Flexibility will be key to success during economic downturn

According to supply chain thought leaders at i2 Technologies, Inc, supply chains must offer more flexibility in 2009.

The predicted need for even greater flexibility, and other 2009 predictions, come as the overall economy and supply chain industry face an unprecedented group of challenges in todays marketplace. Uncertain economic conditions and rising business costs have companies evaluating how to leverage the global supply chain for even more value and operational efficiency in the current marketplace.

This is an unprecedented time in the history of global economics, said Steve Estrada, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, i2. The supply chain is literally the lifeblood of the economy, and we are advising our customers to adopt more flexible practices to maneuver through these uncertain times. Our predictions for 2009 are based on our expertise and 20-years of leadership in this market, as well as a keen sense of how this market is changing.

2009 supply chain predictions from i2 include:

1. SaaS and other engagement models will dominate in 2009

Software as a service (SaaS) and other engagement models will dominate the market in 2009 as companies seek to focus technology budgets on gaining a competitive advantage quickly without additional infrastructure. Outcome-based service engagements will be encoded into contracts in 2009 utilizing a managed business process services approach.

2. Risk becomes real and so does risk management

Supply chain agility will go from being a conference topic to a practical imperative for most companies. The focus will shift from traditional planning tools to process playbooks that use tools and point-of-use analytics coupled with process structures that emphasize governance mechanisms. The emphasis will be on rapid informed decision making as a key component of risk management.

3. Supply chain solutions drive a "greener" enterprise

Enterprises focusing on green initiatives are driving bottom line value and winning over customers. Streamlining the supply chain enables companies to decrease both human and manufacturing waste, optimize transportation networks and drive a leaner and greener business. Despite economic challenges, green initiatives driven by supply chain efficiency will continue to be a focus for companies.

4. Business Intelligence will no longer be a separate enterprise application category

There will be a sharp shift in focus from the traditional technology-focused BI implementations that merely deliver the same tired descriptive and retrospective reports. Instead, a unified science of supply chain analytics will emerge that delivers prescriptive analytics to decision makers at the point of use. As a consequence, analytics will cease to exist as a separate category and become a fundamental part of the decision support landscape.

5. The rise of the first-principle supply chain professional

In a break from the highly compartmentalized nature of supply chain professionals in recent years, the need for multi-dimensional expertise will lead to greater demand for first-principle practitioners. These professionals will be equally at home discussing Service Oriented Architecture or the relative merits of different stochastic programming algorithms and leading a sales and operations planning meetings or revenue and cost management initiatives through large teams.  

About i2

Throughout its 20-year history of innovation and value delivery, i2 has dedicated itself to building successful customer partnerships. As a full-service supply chain company, i2 is uniquely positioned to help its clients achieve world-class business results through a combination of consulting, technology, and managed services. i2 solutions are pervasive in a wide cross-section of industries; 21 of the AMR Research Top 25 Global Supply Chains belong to i2 customers.

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