i2 Technologies recently announced that it would acquire collaborative
e-procurement vendor RightWorks, subject to shareholder approval.
Analysts are portraying the move as the last straw for i2's stormy partnership
with Ariba. Although i2 will honor 15 or so existing joint contracts
and will continue selling the integrated solution to clients on demand,
it readily concedes that the alliance begun amid much fanfare just a year
ago is over. The IBM portion of the relationship remains intact,
but its relevance is diminished considerably by the departure of Ariba.
RightWorks acquisition is part of a new consolidation push among SCM vendors
and new entrants to the B2B e-commerce market. Shared adversity can sometimes
make enemies into allies, but in the case of i2 and Manugistics
that outcome seems remote.
chain management has evolved rapidly in the years since the Internet became
a venue for conducting business. Software vendors have capitalized on
these changes by introducing products that address the external collaboration
needs of suppliers, manufacturers, and customers. For the most part, SCM
market participants have remained the familiar handful of pioneers who
made it big and the ERP interlopers that acquired SCM products through
either acquisition or in-house development. Among the pioneers, i2 Technologies
and Manugistics Group come most often to mind as the remaining independents
while others have become divisions of acquiring companies.
recent power plays are reshaping the supply chain software landscape dramatically.
Acquisitions by i2 and Ariba have all but severed the tenuous alliance
they sealed last year along with IBM. Ariba threw down the gauntlet in
January by agreeing to buy Agile Software Corp.,
which allows Ariba to offer products for manufacturers to share product
information with suppliers across the Internet. Subsequent deals with
Syncra Systems, SeeCommerce, Zeborg, and SupplierMarket.com
underscore Ariba's intention to offer capabilities that compete with i2
responded quickly by acquiring RightWorks, a successful vendor of direct/indirect
procurement software and trading exchanges that, in addition to enhanced
functionality, gives i2 a foothold in non-core verticals (healthcare,
financial services). i2 expects to offer an integrated solution within
the next 60 to 90 days and hints that a deeper level of integration will
arrive in future TradeMatrix releases.
will have to find another partner for e-procurement now that its alliance
with RightWorks is essentially at an end. For the greater part of its
history, i2's success has overshadowed that of Manugistics, although in
the past year Manugistics' B2B products have enjoyed a revival in market
demand. More evidence of this is the recent surprise win for Manugistics
at Texas Instruments, one of i2's largest and most-publicized
accounts. Both i2 and Manugistics appear to possess the financial viability
and technological wherewithal to prevail against new market players as
the evolution of SCM continues to unfold.
Ultimately, the entry of new players into a software market is good for
end users. However i2 and Manugistics react to competition from Ariba
and others, software vendors arriving from outside the traditional boundaries
of SCM bring novel ideas and technology that result in a greater choice
of products. Of course, the changing faces make it difficult for businesses
to decide which vendors belong on a shortlist. Now more than ever, a carefully
planned and thoroughly executed selection process is critical to ensure
that no opportunities are missed.