Demand management solution providers are challenged to be unique. But with so many new areas to explore, new innovations are emerging that differentiate the providers. JDA, Logility, Symphony, JustEnough, Predictix, NeoGrid, SAP, and others are discussed in this series.
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Innovation never ceases. That is, for successful companies. And in striving to understand customers—B2B or B2C—and improve supply chain performance, innovation is required to gain more insights and translate them into quantifiable results. Whether cloud, in memory, mobile and social, or pricing promotions, all these areas are part of the changes taking place in the demand management solution technology space. This will be a multipart series about those changes and how we see the solution providers striving to differentiate themselves in the market.
Mobile and Social in the Demand Management World
Mobile is beginning to play a role and in the future a big role in demand management. As we discussed in Demand Management in the Age of the Customer, the mobile model provides direct customer engagement. Though the buzz in the mobile world is about fun apps for consumers, the reality is that mobile platforms are already workhorses in the B2B world. Social, as well, has several flavors—depending upon whether the target is a consumer or business audience, with enterprise social networking often linking to the business applications.
Three approaches from a mobile and social perspective are emerging in the Demand Management solution community that are interesting to understand. In Figure 1 we highlight these approaches.
Figure 1: Mobile and Social in Demand Solutions
Demand management technology approaches get their roots from the market they serve: B2B for manufacturers, logistics and wholesale, and B2C for retail and consumer-oriented services. These solutions vary in their algorithms, data, and how they integrate to derive the insights required by planners. Retail is consumed with understanding consumer behavior; whereas B2B attempts to collaborate between enterprises to share more structured data coming from known companies and individualswithin those firms. Thus, the mobile and social approaches and the types of data that need to be extracted to create demand plans vary a great deal.
Though sales force tools have been going mobile for a while, the demand management community has been slower to embrace these technologies. Last year JustEnough took the plunge and built a mobile/iPad platform integrating JustEnough’s forecasting with NetSuite sales and mobile.1 This reduces a salesperson’s excuses for poor or late forecasting by blending the forecast process with other tools of the salesperson.
JDA’s V8.0, releasing this month, builds a broader Consensus Forecasting capacity with their JDA 360.2 This consensus brings together the cross-functional team to participate in demand planning. From a mobile perspective, JDA has taken the B2B step to support their many manufacturing and wholesale customers. This provides the salesperson a window into the process of demand planning, and helps create a stronger voice for participation beyond ‘demanding’ that the supply chain ‘snap to it.’
This is a disparate world with not too much presence, yet, from the demand management community. Lots of location-based services (LBS) are provided by the mobile providers, Google, and others. Symphony EYC (the result of the Aldata/EYC merger) has allowed the EYC customer engagement data to integrate with the Aldata promotions management capability. They have learned from the EU market where consumers (who are very conversant with mobile shopping, home delivery, and many more retail formats more than we are in the US) can purchase items and drive to a pick-up location and have their purchases (groceries) just loaded into the car. SAP has been working with larger retailers with their PMR (promotion management for retailers) which is a cross-channel promotion solution. This sits on top of SAP’s Demand Management Foundation.
On the consumer side, the drive has been to interpret all the signals from social networking and engagement data and turn them into both an overall market picture (who are these people and can I get them connected?) and direct engagement (to gain insights, determine preferences, draw the consumer in and ultimately, sell). Specific to demand management, the analytical work to translate this new (and big) data with social sentiment and other analytics is pushing forward. Although still an exploratory area, all the statisticians and mathematicians are working diligently to turn this data into reliable information. ToolsGroup, well know for demand sensing and optimization, has been working on new approaches to sentiment data. First Insight’s approach has been to use gamification techniques to derive reliable insights into what products and at what price companies can most successfully enter a market.
Many social analytics companies as well as firms like Nielson, SAS, and Informatica, who are used to providing big number crunching analytics, integration, and data translations, will have their software or data integrated into large retailers’ marketing departments as well as mined for product developers. One day this market will go through the usual consolidation—pulling some of the innovative start-ups into the bigger enterprise solutions. (BI is another topic.) However, Demand Management, which is the whole point, is beginning to wake up to the opportunities.