Big Guns Roll Out New Solutions

Manu adds service & parts management, i2 takes on inventory visibility, Blue Martini tackles retail CRM

Tempe, AZ  March 14, 2002  Three e-solutions heavyweights recently took the wraps off new applications, further expanding their respective applications portfolios.

Supply chain software provider Manugistics rolled out a solution for service and parts management, while rival provider i2 added new inventory visibility and exception management capabilities to its i2 Five.Two solution. And sell-side software specialist Blue Martini took the wraps off a customer relationship management (CRM) solution for retailers.

Manugistics Group said its Service and Parts Management (SPM) suite draws on supplier relationship management (SRM) and supply chain management (SCM) technologies to address such critical service support chain processes as the planning, sourcing, repairing, maintenance, scheduling and delivery of service and parts.

According to the software provider, companies can use the pricing and revenue optimization capabilities in the solution to more effectively price their service and parts agreements, and the suite can help a company to better allocate constrained resources between production and service operations.

Manugistics is targeting its SPM solutions at service providers to, and service divisions of, companies in a variety of industries in which asset-intensive enterprises are seeking to maximize the uptime of operational assets, as well as the military sector.

Already, the Navy's Supply and Maintenance Reengineering Team (SMART) project, the Defense Logistics Agency's Business Systems Modernization (BSM) program and the Air Force's Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) Pathfinder project all use, or are in the process of deploying, Manugistics SPM solutions.

Meanwhile, i2 revealed this week that it had added new inventory visibility and exception management capabilities to its i2 Five.Two collaboration solution. i2 said the new functionality is designed to give companies faster and more accurate order, inventory and shipment information across their value chains, and that the solution will enable companies to quickly act on the information, leading to improved responsiveness and rapid decision-making.

The i2 Collaboration and Inventory Visibility Solution offers multi-enterprise, multi-tier collaboration and inventory visibility designed to allow companies to reduce inventory carrying costs, while improving customer satisfaction, according to the solution provider.

Jeff McKibben, director of worldwide e-procurement for i2 customer Hewlett-Packard Company, said that understanding inventory status from order to final delivery is critical for HP and its trading partners. "i2's Collaboration and Inventory Visibility Solution will enable us to take our KeyChain private supply chain hub to the next level, providing key trading partners, such as contract and component manufacturers and logistics service providers with real-time visibility to forecasts, orders, shipments and inventory," McKibben said. "As a result, we can further increase the speed of our value chain, reduce inventory levels for all players and improve our customer responsiveness."

The i2 solution includes industry-specific processes like collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment (CPFR) and vendor managed inventory (VMI) for retail, RosettaNet for high tech, and just-in-time (JIT) for the automotive industry.

The solution also enables users to set alerts that are critical to their business roles. Critical exceptions pertaining to the status of inventory, orders or shipments can bet set to trigger alerts to appropriate personnel. If the inventory for a critical item falls below the minimum level, an alert can automatically be sent to the company buyer and trigger the replenishment process from the supplier to prevent stockouts.

Finally, sell-side software provider Blue Martini Software released a retail CRM solution that Blue Martini said will enable retailers to sell more profitably by delivering personalized marketing and service across every channel, including physical stores, Web sites, e-mail and call centers.

Blue Martini said its Retail solution creates a holistic profile of shoppers, delivers insights about individual shopping patterns and preferences and helps retailers to act on those insights to increase customer retention. In addition to Web sites, the solution pulls data from point of sale (POS) devices, signature capture devices, self-service kiosks and wireless devices in what the provider calls a Customer Engine, which segments and scores customers and presents offers and information appropriate for each shopper.

"e-Commerce re-introduced retailers to the profit potential of knowing their customer by name," said Monte Zweben, chairman and CEO of Blue Martini Software. "Now, the same technologies behind e-commerce will let retailers differentiate themselves in the physical store with that same kind of personalized marketing and service. To be effective, any CRM application, from gift registries to loyalty programs, must provide a consistent experience across all channels."

Blue Martini offers nine application modules that a company can add to its CRM suite over time, including, among others, Inventory Locator, which provides online visibility to store shelves; Campaign Management, which supports e-mail and direct mail campaigns; and Customer Service, which enables customer service representatives to take orders, edit profiles, provide status, process returns and service requests using a Web-based interface.

Pricing for Blue Martini Retail will start at $85,000 per CPU, and it is shipping this month.