A packed room of what Mike Edenfield, CEO of Logility, called “supply chain, supply chain, and only supply chain” users connected with each other in Atlanta for an insightful three-day conference to learn from each other and Logility about supply chain—and what’s new with Logility.
The conference looked like the who’s who of consumer products from food, footwear, and apparel to health and beauty, beverage, and many industrial and high-tech companies as well.
As Mike Edenfield told the audience, Logility, by staying ‘conservative,’ has won and kept customers over the decades. With a strong cash position1 and steady growth, Logility continues to capture customers from so-called larger supply chain players such as JDA and SAP. As I talked to dozens of Logility customers during the conference (who have a choice), I asked them why they picked Logility. Many told me that Logility has the depth and yet, an easy-to-use solution, unlike their competitors. As one customer stated in his presentation, “Over the years in different jobs I have used Manugistics (now owned by JDA), Demantra (Oracle), APO (SAP’s planning system), and you name it! But Logility is by far the easiest solution to implement and use, with no sacrifice on needed functionality.”
As Karin Bursa, Chief Marketing Officer, told us during her welcome, today, Logility has more than 1,250 customers in 75 countries. Not content to sit on its laurels, Logility announced over 300 new enhancements for their Voyager 8.5 release, as well as a broadening of their approach in2 managed services. Key new product areas are Integrated Business Planning (a broadening of S&OP),3 mobile, and deeper analytics and optimization.
In fact, Logility announced a long list of new capabilities, right in step with the current needs of supply chain users. We’ll get to those shortly.
For a firm to be competitive in supply chain performance and maximize the value they get from their software—especially in complex areas such as supply chain—it is critical for the software provider to take a deeper role in the customer’s success. Thus Logility’s approach to managed services now includes a more co-managed support of customers’ operations. Many organizations today find themselves with shortages in personnel and knowledge4 in key roles such as planning. By turning to an ‘expert’ who not only has detailed knowledge of the system used, but also knows the nuances of supply chain processes, customers can achieve a competitive advantage through supply chain. Support such as this can be short term until an organization achieves maturity, or continue over the long term. Though outsourcing of supply chain planning is not a trend we see developing, we do see increasing outsourcing of operational management and co-management of data management and reporting, procurement operations, as well as supplier assessment.5 Interestingly, many companies who have relied on their 3PL (for transportation) or a contract manufacturer (for procurement) may still ask these service organizations to execute the plan; but the OEM may want to do planning and oversee the execution. The OEM also generally needs spend management and other analytics that are part of the OEM’s solution—not the third party’s.
We saw a strong showing of young businesses and virtual businesses in the Logility customer base that do rely on CMs and 3PL for these services, but they use supply planning and supply management modules to ensure adherence to plan and material compliance.
This model is important since it keeps business decision making where it belongs—with the business. One of the most interesting presentations at the conference and I believe of vital important to executives was that of Sean Willems, Chief Scientist of Logility.6 After years of providing service to companies who need to make both strategic supply chain design and tactical safety stock decisions, he had some important insights into the nature and how-tos of decision making. Often businesses do not focus on the high opportunity impacts, but rather they focus on the day-to-day and can’t uncover opportunities for business improvement.7 Part of his advice was to standardize and automate the routine parts of the job so that the mind is free to look at the big picture and recognize new opportunities.
As an example, seeing companies introduce or re-emphasize certain product lines, categories, or customer segments; or Starbucks introducing more categories in their stores. Or Under Armor applying more focus to the women’s segment. I cannot do the talk justice in this short article, but of critical importance was his advice to “think like the salesperson—not an operations person.” That is, focus on growth and sales, not cost cutting. This is important to supply chain professionals, we have always advocated, if they want to get a place at the executive table.
More Services—Customer Effectiveness
Another area of service we think is important is the emphasis on user/customer effectiveness, that is, how well the system is implemented and used. This takes two elements: the Solution Effectiveness Review and renewed emphasis on education. Here, the goal is not selling more software, but making sure that the software the customer has is being used effectively, addressing process and organizational issues that might inhibit performance results and ensuring that the users can manage on their own, as Logility said, “… change the system themselves.” At the end of the day, this is the heart of successful projects. Tech firms often give this short shrift—and their low renewal numbers show it.
Integrated, Mobile, and Social—What’s New at Logility
Mark A. Balte, Vice President of Research and Development and Allan Dow, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing gave us the highlights on what’s new at Logility. With over 300 new elements we can’t cover it all, so here are a few highlights:
Integrated Business Planning: Logility’s new IBP solution provides integrated planning and includes finance, manufacturing, supply chain, sales and marketing, suppliers, and customer collaboration. This is a new capability that takes a pragmatic and yet, strategic view of the business. “This new solution will tie strategic, tactical and operational activities into a single comprehensive business plan bringing rapid simulations from in-memory processing, and real time analytics to enable demand and supply segmentation and multi-enterprise collaboration.”8
Today, many firms buy their IBP or S&OP as a separate module, so this new capability gives consumer product companies who have to collaborate with retailers and their suppliers a platform to an interoperable planning engine with which to do so.
Social Collaboration: “The context-aware supply chain requires rapid communication with and the ability to integrate data from multiple stakeholders and sources.”8 Hence Logility’s integration to the major social networking tools such as Yammer. This capability complements Logility’s pioneering work in collaborative supply chain.
Mobile: A new solution for supply chain is the use of the mobile platform. We, as professionals, are really just beginning to sort out how we will use mobile devices, especially considering the security issues. However, employees on the go really need the tablet/smartphone option to provide them another window into the business. Mobile is not just a ‘desk top on wheels,’ but provides capabilities such as location awareness not available in the office. Talking further to Allan Dow we both agreed that mobile is its own extensive roadmap of capabilities for the future. Having said that, here are some of the current Logility Thumbprint9 capabilities:
Mobile collaboration for consensus planning and social dialogue
Role-based alerts and notifications on key performance indicators
Monitor and manage the S&OP process with live data; monitor and manage access to key user applications.
More Cloud: Most of the Logility customers today are on premise, and that tends to be the case with demand-planning-centered workers. But the supply side has been quickly migrating to the cloud. And transportation10 is a cloud-centric universe. Logility offers companies a choice in deployment models “to best fit their current needs and the flexibility to change as their business priorities evolve” so customers can move from the cloud to on premise or vice versa as their needs change.
Other Super Interesting Things
Proportional Profile Planning: Logility’s P3 product got a lot of attention. This is Proportional Profile Planning, which helps create a model—a profile—of demand distributed across a product family, for example, different product attributes such as size or other elements. I did learn from this session why I find it so hard to find my shoe size. Retailers and brand companies—though they may sell thousands of an SKU—may only make a few of, or not offer at all, a particular size, color, specific packaging, or other attribute of the product in a certain market. So for people who wear a small shoe—sorry. Not too much revenue can be made from those size 5 and 6 shoes. The proportion planned for the summer black open-toe sandal is weighted heavily for sizes 7.5 through 9, and less for larger and smaller sizes.
Supply Planning: Integrating all the issues associated with inbound supply—supplier orders, transportation, and other factors to create a synchronized supply plan with supplier collaboration. Many Logility customers whose ERP has the financial side of purchasing (pricing and contracting) use Logility Supply Planning to manage the rest of the purchasing and inbound scheduling such as specific time-phased material requirements, allocation of orders amongst suppliers, etc. This is also a valuable module for a virtual business whose contract manufacturing is doing the finite schedule, but who requires the master schedule from the OEM/Customers.
Partnership with MID Retail: Logility also announced a partnership with this veteran of the retailer sector.11 MID Retail is a merchandise assortment and allocation solution12 for the retail side, which can complement Logility Demand Planning for the brand side. MID Retail’s strength is in hard-to-plan assortments where typical forecasting and assortment history data may not be available.
There is so much to learn at these types of events, we could go on. We will. In our next issue we will provide some excellent results/cases of Logility customers’ S&OP projects. With world class supply chain software and innovative optimization technology, Logility continues their voyage as a major force in the supply chain market with wins at Under Armour, Johnson Controls, Ferguson, Seagate, Lifetime Brands, Caribou Coffee, L’Oreal, P&G, HP, Nestle and more than a thousand others.