On Building Self-Learning Supply Chains

JDA Software is a global supply chain software provider, based out of Arizona, USA, present in over 40 locations worldwide, and over 4,000 customers globally run JDA’s end-to-end solutions to unify and shorten supply chains, increase speed and execution and profitably deliver to their customers. JDA has invested the last 30 years on supply chain and retail merchandising solutions. The company serves the entire supply-chain from manufacturing and retail to third-party logistics. In an exclusive interaction with Dataquest, Niranjan Thirumale, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Global Centers of Excellence (India, Poland, and Mexico), JDA Software talks about digital transformation, JDA Luminate, the first-of-its-kind portfolio of next-generation solutions. Excerpts:

Q. What solutions do you provide to drive digital transformation for the Indian retail ecosystem? 

At JDA, we are extending our industry-leading capabilities by further embedding digital edge technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics within supply chain functions. All three areas in which we mainly operate, like manufacturing, third-party logistics, and retail are growing rapidly in India. However, their requirements are different, with retailers focused on consumer insight, manufacturers focused on cognitive demand and planning using things like weather and social networking data, while third-party logistics companies are focused on IoT and big data.

When it comes to India, data analytics and cognitive algorithms can help Indian companies completely transform themselves. There is a lot of research and innovation that is happening around the world in this field that Indian companies can easily adopt and transform. JDA’s SaaS-based offering allows businesses to pilot and then rollout. It aligns with the preferred buying behavior of try-before-you-buy that we usually see. It also allows businesses to experiment with many use cases and ideas and to discover success/ failure faster.

We recently announced, JDA Luminate, the first-of-its-kind portfolio of next-generation solutions and core product enhancements. It is built on an open, cognitive, and connected platform that embraces digital edge technologies as noted above. This offers an intelligent way to predict and shape demand, fulfil faster and deliver seamless customer experiences.

With JDA Luminate, we are bringing to market new SaaS and Edge applications across the supply chain, retail planning, execution and delivery areas. For example, JDA Luminate ControlTower builds upon real-time visibility across the extended supply chain, enabling cognitive insights across planning and execution, collaboration across multiple enterprises, combined with machine learning based prescriptive issue resolution. This in association with our other offerings like Luminate Demand, Luminate Supply, Luminate StrategicPlanning, Luminate Factory, Luminate Warehouse, Luminate Transport, Luminate StoreOptimizer, and Luminate Assortment furthers our vision of powering the next-generation supply chain, which is connected, intelligent and autonomous. As one can predict, innovation will drive this shift toward the digital supply chain transformation.

Q. How do you evaluate digital transformation? Today it seems to have become confusing, meaning different things to different people?

We can see that Manufacturing, 3PL and Retail companies with sufficient scale and complexity will need to digitally transform or they will be left behind. They need to be data-oriented, they need to use powerful software to analyze the data and then use the insights to drive their business. While all aspects of the business have the potential to digitally transform – from customer experience to automating operations – we believe that the use of the right integrated supply chain software will change the business processes to deliver an extremely significant amount of ROI.

Q. How do you use AI and machine learning in your applications?

Modern machines are already transmitting status and performance information to central tower systems that companies today use to monitor their supply chain. We have recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire Blue Yonder, the market leader in artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for retail. Based in Karlsruhe, Germany, Blue Yonder has assembled one of the largest teams of PhDs/data scientists focused on supply chain and retail merchandising. This acquisition reflects the increasing importance of connecting intelligent data and insights to enable more profitable, Autonomous Supply Chain decisions and optimized customer experiences. It builds on JDA’s strategy of developing cognitive and connected solutions to power digital transformations for companies seeking to create a competitive advantage for their supply chains. The acquisition is subject to competition agency approval. Read JDA’s Press Release on Blue Yonder acquisition

We have also formed a multi-year collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on joint research to create new and innovative capabilities within the supply chain, utilizing intelligent edge technologies like machine learning, AI, IoT and advanced analytics. We are investing in building a partner ecosystem of hardware vendors and solution integrators to drive innovation in the above areas besides extending solution functionality and benefits for our customers. As shared earlier, JDA’s next generation technologies will have AI and machine learning besides IoT among others deeply embedded in it. The CoEs in India at Bengaluru and Hyderabad contribute significantly in this area besides playing a role in supporting our overall digital transformation strategy. For India, JDA’s new solutions will help retailers, manufacturers and third-party logistics providers realize the dream of digital supply chain today.

Q. Any other information that you would like to share?

We are a supply chain software company, but we’re really more than that. Our associates, vast majority of them, who are operations research, math, data science, scientists, experts are focused on workflows across manufacturing, execution, warehouse distribution, fleets and out into delivery intro retail stores. We are focussed on workflows and optimising them. We firmly believe that JDA is a culture, not a company. A culture guided by our core values that promote teamwork, innovation, and results in everything we do. We are a cross-cultural community of the brightest of technology and supply chain professionals who are transforming our vision into reality. We are just a group of inquisitive individuals who like to solve complex business problems for our customers and who take great pride in setting forth how to transform the global business environment by creating the autonomous supply chain.

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