i2 – Still Truckin’

You may not have heard much about them since my last post almost a year ago, and I know that I haven’t, but I did get a chance to catch up with them recently to ask them about how the transformation was going, and it seems that they’ve been making some good progress. In one instance, where they took over an electronics manufacturer’s on-line business, sales increased 500% as a result of the inefficiencies they were able to introduce and in another case, where they took over supply network planning for an apparel company, the required lead times were almost quartered and profits rose sharply.

If you remember, last time I told you that they were in the process of re-architecting all of their modules and major sub-modules as Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) enabled components to run on a new AGILE business platform that allowed them to integrate just the components you need. To this end, they’ve re-organized their offerings around ( a ) planning, ( b ) supply (& inbound visibility), ( c ) channel, ( d ) retail, ( e ) inventory, and ( f ) transportation offerings that they can pull together as needed by a customer.

This allows them, unlike the i2 of old where you often had to go for the full implementation up front – an implementation which would often take years and millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars – to a new i2 that can start small – with solutions that they can often deploy in months (or weeks) at starting prices in the six figure range.

They’ve also been working on their service offerings, so that they can manage the systems and implementations on behalf of their clients, and real-time reporting capabilities, so that they can give their clients just the information they need, when they need it. This includes a new i2 intelligence offering that has a large number of pre-defined supply chain KPIs already built in, as well as 200 standard reports. (Future versions will allow the KPI repository to be extended by the user, but I do not know if they have an expected date for this capability yet.)

They’ve also broadened their definition of supply management to include supply availability and physical supply risk management, which is now part of their supply offering. This is part of their definition of, and newfound focus on, revenue enablement – which is about balancing costs with supply availability and risk in your supply chain.

All in all, as supply chain solutions go, I think they’re on the right track. I still wouldn’t consider them a sourcing or procurement solution per se, but supply chain goes beyond that, especially global supply chain management, and once you make the award and approve the order, you need something to manage the logistics process – and you should start by looking at those companies that have been doing it for quite some time and that are trying to bring some innovation to the process, like i2 is now doing.

While I’m writing about them, I should also point out that they have an upcoming free event in New York on Sunday, January 13, 2008 (at the Grand Hyatt New York) on The Value of Fast that is addressing the topic of Speed to Market: Are you setting the pace or following the pack? that is co-sponsored by Kurt Salmon Associates and features representatives of AMR, JC Penney and Citigroup. If you’re in the area, or looking for a supply chain visibility and management solution, it might be worth checking out.