Multiple months of global recession have presented significant supply chain challenges for many organizations, but the most prevalent has been inventory management and the crucial need for optimizing overall inventory levels.  As we have noted many times in this blog, advanced inventory optimization technology has been instrumental in helping companies save significant money in overall inventory investment.  Up to this point, this technology generally was available to large businesses, but that situation is changing, and mid-market manufacturers, retailers and wholesales should take note.

In a recent posting, we noted that inventory optimization provider Optiant was acquired by Logility, a supply chain technology provider that specializes in mid-market planning needs.  (Disclaimer: this author was a former Vice-President at Optiant). Logility has indicated that it will offer Optiant’s inventory optimization applications as Voyager Inventory Optimization within the existing Logility Voyager Solutions Suite.

This week brings another important announcement that should capture the interest of mid-market companies. Inventory optimization provider ToolsGroup, a previous competitor to Optiant, and Italian based MHT are announcing a new demand planning and inventory optimization application alternative for Microsoft Dynamics AX suite. This application which has the funky name of SO99AX is being positioned as a replacement or enhancement for Microsoft Dynamics AX Demand Planner 2.0, and combines demand planning, inventory optimization and replenishment planning in a single planning application. It incorporates a rather unique ToolsGroup probability engine that addresses variability, randomness and lumpy demand, the same type of planning engine in use at many large scale customers of ToolsGroup. In essence, this application can provide mid-market companies with complex demand and inventory challenges in a singular planning application that can oversee both demand and inventory optimization. While I have not had the opportunity to actually view this application, I’m told by Jeff Bodenstab, Vice President of Marketing for ToolsGroup that the application provides rather sophisticated capabilities along with a very user friendly user interface.

I have long advocated that mid-market manufacturers and retailers would benefit by an integrated planning application that provides essential yet more sophisticated supply chain demand and inventory planning capabilities, and it is great to observe that there are now new options available in the market.  While ToolsGroup would not discuss pricing and deployment strategy, I trust that they will price this new application within the reach of mid-market enterprises.

For readers who are speculating on the funky name, I was informed that the name SO99AX is supposed to represent service levels of 99% with Dynamics AX. I suppose this is what happens when software developers get carried away with acronyms.

If any Supply Chain Matters readers are attending the current Microsoft Convergence 2010 conference in Atlanta, it would be great if you could share any of your initial impressions of SO99AX.

Bob Ferrari