Manhattan Associates has struck a deal with E3 Corporation and MarketMAX
that symbolizes the eternal struggle between best-of-breed and ERP vendors.
The joint initiative, named Retail Dimensions, will leverage solutions
from each partner to deliver a collaborative best-of-breed retail solution
for optimized multi-channel customer fulfillment. Retail Dimensions is
already available in Europe and encompasses key parts of the planning
and sales cycle including range planning, supply chain optimization, warehouse
management, optimum distribution center replenishment, route planning,
store replenishment and merchandise management.
Dimensions is designed to leverage the core products from Manhattan, E3,
and MarketMAX, offering advanced inventory management, merchandise planning,
transport planning/operations, and warehouse management functionality.
The trio makes the claim that the combination cannot be obtained from
an ERP System.
the increasing pressure of competition on retailers, they need more than
ever to be able to control their business with maximum efficiency," said
Andrew Blatherwick, European President at E3 Corporation. "However, this
desire can often be at odds with the IT Department's goal of one system
running the business, sometimes referred to as 'one version of the truth.'
Collaboration between best-of-breed suppliers aligns these two conflicting
Though the combined solution professes to address problems of both, it
is at best a compromise. Corporate IT departments intent on having "one
version of the truth" will likely still look toward vendors like SAP,
i2 and especially Oracle, which can offer just about everything in terms
of functionality and, in Oracle's case, the technical solution aspects
as well. The Manhattan-E3-MarketMAX consortium is not significantly different
from other complementary solution partnerships such as that between Adexa
and Commerce One.
ERP vendors can also form alliances to fill gaps in their offerings and
generally have more resources at their disposal and greater influence
in the software marketplace. There are some factors in the tripartite
alliance's favor, however. For one, E3 is a strong member of VICS, the
Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Standards organization that has published
detailed procedures for CPFR (Collaborative Planning Forecasting and Replenishment)
and CTM (Collaborative Transportation Management). Its commitment to these
standards and the touch rate with users it enjoys through VICS give it
a leg up in terms of credibility.
point is that the partners are indeed best-of-breed and, while this does
not guarantee their solutions will work effectively in concert, it does
mean that users will benefit from a depth of functionality that is typically
absent from ERP suites.
Users should view Manhattan's collaboration with E3 and MarketMAX as a
positive step but should carefully scrutinize the details of the arrangement
prior to allowing it to influence a buying decision. Questions to ask
include whether a standard interface will be developed to facilitate implementations
or will integration be done on a "one-off" basis. If the former occurs,
users should be sure the interface is implemented as a true API that will
be supported and updated for future releases. If the latter is true, users
should understand what additional software packages, such as EAI, will
be necessary for making the integration and what the projected costs will