Supply Chain Matters continues to advocate that when considerations concern a goal for an end-to-end value-chain information integration strategy, supply chain teams that deal with complex, global-based process integration should give consideration to adopting an end-to-end B2B backbone platform. Such a backbone needs to transcend beyond mere EDI transactional or P2P procurement processes and include much broader supply chain process and information integration support that captures as much of the value-chain that is feasible.

As an industry analyst at AMR Research back in 2000 (not Gartner as it is today), I was one of a small handful of analysts that introduced the first iterations of so-termed trading or industry exchanges to the market.  Most of these were about transactional connectivity across supplier networks with some purchasing services.  Very view survived, mainly those that focused on solving broader supply chain information integration problems. Quite a lot has changed in over a decade, both on the vendor and technology innovation fronts.

For our part, Supply Chain Matters will continue to provide education and awareness to various B2B technology capabilities concerning such platforms along with the potential value that they can provide.

We recently had the opportunity to be briefed by SERUS, a one too many cloud-based B2B platform provider catering to the unique support capabilities for the needs of high-tech and consumer electronics supply chains. This provider started its efforts supporting needs among semiconductor industry supply chains where there are characteristics of complex value-chain routings within a primarily outsourced supply chain network that is intensely product-driven. Product information in the form of specifications, schedule milestones and engineering changes are in a constant state of movement.  The need is often to connect product design and management directly with mostly outsourced fab production, test and assembly partners. The platform must further be able to interface and provide structured and unstructured information insights among various existing planning and fulfillment applications. SERUS has now transitioned its experience in semiconductor to target other high tech industry customers and B2B value-chains. This provider currently cites approximately 400 suppliers on its network. Named lighthouse customers include Juniper, HP, Nvidia, Sun Division of Oracle, Qualcomm/Atheros, among others.

One of the more interesting capabilities of SERUS is its concentration in actionable intelligence and analytics capabilities.  Much of this functionality is provided by an OEM agreement with Tableau Software, which was recently ranked among other vendors in the leaders quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms. According to Gartner, Tableau achieved above-average ratings for reporting and ad-hoc query, and a top ranking for dashboard, business user mash-up and data visualization capabilities.  Supply Chain Matters will provide a separate commentary concerning Tableau.

This platform provider has another partnership with GT Nexus to augment supply chain logistics and execution coordination and control needs, and go-to-market partnership with AT Kearney.

In addition to Visibility and Intelligence, other applications making up the SERUS Virtual Manufacturing and Supply Chain System are Design for Manufacturing and Supplier Contract Compliance application support.

In last year’s edition of our Supply Chain Matters Predictions for Global Supply Chains, we noted that products have become more technologically sophisticated and today incorporate broader combinations of physical hardware, bundled software and services components. Product design, customer fulfillment, satisfaction and service now umbrella many more functionally driven activities and the supply chain now finds itself involved, either voluntarily, or involuntarily, in each of these various dimensions. Retail, B2B, and B2C online fulfillment supply chains also find themselves dealing with many other moving parts in coordinating an on-time and complete customer shipment or responding to customer service requests. While suppliers are often reluctant to share certain information regarding quality and conformance, a product recall event is literally too late in the process and to damaging to the brand to experience a major component or process defect. For all the above reasons, and others, we predicted that in 2013, the executive level voice and shared accountability of the supply chain organization will further extend itself into the areas of product and service lifecycle management.

While we admittedly may have been slightly pre-mature in the timing, product innovation focused supply chains are clearly more challenged in the ability to integrate product information with manufacturing and other supply chain business process needs.  Having a B2B collaboration platform that considers such needs is a definite consideration. Our impression of SERUS is that they “get-it”, in the sense of integrating product management with other process coordination needs across a  primarily outsourced value-chain.

Bob Ferrari