The demand center service announced last week by OnDemand Inc. may help companies avoid the kind of overstock that caused Cisco Systems Inc. to write off $2.2 billion in excess inventory, OnDemand officials said.
Demand Center, a part of the Menlo Park, Calif., companys Partner Accelerator PRM (partner relationship management) suite, encourages inventory efficiencies between manufacturers and their channel partners by giving them real-time views into the others inventory, with no client-side software required beyond a Web browser.
The service also rewards channel partners for accurate inventory forecasting by tying together a forecast collection and rating system with a partner entitlement system. This allows manufacturers to bestow incentives—such as rebates, discounts, price protection, market development funds, participation in demand generation programs and inventory allocation—on channel partners that meet their forecasts.
Demand Center has caught the attention of Hewlett-Packard Co., which has more than 25,000 channel partners for its PCs and printers alone. Although the company already uses PRM solutions from Allegis Corp. for managing dealer registration and rebate programs and from ChannelWave Software Inc. for partner training and certification programs, it is evaluating Demand Center, according to Neville Hill, director of partner operations and marketing services for HPs North American Business Customer Organization.
"In the current business climate, everybody is very sensitive to the amount of inventory they have on hand," said Hill, in Roseville, Calif.
System management software vendor NetIQ Corp. has begun to deploy Demand Center. Its need for such a solution has increased since its April acquisition of WebTrends Corp., which had a different set of channel partners.
"The inventory issue is not that critical for us, but [Demand Center] can help us to make strategic decisions on what product lines to invest in and allocate resources to," said Glenn Winokur, senior vice president of worldwide sales for NetIQ, in San Jose, Calif.
Winokur said that Demand Center can improve the "information flow" between NetIQ and its now more diverse set of partners.