The 3rd Wave

No, this post isn’t about molecular diagnostics, feminist activists, or Toffler’s vision, but instead about Blinco System’s Global Commerce Management (GCM) solution or, more precisely, their approach to Global Commerce Management.

Billed as a solution that seamlessly fills the gaps left by SAP, Oracle and other enterprise IT solutions, and allows companies to manage all their global processes surrounding their products or services from “procure-to-pay” or “cash-to-cash”, what it really is, or wants to be, is an ERP-for-Distribution solution.

Noting that traditional ERP systems like SAP and Oracle are not appropriate for non-asset-based distributors, in addition to being prohibitively expensive for small and medium sized companies, and that many companies also have to buy additional sourcing and procurement and supplier relationship management (SRM) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, which are also expensive for small and medium sized companies, Blinco decided to try and rectify the problem with a single approach that tackled the unique problems associated with non-asset based distributors.

The solution is built around a Global Data Repository that tracks all data associated with a product or service from the time of the first requisition through product delivery to final payment and accounting. It can track sourcing related RFX information and bids, procurement related purchase orders and invoices, and accounting information and payments. Whereas an ERP system is traditionally inward-centric, focussing on the data you need to run your manufacturing operations, what a global company needs, especially one that is focussed on distribution, is an outward-centric solution that is able to track all of the information associated with import and export – purchase orders, insurance information, financing, trade documents, shipment information, goods receipt, invoices, etc. (For more information on global trade, and the import and export cycle, see the Global Trade Primer over on the eSourcing Wiki).

I’ve only begun to investigate Blinco System’s GCM solution, but the approach is intriguing – especially for a smaller, mid-size, company that needs the latest in ERP, sourcing, procurement, and supply chain technology, needs it all integrated, but at a budget. Most smaller mid-size companies have a much greater need for solutions that cover the various supply chain areas – sourcing, procurement, SRM, CRM, etc. – than they do for best of breed solutions, as most of their spends are not large enough to warrant the extra investment. Even though best of breed solutions typically save more than average solutions, the few extra percentage points may not make enough of a difference relative to the cost of such solutions for most categories procured by your average mid-size company. Thus, a specially integrated solution might be the way to go.

I’m not going to go so far as to recommend their solution at this point, as I have to learn more about it, and you won’t be able to maximize it’s potential until they correct for a few deficiencies (which they’re working on, but it will probably be nine months to a year before the next version that addresses them is released), but it’s certainly worth looking into if you are in the market for an ERP and a sourcing or procurement solution, as it may be able to fill both of those needs. Furthermore, since the due diligence required in the selection of an ERP system is not something that can be performed over night, by the time you made a selection, completed your implementation plan, and got started, they might be pretty close to what I’d like to see for the type of solution they are expanding. (Which, by the way, is proven with more than one multi-billion dollar company.)