This IDC Manufacturing Insights blog presents highlights from JDA Focus 2012, held in Las Vegas in May 2012. Leslie Hand and I also review JDA's current strategy and discuss the impact on JDA's continued success in the supply chain application market for those manufacturers that are JDA customers or for those that are considering JDA.
Emphasizing Business Process Delivery, Not Technology
JDA's annual conference, JDA Focus, kicked off with a big emphasis on services - cloud services and integrated service delivery. Although we'd like to see some more details from the supply chain application vendor, JDA made a clear pronouncement that its customers would benefit most from offerings that enabled customers to focus on the application and the benefits to business processes while lessening the IT challenges related to implementation, maintenance, and upgrades. With more than 2,000 attendees, "The Supply Chain Company" (as JDA calls itself) demonstrated continuing focus on helping companies effectively plan and execute on supply chain needs, ultimately improving its end users' customer experience.
Although JDA's 2010 acquisition of i2 represented the company's 11th acquisition in 12 years, JDA presented a unified set of offerings. At Focus, JDA introduced Customer Engagement Cloud and Shelf-Connected Cloud. This announcement is a natural progression of its 2012 National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show introduction of JDA Consumer Connect, an innovative approach to automating the thousands of decisions companies make daily to synchronize supply with demand. Although we didn't have a chance to review these two new products in depth, we do see JDA's transition to cloud delivery as a good approach to getting functionality out to customers.
Key Conference Announcements
Brief descriptions of the previously mentioned product announcements, as well as others that occurred during the conference, follow:
- JDA Shelf-Connected Cloud. Self-Connected Cloud is for manufacturers to connect their supply chains directly to the shelf store. This connection ensures that trading partners have a common understanding of demand, enabling simultaneous improvements in inventory availability and reductions in inventory holding. Sales and operations planning becomes an exercise outside of the manufacturers' four walls based on the reality of what's happening in customers' stores.
- Customer Engagement Cloud. Customer Engagement Cloud is for retailers to make real-time customer-centric decisions in omnichannel commerce, profitable order promising, inventory allocations, customer order management, and price management. The capability exposes critical customer, inventory, and order information to everyone that interacts with or makes decisions that impact the omnichannel customer, enabling necessary responsiveness. We see this as critical for omnichannel retailers seeking to leverage stores or connect trading partners to order fulfillment processes. Customer Engagement Cloud also enables order orchestration configurable by interaction point as well as by fulfillment method.
- JDA Integrated Services. JDA has also been building a robust managed services organization over the past couple of years, very much in step with retail and manufacturing interests in focusing on driving core business decisions and outsourcing more of the routine technology management and process support capabilities. JDA has clearly recognized the pronounced challenges companies experience as they try to iterate decisions and processes at the current pace (clock speed) of business. Companies can innovate faster when they leave management of JDA systems to the experts - and who better to offer integrated service delivery than JDA.
- JDA 3D. JDA 3D is an integrated category optimization and three-dimensional (3D) virtualization offering that modernizes and extends shelf planning and category management capabilities. Through a visual presentation, a wall-sized demonstration of the product illustrated very clearly how easily right brain and left brain decisions could be made quickly. Particularly powerful was the overlay of financial performance metrics that could be made visible by exposing information from analytics applications. All in all, the partnership with Red Dot Square on JDA 3D extends JDA's position in shelf planning quite nicely.
- JDA Transportation Manager and Transportation Planner. JDA announced integration with Chainalytics' Integrated Freight Market Intelligence service, actionable analytics integrated directly into the JDA Transportation products, and improved dock scheduling for more accurate dock worker capacity modeling.
Keeping JDA Competitive, and Giving Customers Options
Both the cloud announcement and the integrated service delivery plans have the potential to keep JDA extremely competitive in the supply chain application market. At this point, JDA's CEO Hamish Brewer is (rightly so) not willing to force JDA's customers to the cloud before they are ready, but we'd like to see more packaged offerings around the cloud options and the integrated service delivery as well. This would make it easier for IT buyers and business users to understand exactly what they are buying and why in terms of ROI as well as how it will impact their current IT investments in people and resources. Conference attendees we spoke with expressed interest in a cloud-based consumption model, but as we've found at other vendor events, many also weren't sure cloud was in their short-term future.
We continue to see reluctance from companies that feel they have fully functioning IT departments that focus on the particular needs of their own companies. We think their hesitation will change over time as manufacturers and retailers look for ways to increase IT efficiency and shift IT resources to tasks that require deep business knowledge and provide high value to their businesses. We've heard similar messages from other vendors as well - that cloud offers IT vendors the ability to provide a lower-cost option without sacrificing service because of vendor efficiencies gained through scale, experience, and repeatability. JDA is ready to help its customers overcome their reluctance by offering a price reduction for cloud-based business.
Companies with current investments in JDA shelf planning applications will certainly benefit from being able to visualize shelf plans and data via the JDA 3D capability, and companies that haven't invested yet may find that this is the capability that helps them make the business case. The Customer Engagement Cloud and Shelf-Connected Cloud will also need to be considered seriously as JDA continues to create great opportunities for retailers and manufacturers to serve their customers well.
Let us know what you think about JDA's approach!