I have spent most of my professional career providing Business Transformational solutions. A significant amount of that time has been spent on providing enterprises with Value Chain and or Supply Chain Planning solutions based on software provided by well-known companies such as Oracle or even custom solutions in a few cases. I have observed that most of the current solutions exhibit the following characteristics: They generally tend to be very expensive in terms of start-up implementation as well as maintenance They are primarily built for tight integrations with the underlying ERP systems and thus end-up being difficult to use and not providing the overall value that they promise Their vaunted sophisticated algorithms for managing demand and supply do not really work well for business users because the business users end up spending far too much time verifying output data rather than being able to take required business actions immediately Finally, last but not the least, most of these solutions fail to meet the test of enabling exception based planning which is a very common desire that I have heard from almost every planning leader. The deficiencies noted above become increasingly important in today’s complex value chains and supply chains which require the ability to quickly monitor existing supply chain plans and react with appropriate and timely actions to avoid disruptions and undesirable impact to both top and bottom line. Only solutions that  enable exception based planning with seamless , secure and yet loosely coupled collaboration where business users can focus only on truly actionable information will meet these needs. Fundamentally these will force redefinition of supply chain planning solution architectures which will need to handle the convergence of concurrent optimization, unstructured text mining, usage of streaming data and sensing, and cognitive learning (machine learning) while maintaining performance, security and enabling collaboration at the same time. I believe that these forms of innovation will be required to handle the needs of modern supply chain whether it is to support Omnichannel needs of the retail supply chain or the needs of the High Tech customers who have myriad combinations of offerings.  In these scenarios typically enterprises want to offer multiple offerings to their customers but at the same time desire to avoid stressing their supply chains with rapid changes in demand and supply situations. Since such scenarios cannot be practically avoided a solution or set of solutions that enables these to be handled effectively will be widely adopted. Below are few key elements that are required for solutions that need to support today and tomorrows rapidly evolving value chains: Have the ability to easily capture multiple sets of data (structured transactional, machine generated data (IOE-IOT), unstructured streaming data) without enforcing tight integrations while maintaining the security for data capture. Enable a secure collaborative platform with ease of managing subscription for access to capabilities Multiple input demand management with ability to aggregate and dis-aggregate demand information and ability to analyze and manage demand exceptions based on multiple factors such as forecast, accuracy, impact on operational KPIs (revenue, margins), ability to project correlations between demand sources and offering types (through machine learning). Ability to perform a multi-level comprehensive supply chain demand supply balancing taking into account known and projected constraints with a true exception based business friendly signals for managing potential shortages and preventing excess inventory build-up at any node in the supply chain for a desired service level or set of service levels within the value chain. Provide this information anytime, anyplace and on any device thus providing the ability for the supply chain participants to easily collaborate with each other (email, call, chat) for a truly responsive solution. There are very few solutions in the market today that can begin to meet all of these needs. Anaplan is gaining some traction with customers due to its ability to collaboratively handle the Demand Planning and Financial Planning very well. However it does not meet all the needs of a true end to end supply chain solution that is highly responsive for the following reasons: Its ability to take its excellent demand planning output and use it to elements of Supply Chain planning such as any lower level Demand Supply balancing (example – Component Planning) is highly limited. This means Anaplan’s ability to highlight and prevent typical issues seen as a result of bullwhip impact of demand changes across the supply chain is highly limited (example inability to anticipate shortage of unique parts or critical components). In addition it is also not a true supply chain collaborative platform (for example it is unable to integrate with google apps for collaboration) and it does not enable easy and secure loading of data by Supply Chain partners. Therefore, Anaplan is mostly a replacement for an offline, excel based planning solution, but is not a true end to end robust Supply Chain Planning solution. This is where Planning in a Box comes in. Planning in a Box has all the feature sets that are required for supply chain planning solutions for today and tomorrow, and it also addresses all the gaps currently identified above in Anaplan. Interested in participating in our beta?

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