This Week in Logistics News (July 6-10, 2015)

Friday, July 10, 2015. The day is finally here — the premiere of The Minions movie. I am not sure who is more excited to see this movie, our kids or my wife and me, but there’s something about those little yellow dudes that crack us up every time.

Now, for this week’s supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention:

There were a couple of interesting technology announcements this week, both with “Flex” in their names. First, JDA Software announced its latest release, version 9.0, that “is focused on addressing the three biggest challenges facing businesses today: serving multiple channels profitably; making intelligent and profitable fulfillment decisions; and creating an adaptive manufacturing environment.” The press release provides more details on each, but here’s a notable component of this new release:

The underpinnings of this latest release leverages JDA FLEX technology, which brings together disparate technology systems and physical resources, to create highly connected, end-to-end workflows that span the entire supply chain. Because JDA FLEX is platform technology agnostic, it seamlessly connects business processes across heterogeneous systems, facilities, enterprises and devices. JDA FLEX supports new levels of agility and responsiveness by integrating planning with execution in real-time by seamlessly synchronizing information across the systems and applications that support supply chain operations. One of the core tenets of JDA FLEX is to allow tailoring of business processes to meet the unique needs of a customer’s business while ensuring ease of upgrade and ongoing support. JDA FLEX leverages open industry standards, rather than proprietary technology to adapt to a wide range of supply chain environments, therefore reducing time to value and total cost of ownership.

How is JDA FLEX different from other middleware technologies? I don’t know the details yet, but I plan to learn more in an upcoming briefing. However, what this announcement underscores for me is a general trend in the IT industry: the acceptance (finally!) that supply chains will always be heterogeneous, and that enabling smart and efficient supply chain processes in a heterogenous environment, both within a company and across trading partners, is arguably more important than trying to achieve homogeneity. The question is where should technology such as JDA FLEX reside? My view is that it should reside in the cloud — that is, it should be a core component of a Supply Chain Operating Network (see Where to Find Supply Chain Innovation).

The other interesting technology news came not from a software vendor, but from a $26 billion manufacturing and logistics services company: Flextronics. The company announced the launch of Flex Pulse, “a software-based real time mobile collaboration tool providing unprecedented levels of connected intelligence for managing global supply chains.” Here are some excerpts from the press release:

Today’s unveiling was held at the Flex Pulse Center, a physical location for groups to collaboratively interact…Under the compelling user experience of wall-to-wall touch screens and flowing data visualizations at Flex Pulse Center, Flex Pulse aggregates and interprets live streaming data from multiple sources, including Elementum’s supply chain management applications…The comprehensive customer supply chain view integrates demand, inventory monitoring, manufacturing, quality, outbound transportation and delivery…The resulting intelligence highlights global variables that may impact or disrupt supply chains, facilitating contingency planning and crisis preparedness and response.

Here is a photo of the Flex Pulse Center:


Flextronics is basically building upon its investment in Elementum, a supply chain software start-up it spun off in February 2014 (see my comments at the time).

It’s a funny coincidence that both companies use the term “Flex” in their solution names. For Flextronics, the term is obviously derived from its name — but it also evokes flexibility, which is what JDA and Flextronics are both trying to enable. “We live in a rapidly changing world, full of disruptive events, technologies and business models,” said Mike McNamara, Flextronics CEO. “Today’s executives and innovators need to run their businesses intelligently to win, and one of the biggest challenges they face is the management of highly complex, globally-distributed supply chains.”

The Flextronics announcement also illustrates how industry leaders are creating and leveraging Control Towers to achieve more integrated and real-time supply chain visibility and drive faster and smarter decisions. It also illustrates how the line between software vendors and service providers continue to blur (see Guess Who Announced New Transportation Management Software (TMS) Functionality Yesterday).

And with that, have a great weekend!

Song of the Week: “The Reflex” by Duran Duran

Note: JDA Software is a Talking Logistics sponsor.