i2 Announces e-Business Strategy

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i2 Announces e-Business Strategy
S. McVey - September 28th, 1999

Event Summary

At its annual user conference on Oct. 13, 1999, i2 Technologies will announce details of its Internet Fulfillment Server application suite that will enable businesses to take orders, manage website content, and provide price quotes via the Internet. Also forthcoming at the conference are details of its Rhythm Exchange Services, a solution for on-line trading partner collaboration. In addition, i2 plans to announce the first six suppliers to participate in the new Internet trading community.

Market Impact

More than a year after overtaking beleaguered veteran Manugistics Group, i2 Technologies continues to enjoy strong sales and earnings despite the fact that many corporate supply chain management budgets are being reassigned to address Y2K issues. For the last six years, i2 licenses have accounted for over 60% of total revenues, evidence that i2 is having no problems penetrating the marketplace. In light of the numerous modules comprising the current suite, it is easy for one to forget that as recently as 1996, the Rhythm suite consisted primarily of Factory Planner and Supply Chain Planner. i2 has expanded by making shrewd acquisitions of complementary vendors like Think Systems and combining them with internal technology and expertise.

Rhythm Internet Fulfillment Server (IFS) and Exchange Services provide good examples of this ability to mold and augment acquired technologies to deliver timely, relevant solutions to market. IFS combines back-end functionalities native to Rhythm such as Available-To-Promise (ATP), with new front-end features like on-line order entry and delivery date quoting. Long known for its powerful planning engines that take into account complex relationships among materials and capacity, i2 is working towards making these modules available for on-line users. This is not to say that i2 lacked an interface before as Delivery Date Quoter for ATP checking has been a part of Rhythm for several years. Rather, the paradigm under which Rhythm is usually deployed in enterprises fails to deliver features like DDQ into the hands of those who really need them customers. The Internet provides the ideal medium for providing this visibility, uniting an enterprise with its customers. Similarly, Rhythm Exchange Services tackles the beginning of the supply chain, providing suppliers with visibility into customer orders and enabling them to anticipate material requirements with greater precision.

User Recommendations

If history provides any indication, i2 should be successful in deploying the more customer critical portions of its IFS and Exchange Services suites, such as customer care and on-line product configuration, over the next twelve months. Although competitors have announced alternatives to these packages (Manugistics' e-Chain, Logility Value Chain Solutions, and Numetrix xtr@ to name a few), most of these are in similarly early stages of development. i2's strong position in the market, their record of successful technology integration, and mature back-end functionality should reassure users that may be considering one of these new Rhythm offerings. One caveat: i2 has a history of weak first releases and users should set expectations accordingly.

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