i2 Launches New Business
Planning System"> On the product side, i2s S&OM Solution combines i2s workflow management engine with Scenario Management, a new "what-if" simulation tool from i2, Laucka said. Now several years in the making, the workflow management engine is a great example of an SOA (service-oriented architecture) in action, Elbaum said. "It is Web-oriented, and it calls (business process) models as services from a central location," according to the analyst.By using the workflow management engines BI to perform root-cause analysis, customers can quickly get to the bottom of a situation, according to Laucka."If you have excess inventory, for instance, why is this problem happening?" the i2 executive said. "Thats where our domain expertise comes in; its manifested in the software." Microsoft and i2 ease supply-chain collaboration. Click here to read more. Aberdeens research shows that, "when theres a variance, [businesses] arent getting to the root of the problem 90 percent of the time," Elbaum said. If a product shortage crops up, for instance, a company might blame the warehouse, when in reality, the manufacturing department missed its deadline. The new Scenario Management tool, on the other hand, lets customers simulate different possible remedies for a problem, to gauge possible effects before implementing a new business plan. Customers can access the various "scenarios" via dashboard or portal views provided through i2 Studio, an ingredient in i2 software suites such as Demand Planner, Supply Chain Planner and Factory Planner. "If a huge order comes in unexpectedly, for instance, you can recast your plans very quickly," Laucka said. Now on i2s roadmap are plans for further integration between the S&OM Solution and "Monte Carlo" risk management and mathematical probability capabilities already present in i2s supply chain software. "Were going to wrapper these in a new UI (user interface), but we dont have a timeframe for that yet," Laucka said. Some of i2s customers are already using the risk management and mathematical probability capabilities "on kind of an alpha basis," Elbaum said. The features provide "linked probabilities," according to the analyst. When it comes to projecting the effects of price changes, for example, some risk management software will simply run the price change and keep other variables the same. "Yet we know that a price change can also change probabilities for cost or [sales] volume. I2s software embeds all of this in software and sort of spins a Monte Carlo wheel across it," he said. Next Page: New solution is heavier on services.