Supply Chain Management Enterprise Software: And Then There Was None

by: Dennis Byron

In the beginning, there was Berclain, Chesapeake, Demantra, Distinction, Exe, Industri-Matematik, Interchain, Logility, Manugistics, Nistevo, Numetrix, Red Pepper, Scala, SeeCommerce, Syncra, Synquest, Tilion, Viewlocity, and Yantra. And then there were none.

They were acquired by, in order, Baan/Invensys/Infor, AspenTech (NASDAQ:AZPN)), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), Peoplesoft/Oracle, SSA/Infor, Symphony Technology Group, which also holds a signficant minority interest in Lawson (NASDAQ:LWSN), Kewill, which later disposed of its ERP core, American Software (NASDAQ:AMSWA)--in fact Logility was always part of American, JDA Software (NASDAQ:JDAS), Sterling Commerce/AT&T (NYSE:T), J.D. Edwards/PeopleSoft/Oracle, Peoplesoft/Oracle, Epicor (NASDAQ:EPIC), Teradata (NYSE:TDC), Retek/Oracle, Viewlocity, Synquest, Tilion and Sterling Commerce/AT&T, respectively.

Actually I am not sure what Snyquest/Tilion/Viewlocity was called by the time some Australian guys bought it.

This is the saga of the Advanced Planning function in the product supply chain as point product and supply chain management [SCM] in general as a point product. The impetus to look back and try to learn something is JDA's announcement that it would acquire i2. (My nominee for the best blog post headline of 2008: "i2: The software company even Oracle didn't want.")

I am not counting the middleware guys like Categoric and Haht that flirted with the SCM category as a marketing technique and exchanges such as e2Open that basically provide a service not software.

I am not counting warehouse and transport guys like E3, Manhattan, McHugh/Red Prarie and HK that tried to ride the coattails of i2 and Manugistics in the glory days but mostly partnered with the ERP guys until the ERP guys could develop their own equivalent functionality.

Over the years at least three software suppliers glommed on to the acronym SCOPE. I think Distinction had it first before PeopleSoft acquired the company and the brand. SAP (NYSE:SAP) briefly floated the acronym in the late 1990s before--I think--being sued over it by PeopleSoft. Now I notice that Manhattan uses it. Perhaps Oracle, which may not even know it owns the brand, could sue Manhattan after it finishes up the SAP TomorrowNow litigation.

How can a $6 billion market--according to Gartner--not include at least one pure play? If it cannot support a pure play is it really a market? Was the SCM market really only a creation of the venture capitalists and the analyst firms (I plead guilty to participating unfortunately)? As a point product, supply chain is like spell checking, of no value standalone without the rest of the word processing/resource planning  functionality (or an equivalent business service).

What can we apply this lesson to? A category called IT Planning/Enterprise Architecture Management [EAM] is coming along as possibly the next example of a function that will not be able to stand alone as a market despite the efforts of Metastorm (on shelf as MTSM) and others. Isn't EAM really part of IT Lifecycle Management or systems management or Project management?

By the way, Demand Management appears to be the exception to the finding that SCM functionality can't stand alone. But it will probably be acquired by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Actually I think Great Plains also acquired some APS software before it was acquired by Microsoft but I cannot find a reference on the Internet.

And Prescient [PPID.OB] is still traded over the counter but I do not see how it can be used to illustrate anything.

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