At its annual user conference, FOCUS 2000, J. D. Edwards previewed the
latest components of its Active Supply Chain solution, the mid market
ERP vendor's reincarnation of technology acquired from Numetrix in 1999.
Active Supply Chain (ASC) comprises modules for Production Scheduling,
Production & Distribution Planning, and Enterprise Planning with a module
for discrete production scheduling and order promising slated for release
the year since the Numetrix acquisition, J. D. Edwards has made some enhancements
to the core xtr@ applications, but its most significant accomplishment
has been to integrate them with its OneWorld enterprise application suite.
ASC and OneWorld use the same database, which makes it possible to maintain
information needed by both the planning and execution at a single point.
Though evident only in demonstration, the collaboration potential of the
combined solution was impressive.
forecast requirements can be communicated to ASC, residing at the manufacturer,
by retailers via a web browser interface. An alert is automatically generated
and can get the attention of distribution planning personnel by a variety
of modes, including an easy-to-understand dialog within ASC, e-mail, page,
or cell phone. Upon accepting the retailer's new requirements, the change
triggers an increased inventory requirement that is automatically transmitted
to external suppliers of parts that are not currently present in sufficient
quantities in inventory. Once again, these suppliers receive notification
of the change via the Internet or other means.
browser interface promotes collaboration by allowing business partners
to participate without investing in additional software. Manufacturers
can provide partners with login capabilities and administer all the collaboration
technology they need. Messaging is provided by DOMA (Distributed Object
Messaging Architecture), a final gem from the Numetrix development shop.
A proprietary architecture, DOMA operates only within ASC and integration
of ASC with the rest of OneWorld is accomplished via XML through IBM's
new order promising capabilities are based on features from Numetrix's
planning applications, extracted into a form that is accessible from anywhere
within OneWorld. The present release is limited to considering only available
finished goods inventory and demand, but plans are to extend it to raw
material availability and capacity.
new products on display at FOCUS include "Autopilot," a tool that J. D.
Edwards' CEO Edward McVaney hopes someday will supplant the need for conference
room pilots. Autopilot automates user interactions with the OneWorld GUI.
Active Supply Chain has been generally available for less than a month
and it is far too early to make detailed predictions on its future impact
in the supply chain management software market. J. D. Edwards will be
aided in its quest for supply chain implementations by its choice in acquiring
Numetrix, a recognized leader in advanced planning technology. In addition
to xtr@ software, J. D. Edwards has retained all but 3% of Numetrix development
staff and has grown its supply chain division by 75% since the acquisition.
The company has also been careful in its integration of Numetrix development
organization with its own, keeping the Toronto-based location as its center
of supply chain planning and giving it an equal standing to its execution-focused
development team in Denver.
that J. D. Edwards can avoid more management turnover over the next few
years and can prove its capabilities for top tier, multi-national clients,
it should emerge as a strong contender for Oracle, i2 Technologies, and
the now mortal SAP. The rise of ASC also portends the demise of J .D.
Edwards' alliance with SynQuest that was announced a mere nine months
ago, although twelve deals are currently in the pipeline. The agreement
likely will persist for the next twelve months (70% probability) or at
least until J. D. Edwards can offer ASC for the AS/400, now available
only on Unix servers.
As with all new releases, users should employ a critical approach in their
evaluation of Active Supply Chain and require all potential vendors to
demonstrate specific business processes. Though demonstrations do not
guarantee a trouble-free implementation, they can go a long way toward
helping users understand how the software might behave in their environments.
Users should also remember that demonstrations like the ones given at
FOCUS often belie the difficult nature of software integration as it is
attempted during actual implementations. Also, despite McVaney's prediction
that Autopilot will eliminate the need for developing conference room
pilots, users are urged to go through this exercise anyway, at least until
J. D. Edwards has established the Autopilot tool as a viable substitute.