Enterprises are ready to invest in technologies and services to improve their supply and demand chains. We offer a guide to enablers and service providers ready to lend a hand.
[From Supply & Demand Chain Executive, June/July 2004] The economy is steaming ahead, businesses are looking to grow their revenues, and company executives are getting the go-ahead to make significant investments in their supply and demand chains for the first time in ... well, longer than they'd probably care to remember.
Optimistic assertions, to be sure. But evidence for this confidence can be found not only in the recent pronouncements of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan but also in the latest survey of Supply & Demand Chain Executive readers. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents to the survey expressed unqualified optimism about the state of economy; about 63 percent said that increasing revenues was a top priority for their company over the next 18 months; and fully 57 percent said that they had from $1 million to more than $50 million budgeted for investments in supply and demand chain initiatives within the next year-and-a-half. (For more results from the survey, see Sarah Murray's article "The Economy, Close to Home" in this issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.)
With these positive signs in mind, we are offering our readers the latest edition of the Supply & Demand Chain Executive 100, a listing of solution providers and consulting organizations that are assisting leading enterprises in enabling their supply and demand chains for competitive advantage. The editorial staff of the magazine selected the "100" from among scores of applicants based on criteria that our readers have told us, in surveys and countless interviews, are important to them. Namely, these executive practitioners are looking for solution providers that are stable, if not growing, that have relevant industry expertise applicable to specific areas of supply chain improvement, that can demonstrate a return on investment and that are continuing to drive innovation in their solutions and services.
In asking supply and demand chain enablers to demonstrate their stability, we requested that they report several key indicators as of 2003 and the change in those indicators versus 2002. Specifically, we wanted to look at data on employee numbers, revenues and total customer base. To demonstrate their level of innovation, enablers also were asked to provide an estimate of how much, as a percentage of revenues, they invested in research and development. Finally, to help our readership understand how these enablers provide a return on investment, we asked for the names of three marquee customers, information on their average implementation times and "time to payoff" or ROI on their customers' investments, and an estimate of the cost of implementation services as a percentage of hardware/software costs. Readers will find much of this information in the pages that follow, although we have withheld revenue figures for privately held enablers and R&D figures for all companies to preserve confidentiality, even though this information was used to select the "100." (Note that we have listed the "100" in alphabetical order.)
In addition, in order to provide a resource for those of our readers who currently are looking to invest in technologies and service to improve their supply and demand chains, we asked solution providers to specify which areas of the supply and demand chain they enable. This information, as reported by the enablers, is listed in the tables included in this article. We further requested that enablers cite their target customer size and target industry verticals, briefly describe the key problems they solve for their customers and provide an equally brief description of their key differentiators.