Manhattan Exchange 2022 – Making the impossible possible

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Supply chain, omnichannel and inventory software solutions provider, Manhattan Associates, held its 2022 Exchange event at Kosmos in Berlin this month. Exchange draws together the company’s community of customers and partners from across EMEA to learn about Manhattan’s latest innovations, hear about industry trends and share best practices.

Speakers included representatives from a number of leading brands including Scotch & Soda, Asda, Aldi and Royal Canin who shared insights and experiences from their recent transformation projects involving Manhattan solutions. 

Blurred lines 

Manhattan Associates’ president and CEO, Eddie Capel, said after three years since the last physical Manhattan Exchange that he could really feel the buzz in the air, with all kinds of discussions about what Manhattan Associates has been up to and how the delegate customers have been continuing to blur the lines between impossible and possible. “Everybody here is in a leadership role guiding some of the most powerful influential and respected organisations in the world,” he said, adding that these mission-critical delegates were certainly a lot wiser in the aftermath of pandemics, lockdowns, inventory shortages, labour shortages and geopolitical strife. Capel made the point that dealing with these types of challenges requires change. “Change is the place we go to level up,” he said. 

Capel explained how Manhattan has striven to meet customers’ changing requirements in a more challenging supply chain landscape. “You needed faster and more convenient pick-up and delivery options and wanted to control the process themselves. So, we helped you enable 13,000 additional locations with store fulfilment capabilities and created a whole series of self-service tools that your customers accessed more than 1 million times just last year,” he said. 

When Manhattan customers said they needed better and more accurate promising of when and where and how customers get their orders, Capel said Manhattan enhanced promising speed and sourcing accuracy with in-memory hashing and machine learning inside of order management increasing carte conversions and reducing split shipments by more than 25%. Similarly, when customers needed better tracking of in-transit items and a real understanding of the cost to get items to their specific destination, Capel explained that Manhattan added more partner visibility inside of transportation management. 

 

Brian Kinsella, SVP of product management at Manhattan Associates, explains some of the latest features of the company’s solutions at Manhattan Exchange 2022.

New capabilities every 90 days 

Capel also pointed out that when customers didn’t want to wait longer than necessary for new features and capabilities inside new solutions and didn’t want system upgrades to be too expensive and take too much time to go live Manhattan created what he considers to be the most advanced technology platform in the industry. “We re-engineered supply chains right on top of our technology platform and now we deliver new features and new capabilities every 90 days, and you'll never ever have to perform a system upgrade ever again,” he said. 

However, Capel added that there are some things that won't ever change, such as Manhattan’s commitment to invest in R&D. “We have pushed past the $0.5 billion investment in research and development over the past seven years, so I can assure you that our commitment to engineering innovation that sparks innovation within your teams, unlocking those silos that limit your potential and fostering exceptional experiences for your customers is unwavering.” This, he said, starts with a technology cornerstone for transformational change, and that's Manhattan’s Active platform. “Without it, everything else that we are going to explore together at this event is frankly impossible.” 

Capel said Manhattan has an unwavering commitment to create technology that enables customers to obscure the line between impossible and possible and enable them to reset their own customers’ expectations. “Almost a decade ago, we really recognised that the legacy technology architectures of the ’90s and the early 2000s were going to inhibit your ability to match the accelerating pace of change in the market,” he said. “The first thing we noticed was that there was a growing redundancy across the solutions that were out there. Even today, in typical best-of-breed digital ecosystems you'll see functions like payments and shopping carts and shipping and scheduling and customer history that are duplicated over and over again. And one of the fastest ways to kill speed and get new features to market is having to replicate it, integrate it, test it again and again.” 

Capel added that another issue was the sheer size of some of the old applications. “Typical applications have bulked up over time and become great monolithic behemoths,” he said. “Even some small change could require months of regression testing to ensure something completely unrelated to that change doesn't create a regression break.” 

Eddie Capel, Manhattan Associates’ president and CEO, giving his keynote presentation during Manhattan Exchange 2022 in Berlin.

Fresh start 

So, Capel explained that Manhattan had had enough. He said supply chain professionals were tired of waiting so long – sometimes years – for new features and were tired of worrying about scaling the peak seasons whenever they might come. Capel said they were also tired of how difficult it was to customise those monolithic solutions. “So, we started completely over again, letting go of that legacy architecture,” he explained. “We broke supply chain down into the smallest capability components possible creating hundreds of individual micro-services inside of the Manhattan Active platform, and once we did that it gave us all kinds of freedoms; freedom to assemble new experiences and outcomes much faster than we were ever able to do before. In fact, now we really have no need to build standalone applications, at least not in the way that we thought of them before because every component is part of the shared application platform.” 

Capel pointed out that there is no duplication and no redundancy. “It means if you've got a shipment planning capability in warehouse management whether you ship from the distribution centre or whether you ship from store, the parcel shipping component is exactly the same. It means that point of sale and order management share the exact same services, payments, promotions, customers, items and everything else. Business functions and configuration capability is accessible through fully open APIs removing that rigidity that we saw with monolithic applications. And right now, we've got about 1000 of the best supply chain engineers in the world developing and extending these components to deliver new capabilities into the field every 90 days. There are all kinds of companies working very hard now to keep up with adopting the capabilities that we are delivering to market, but we didn't just design our Manhattan Active technology just so we could easily change it – we engineered it so you could too.”

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