When many people think of the cloud, they think of fast, low-cost deployments of relatively simple applications, not complex, game-changing systems like supply chain management. Supply Chain Nation asked Serge Massicotte, JDA’s chief technology officer, for his thoughts on this matter. In parts I and II of this blog series, Massicotte shared his thoughts on SaaS and cloud deployments and the associated benefits. In this final post he will give his thoughts on what this means for the future.
SCN: Looking three to five years down the road, what will be the impact of cloud deployments on companies’ ability to compete and grow?
I think this is huge. Let me start with the fact that we can deploy patches and upgrades. This enables our customers to be very agile because of faster adoption. They can quickly embrace new features that we deploy. The ability to access and leverage new features makes companies very competitive and gives them an edge over other companies in the world. That model of having a faster innovation cycle gives companies a platform from which they can innovate internally and be more effective than anybody else.
Another important thing about cloud deployment is it enables customers to share data with other customers. That is, there is an opportunity to share data beyond customer boundaries, which can be used to grow top-line revenue. For instance, imagine that a third party logistics customer publishes his distribution center locations in JDA’s cloud and shares that information with other JDA cloud customers. You can imagine all of these logistics providers who can bid on transportation because the information is out there in the cloud network. You are not just working alone in a silo, you can share information and interact with external parties. For example, I have to ship goods from LA to New York. What is the best cost for doing this right now? So you can see whether what you are paying is too much or you have a good deal with a third party logistics provider.
The next point is the potential with big data. You can imagine JDA providing benchmarks and indexes on data across all customers willing to participate. For example, JDA could provide benchmarks around the cost of moving goods from point A to point B. You could have a similar thing with the cost of raw materials when it relates to manufacturing. Those benchmarks will tell you whether you are paying too much or you have good deals so you can negotiate the best value for what you have to achieve. They could tell you whether your company is competitive on the market, as well.
The last point is in terms of indexes. You have indexes on the stock market. What I would like to see down the road in five years is JDA indexes. An index would provide the level of activity in a given segment in retail and the supply chain. Such an index would be calculated based on the data we have and the number of transactions going through in our cloud. Hence, it is not the data from a single customer; it is the value of aggregating information across all of the JDA customers. That is going to be a big transformation.