The move represents i2's first foray into the order management market, which is heating up as companies that have invested in supply chain management (SCM) move to manage order processing among multiple enterprises.
i2's Five.Two suite features a new order management application, a procurement solution with integrated indirect and direct purchasing functionality, and an enhanced inventory visibility product. These offerings and i2's other products will be built on the company's new XML-based common integration architecture, featuring a revamped user interface.
While enterprise resource management (ERP) systems focus on handling transactions within a single enterprise and SCM technology hones in on managing supplier relationships, i2's distributed order management product lets companies manage transactions that span multiple enterprises, said Katrina Roche, i2's chief marketing officer.
The product is targeted at companies with multiple instances of ERP, which require that a separate order be placed for each product made by a separate division, she said.
"[Enterprise users] want the customer to be able to place a single order. Once we finish that order, they want to know what is the most profitable way to ship it out. We've got integration to the transportation systems, and billing and accounts receivable," said Roche.
Aberdeen Group analyst Tim Minahan said companies with outsourced distributors and multiple sales channels increasingly are turning to multi-enterprise order management solutions.
"They're able to take those orders from multiple channels and also be able to determine if they can fulfil those orders," he said.
One of i2's closest competitors, Yantra, has also released a multi-enterprise order management offering and recently added Target to its growing list of customers.
Because of the complexity of managing an order among various partners, order management has become the single largest cost for many companies to manage the supply chain, said Devdutt Yellurkar, president and chief executive of Yantra.
"As the demand ripples through [multiple enterprises], you require one single system that sits on top of all these ERP systems and supply chain systems, and extracts data," he said.
Outsourced logistics provider APL Logistics uses Yantra's distribution system to manage the fulfilment of its direct logistics subsidiary.
The solution allows APL to provide its clients with complete visibility of orders and inventory across their entire fulfilment network, said Sally Miller, APL's director of IT.
"It allows us to perform order management services, for our customers to be able to accept orders from multiple channels and to be able to source those orders," Miller said.