In many companies, there’s supply chain software and there’s the software that runs the business. But the two don’t generally work well together. IBM and i2 Technologies earlier this month formed a partnership to attack the problem. Under the agreement, IBM is integrating i2’s supply chain software with its wide array of vertical industry software as well as its database, messaging, communications and operating system software.
Additionally, IBM plans to sell the i2 software as part of its turnkey offerings for industries such as manufacturing and retail sales. “This marks IBM’s entry into the supply chain market in a far more deliberate and organized fashion than we have made before,” said Bill Paulk, vice president of supply chain solutions at IBM’s Global Industries business unit.
One of the first companies to implement the newly integrated IBM-i2 software is Delta Faucet, one of the largest U.S. makers of plumbing supplies. Before deploying the technology, Delta had “no [electronic] ties to our suppliers,” said Stephen McFarland, chief financial officer at the company.
“We were taking our point of sale and inventory information and storing it in a data warehouse, but the information was totally disjointed,” McFarland said. “It took a lot of human intervention to sort it out and tie it together. Now we’re able to work more closely with our customers and suppliers. That’s a huge value for us.”
In its implementation, Delta is linking IBM factory floor software with i2’s Rhythm suite of software to process order data, forecast demand and manage inventory, McFarland said. The software runs on a variety of IBM hardware and operating systems.
IBM and i2 Technologies software will extend their integrated offerings to other industries as well, Paulk said. “We’ll target consumer packaged goods industry and retail,” he said. “We also will tie our technologies together in forecasting and replenishment applications.”
The Carraro Group, an Italian manufacturer, is implementing the integrated factory floor and supply chain apps in its automotive business. “Combining the solutions of both companies will benefit our unique environment,” said Guido Ghilardi, vice president of worldwide manufacturing.
IBM will integrate all of i2’s Rhythm suite of supply chain software into its product line. IBM also will establish global “Supply Chain Centers of Excellence” that will incorporate i2 and IBM staff to support the integrated software.