Business Performance Management for Consumer Goods Suppliers

Blue Agave aims to provide real-time view of service performance metrics as basis for improving service to retailers

Blue Agave aims to provide real-time view of service performance metrics as basis for improving service to retailers

Cambridge, MA — June 21, 2004 — Business performance management specialist Blue Agave Software has launched a new solution designed to give consumer goods suppliers a complete, real-time view of service performance metrics as the business is running with the goal of improving service to retailers.

Configured specifically for consumer goods suppliers, the new offering, dubbed Retailer Service Excellence for Consumer Goods Suppliers (RSE), combines packaged software and implementation services.

The solution captures, organizes and manages disparate data from major retailers' point-of-sale (POS) systems, providing a demand system-of-record that can be leveraged in combination with operational information from internal transaction and planning systems to form the basis of real-time decisions to improve service and revenue.

Blue Agave said that the solution gives consumer goods suppliers a real-time view of service performance metrics as the business is running, providing managers with the insights they need to improve service. "Ready-to-use and customized reports that leverage critical retailer data — including [radio frequency identification (RFID)] and POS feeds on sales, inventory and pricing information — arm managers with the information necessary to effectively execute both internally [and] with their retail partners," the solution provider said in a statement.

Blue Agave's move to offer a solution targeted specifically at the consumer goods industry is consistent with a broader trend in the marketplace identified by Jeff Woods, principal analyst at technology consultancy Gartner, who said that as organizations move toward the real-time enterprise, there is a tremendous need for industry-specific solutions. "This is especially true in the consumer goods industry, which is striving to become increasingly demand-driven, through the application of real-time information in the form of retailer-provided demand data and RFID," Woods said.

Joe Chappell, president and CEO of Blue Agave Software, suggested that in order to excel in today's environment, service teams need to become more proactive, product planners have to understand how products are performing throughout the network, and managers need visibility into end-to-end operations in order to protect revenue and capture new opportunities.

"RSE is the only solution tailored specifically to address the business requirements of the entire consumer goods supplier organization, seamlessly and automatically delivering consistent, actionable information to drive higher levels of service and profitability," Chappell asserted

The RSE solution takes advantage of Blue Agave's Active Performance Management 2.0 (APM 2.0) solution, which was announced earlier this month. RSE combines Blue Agave's services and domain expertise with pre-configured components from APM 2.0, including ActiveCustomer, ActiveInsight and ActiveDataStore.

RSE includes pre-built integration with several retailers' proprietary systems, including Wal-Mart's RetailLink, Lowe's Loweslink, Target's Partners Online and Kmart's Workbench, as well as integration with such standards-based forms as electronic data interchange (EDI) and AS2. In addition, RFID support has been included in all aspects of the product.

According to Blue Agave, RSE's centralized demand repository organizes, normalizes and manages this retailer data, creating a cohesive view across the organization's entire network of stores and distribution centers, even across multiple retailers. By normalizing retailers' proprietary reporting formats (including varied start dates for data collection, time zones, units delivered and product identification codes), the solution offers actionable information to teams and managers throughout the supplier organization, the solution provider said.

In addition, by leveraging retailer data, along with operational information from internal transaction and planning systems, RSE's exception management capabilities identify potential operational problems that, if left unaddressed, could impact service and revenue. The software automatically notifies and equips the appropriate decision-maker with resolution strategies that make sense for the business, Blue Agave said. "With all relevant contextual information presented in a single interface, the supplier's teams are able to work collaboratively across the entire enterprise to proactively resolve problems before sales and service are impacted," according to the solution provider

Among the issues that are important to customer-facing teams and managers, the solution addresses the challenges of sustaining targeted in-stock levels at the store, warehouse and distribution center; maintaining optimal pipeline supply; balancing inventory across locations; minimizing returns; and maximizing promotion effectiveness.

RSE is deployed behind the company's firewall to ensure security and confidentiality. Blue Agave said that the Retailer Service Excellence solution can be deployed in as little as 10-14 weeks.

For more information on the challenges of enterprise performance management in the age of real-time data, read "The Reality of Real-time Performance Management," the Net Best Thing column in the October/November 2003 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.