This Week in Logistics News (May 20-24, 2013)

I’m still recovering from my red-eye flight back from Las Vegas earlier this week. Sleep deprivation was a small price to pay to get home in time for my son’s “moon-bounce-in-my-backyard” birthday party. Take a huge plastic structure, fill it with air, and toss a group of 8-year olds in it — a recipe for hours of ear-piercing fun and laughter. Luckily, no tears were shed, and no bones were broken. I’m now wondering if the same recipe would work for my birthday party. What would happen if you tossed a bunch of forty-somethings in a moon bounce?

While you think about that, here’s the news that caught my attention this week:

I was in Vegas for Manhattan Associates’ Momentum 2013 User Conference, where I moderated a shipper-carrier discussion panel (more on that in a future posting). The theme for this year’s conference was Supply Chain Commerce, “the evolution of digital technology in bringing customers and supply chains closer than ever before.” Among the announcements this week was the release of Manhattan’s Store Inventory and Fulfillment solution, “which transforms store locations into efficient, omni-channel fulfillment centers.” Here are some details from the press release:

Store Inventory Fulfillment enables a store associate to execute pick-up-in-store, ship-from-store and store-to-store transfer tasks entirely on a mobile device, while interacting with customers on the store floor. In another industry-leading development, the new release includes One-Step Receive and Reserve, which allows store associates to take receipt of and hold site-to-store and store-to-store deliveries for online customers who have chosen to pick up their orders in-store – all with a single step on a mobile device.

 

In addition, the new release includes Store Operations Intelligence, a reporting and visibility component purpose-built for the omni-channel store manager…Store Operations Intelligence provides greater visibility by surfacing actionable, relevant, and real-time information to the store manager regarding on-going fulfillment and inventory activities in their store.

As I’ve joked before, if you’re in any industry other than retail and CPG, you’re not feeling much love these days from software vendors, the media, and analysts. All the buzz is about omni-channel fulfillment and consumers shopping online with their smartphones and tablets, and store associates walking around with their smartphones and tablets too.

Also this week, HighJump Software released a new version of its product suite, Supply Chain Advantage 12.0. According to the press release:

The HighJump Supply Chain Advantage 12.0 features track and trace enhancements, including new reports that provide greater visibility into inventories to help speed product recalls and support accurate returns processing. Furthermore, the latest version supports an expanded portfolio of configurable voice solutions, including distribution voice-enabled workflow for areas such as picking, receiving and replenishment.

 

The enriched interface and streamlined navigation allow applications to respond more swiftly and nimbly to the user’s needs than ever before: customers will see up to a 75 percent reduction in network bandwidth over previous versions. It has also expanded beyond Internet Explorer to support all major desktop browsers. In addition, the interface includes new formatting controls to rapidly reformat and rearrange data, as well as the ability to navigate even more quickly between pieces of information.

On the social front, Infor announced this week a Social Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) model, “an innovative approach to sync compartmentalized facets of communication across the S&OP process on a real-time basis” powered by Infor Ming.le, the company’s platform for social collaboration, business process improvement and contextual analytics. You can read the press release for additional details. I haven’t seen a demo of the solution, but I strongly believe that social tools are ideal for people-to-people communication and collaboration, which is at the heart of the S&OP process (see “Want a Fast-Response Supply Chain? Facilitate People-to-People Communication”). The main challenge is not the technology, but getting people to use it. Change management — i.e., “Why is doing it this new way better than the way I currently do it?” — remains a big hurdle to broader adoption of social networking solutions (see “Why Companies Aren’t Using Social Media for Supply Chain Management”).

One more thought: Are software vendors going to start adding the word “social” to all of their solutions, just like they added “e-” back in the dot-com era? Will we see Social TMS, Social WMS, Social Demand Planning? It wouldn’t surprise me, but if you believe (like I do) that social capabilities will become ubiquitous in enterprise applications, eventually the word will get dropped, and social business will just be business again, just like e-business evolved back to business.

And with that, have a great holiday weekend!

Song of the Week: “Why Can’t I Be You?” by The Cure



Note: HighJump Software, Manhattan Associates, and SAP are Logistics Viewpoints sponsors.

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