This past April, this Editor attended JDA Software’s annual Focus customer conference.  Among the notable impressions we walked away with was the announcement of a new partnership with Google and the Google Cloud Platform as a cloud services platform to leverage technology innovation.

Today, as a prelude to next week’s National Retail Federation (NRF) annual conference, JDA announced another step in its relationship and collaboration with Google, one that should capture the interest of retailers.

My takeaway from Focus 2015 held in April was that JDA was investing heavily in “true cloud” technology, something one could not report from previous Focus events. I walked away with a distinct impression that the Google partnership had the potential to lead to exciting new applications of information discovery and leveraged use of more predictive analytics across the end-to-end supply chain.

Google’s strengths are in the indexing of large volumes of data and information, in large scale parallel processing and in infinite scale computing.  One could consider Google to be a late entrant to the cloud platform environment with the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM, Microsoft and Oracle already having a market presence.  But then again, late entrants have the benefit of learning from others and have the zeal to want to make a market statement, which Google has never shied away from.  To this author’s knowledge, this is also Google’s first presence in retail and supply chain business process needs.

Today’s announcement is that JDA’s retail planning application “Retail me” will be the first application jointly developed by JDA Labs and Google. Initial functionality is focused in retail assortment planning across all selling channels.  JDA’s describes the data design principle as more focused on product and customer as contrasted with a traditional planning focus on individual stores.

Retail assortment planning has often been anchored in the principle that the retailer plans and decides on the specific merchandise that consumers will buy, while merchandising and supply chain teams insure that inventory is populated at the right stores.  Omni-channel fulfillment changes this planning approach dramatically since the consumer interacts with a retailer from multiple channels and in multiple ways, and the primary information is online.

Leveraging Google’s data algorithms has the potential to analyze significant volumes of point-of-sale (POS) transactional data as well as product search query data to determine specific customer profile and buying patterns. Leveraging data on where and when the customer interacts with the retailer coupled with customer profile data adds more meaningful customer-centric predictive intelligence. The leveraging of JDA’s application knowledge and experience accumulated across its various Retail and supply chain management applications adds the other dimension to this new approach.

Later this year, more applications functionality is planned for in areas of merchandise financial planning, promotion management, inventory placement and other forms of distribution and supply chain planning.

It is an interesting approach that brings together strengths in data analysis and predictive technologies with expertise in retail and supply chain management, surely one that retailers should pay attention to over the coming weeks.

Bob Ferrari

Disclosure: JDA Software is one of other sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters blog.