I2's supply chain plans

By Martin LaMonica, InfoWorld |  Software

A YEAR AGO when public exchanges and indirect procurement were the hot business-to-business technologies, supply-chain specialist i2 stuck to its guns. The Dallas-based e-business provider stayed with its strategy of building an e-business platform around supply-chain management.

Once a relatively niche application provider, i2 is in fast-growth mode -- fueled in part by acquisitions -- and finds itself taking on formidable competitors, such as SAP and Oracle. InfoWorld Executive Editor Martin LaMonica recently sat down with i2's CTO, Jim Mackay, to discuss how e-business technology addresses visibility and flexibility in supply-chain management.

InfoWorld: Why are i2 and other vendors all pursuing a soup-to-nuts e-business platform?

Mackay: One [reason] is that we're a growth-oriented company -- it's a growth model. So it was a logical decision to move into CRM [customer relationship management] as a next step.

Jim Mackay -- i2

Product line Supply-chain management, supplier, CRM, and content management software; Trade Matrix Platform and Network

Recent acquisitions and partnerships Aspect, for product design; RightWorks, for e-procurement; ec-Content; partnered with webMethods for integration

Key strengths Supply-chain and direct procurement expertise; big client/customer wins

Key challenges Absorb acquisitions and sustain growth

If you look at the front end of the customer side of a [supply-chain] application, CRM is a logical feeding point, and it gives you visibility into your employee supply-chain planning solutions so that you can do a better job within your supply-chain planning.

Next comes the whole supplier side of things -- this is why we [acquired] Aspect. If you do a good job of providing supplier solutions that are integrated with your supply-chain solutions, [then] you get more visibility into your suppliers. And you can start to build solutions that are true collaborations.

By having an end-to-end solution, you can start to get more into the execution of [supply-chain management]. Think about a supply-chain execution solution that can react in real time to supplier signals or customer signals and be able to update its plans accordingly, and then be able to propagate those signals out of the [manufacturing] plan back up the chain of suppliers or service providers who are in this thing.

InfoWorld: With so many applications that are needed to do what you just described, what's the best technology approach, best-of-breed applications or a single platform?

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