glovia. Part Two will cover the Challenges Glovia faces and make User Recommendations.

 
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