The Infosys global supply chain management blog enables leaner supply chains through process and IT related interventions. Discuss the latest trends and solutions across the supply chain management landscape.

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March 30, 2012

Challenges Faced By E-Retailers in India

In my previous blog, I highlighted the factors which helped e-commerce retailing develop in India. Today consumers are powered with loads of choices for selection of the product they are looking for.  They are actually able to compare the products, look for availability of the product, get detailed information about the product, check prices at various online websites selling the specific product and also look for attractive offers. Consumers get their choice of goods as well get satisfied with the price they pay. Now from e-retailers perspective, above are the must have in order to be competitive and increase sales. But for e-retailers to survive they also need to maintain healthy profitability month on month by creating awareness among customers to visit their website and convert visits into sales. There are some of the major challenges which e-retailers face in India to be competitive in their business.

Margins -
All e-retailers want to maintain good margin on all categories of products. But due to intense competition and getting higher sales, they tend to decrease their margins and offer the products at discounted rates to customers. Basically they sell the products at Market Operating Price (MOP) or slightly higher. MOP is the least price set by brands at which dealer or retailer can sell the product. In a way this provides customer more savings in their basket. But from e-retailers point of view it gets challenging to continuously offer products at low prices though on the other hand they are able to keep sales ticking with these prices.

E-retailers always negotiate hard with distributors so that they can garner higher margin. But if they continue selling at MOP they would lesser their leverage of profitability and will have to depend on the funding to scale their business.

Availability of Products -
Online customers are target oriented shoppers. If they don't find what they are looking for they would immediately switch to another website. E-retailers tie up with different distributors to make sure they can get stock of products when they require.  There is high value items for which the demand is unpredictable. It would be highly unlikely e-retailers would order high value items in bulk from supplier and stock at their warehouse. In such cases they keep only limited stock of high value items or in some cases no stock and  tie up with distributors/ vendors to have stock, so that if high value item orders are placed it can be fulfilled on time. The challenge arises when the regular distributors or supplier does not have the stock, and it has to be arranged from other distributors.

There must be forecasting done for each of the products. Based on this e-retailers can have at least minimum stock maintained at distributors to avoid stock out situation.

Logistics and supply constraint for e-retailers -
There are orders from metro cities and also from far off places. Increase in supply of products and lack of logistics in far off places can be a challenge for e-retailers. Few e-retailers have their own logistics network for intra-city and rely on third party services for inter-city. Others depend totally upon Third Party Service Providers (TPSP).  Having warehouse at all places is also not cost effective solution. TPSP mostly use surface network to deliver the goods as this is the choice provided by e-retailers to keep their distribution cost low. Utilizing air network for delivery would be more costly.

The challenge for e-retailer is to provide timely delivery at far off places. Each TPSP have their own strength based on their delivery network and serviceable locations. Some pin codes can only be serviced by few TPSP. It would make sense for the e-retailer to tie up with 3 or 4 service provider based on his serviceable location pin code. E-retailers can carry out a one to one mapping for pin-code and service providers, which would be unique. Hence when the customer places the orders, based on his address pin-code automatically a delivery request will be directed to the concerned TPSP. Customer could eventually track their orders in third party service provider's website by providing the Way Bill number or Order number.

The above are my views. Please fill free to write about other challenges from your experience or views which the online retailers are facing.

Preventing Failed Deliveries...

Soaring demand for home delivery is not in dispute, but doing it profitably still remains the elusive golden chalice - much to the frustration of consumers, retailers and carriers alike. The major reason of higher home delivery cost for retailers is the number of orders that are not delivered in first attempt. Failed deliveries have always been a cause for concern but recently it has become more significant due to the increase in the number of people shopping from home. According to IMRG press release, retailers in UK alone loose nearly GBP 1 billion due to failed home deliveries. Of the total number of home delivery orders, about 17% orders are not delivered successfully in the first attempt, simply because there is nobody at home to collect the delivery.

From retailers' perspective, failed deliveries don't just add up to the cost. Delivery experience and delivery offer could influence home shoppers' choice of retailer and poor delivery experience may stop them shopping again with a particular retailer. There is a green angle as well. Multiple attempts to deliver a single order increases CO2 emission. From customers' point of view, a failed delivery means they have to collect the order from depot, thus missing the whole convenience of home delivery.

So, how should retailers plan home deliveries that are cost-effective to operate, yet meet the recipient's needs as precisely as possible? Do they need to relook at delivery related SOPs or they need a better route scheduler and order management systems? The probable answer is both.

A lot of retailers provide nothing better than the single option of a three- to five-day delivery window to the customers. Vague, week-long delivery windows are certainly no longer appropriate. The one-size-fits-all service needs to be replaced with a range of delivery options to suit different customer needs. Offering 1 hour delivery time slot with specific date or providing options like early morning delivery or late evening delivery will narrow down the chances of customer being out. For this retailers need a carrier capacity management system which can offer narrow delivery window and can monitor capacity availability for the time-slot.

Change in Standard Operating Procedure of order taking (at POS) to capture mobile phone number can result in lesser number of failed deliveries. Sometime back, when I was implementing order management solution for one of the home delivery retailers, my colleague from client team informed me that only 56% of their orders have mobile number captured on them. Considering that over 80% of population (in US and Europe) has access to mobile phone, this was one of roots causes of failed deliveries. Later, when SOPs were amended to capture mobile number at the time of taking order, client saw increase in successful first attempt deliveries. Mobile phones are great for contacting busy customers who are on the move. Getting in touch with customer the day before or on the day of delivery means customers are more likely to be at home when delivery van arrives.

Retailers can also look at alternate delivery options in case customer is not available at the time of delivery. Locker banks, Drop-off & Collection Shops, Technology Drop boxes or even leaving delivery to neighbors' doorsteps with prior permission from customer can help in reducing number of failed deliveries. In case retailer is using multiple third part carriers, providing customer an option of selecting carrier can be helpful. Customer may prefer a specific carrier over others (usually because the depot is too far away or they know that the service is wanting).

Finally, the key of achieving first-time deliveries is an effective communication with the consumer and a flexible approach. what do you say?

March 28, 2012

Bricks and Clicks - The New Business Model and Supply Chain Capability for Retail Industry

Guest Post by

Bob Ferrari, the Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters Blog, and a periodic guest blogger on the Infosys Supply Chain Management blog.

The Economist featured an article in its February 25th print edition with the title: Clicks and Bricks. The gist of this article is one that many business and industry analysts have been frequently dwelling upon, namely that retailers are feverishly trying to reinvent themselves for this rapidly changing new age of online shopping and multi-enterprise commerce.  The stark message delivered by the Economist was: "To build a profitable online business, retailers must integrate it seamlessly with the bricks-and-mortar operations.  Many keep them separate, increasing the risk that they fail to communicate or work together properly".

This fundamental reinvention comes with significant implications to current and future supply chain organizational, process and technology capabilities and investments.
The business reasons are compelling.  Readers who reside in the retail industry know all too well what the effects of more empowered and technology equipped consumers are having on the whole industry and on specific retail brands.  While retail sales in the U.S. have been relatively flat, online sales have been growing at double-digit rates.  The implications profoundly point to the reality that consumers prefer online tools and have shifted their shopping and buying preferences. One recent sobering statistic points to over 15 million downloads of the smartphone enabled Red Laser application which allows consumers to electronically read item codes and perform multi-channel price comparisons for the specific item.
Major retailers are readdressing business models to either emphasize more online sales or bring a balanced business strategy among brick and mortar and online sales channels. As an example, Macy's has embraced an "omnichannel" integration strategy that umbrellas television, online mail-order and retail store selling and service components.  To further rollout this strategy, Macy's is investing people and resources in online physical and technology resources to include building of a new logistics center while expanding an existing center, all directed at supporting higher volumes of online sales. Nordstrom was one of the first broad line department store chains to offer no-cost shipping and returns for online orders and is currently testing same-day delivery at a flat rate.
JC Penny recently launched a complete revamping of its store strategy, permanently lowering prices across the board with selling strategies positioning physical stores as boutique experience centers while offering broader assortments of direct ship items online.
Wal-Mart has enabled its shoppers the option to pick-up purchases from a nearby physical store or FedEx shipping location. Many of these new strategies converge on the importance of the "last mile" fulfillment with major logistics providers such as FedEx and UPS providing enhanced programs to increase shipment delivery visibility and allow consumers access to online shipment visibility tools.
Many in the industry believe that there is no single formula for success in this new evolving multi-channel commerce world and each retailer will have to continue to "tune-in" to customer needs and requirements and provide appropriate, differentiated capabilities that can best balance all physical and online assets.
These rapidly changing business strategies among retailers have direct impacts on existing and future supply chain management strategies.  Inventory management will take on new dimensions for optimizing both physical store and online fulfillment requirements with multi-tier optimization an essential component. Sourcing and transportation strategies need to balance the needs for lowest cost with newer dimensions of customer service and inventory visibility needs.  Investments in required new technology and systems will have to be evaluated with criteria that support a combination of brick and mortar outlet, online fulfillment and logistics service center needs.
The takeaway of this commentary is that with these rapidly changing retailer business models, organizations can no longer assume the same structures of accountability concerning supply chain support and fulfillment. Industry observers rightfully question whether having a separate online commerce or sales and marketing unit can achieve required combined customer support capabilities. I would argue that the same concerns apply to supply chain, planning, inventory and logistics management.
Retail supply chain management teams should be educating senior management on the synergies and process opportunities for leveraging the supply chain to be able to enhance these new 'clicks and bricks' business models. That includes an articulation of impact to desired business results in overall revenue as well as customer services. Any notion that the supply chain, with its associated business process, technology and systems capabilities will not play a key role is unfortunate, and there needs to be a singular voice and perspective for such capabilities. A technology investment should henceforth be evaluated on its abilities to support multi-dimensional aspects of selling and service needs for customers.

March 20, 2012

What does the future hold for brick and mortar stores?

A few months ago, I was looking to buy a laptop to replace my old desktop at home. I researched prices on most Indian online websites for the laptop configuration I wanted. I then walked into some of the stores near my house to compare prices in the stores for similar configuration, but more importantly, to "touch and feel" the product I was about to buy. Having inquired in 4-5 different stores, I returned home and ordered the laptop online. Compared to the stores, the price online was atleast 10% lower and the online retailer also threw in a free laptop bag and free 1 year subscription of an anti-virus software.

I did not realize at that point of time, but this is a low tech version of a phenomenon now referred to by one of the world's largest retailer as "show-rooming" - where the brick & mortar store of a retailer acts as a showroom for an online retailer. The retailer defined show-rooming as a "phenomenon where shoppers, typically with smartphones, scan barcodes in stores and then use a pricing application to review/compare prices with say, online retailers and then purchase the item from an online retailer." This, and associated external factors such as a slowing economy, rising unemployment and reduced consumer demand has forced many retailers to reduce costs by closing unprofitable stores in the recent past.

So what can retailers do to ensure their stores are not used as mere show-rooms?
• Become a true multi-channel enterprise.
o Provide a consistent shopping experience across channels
o Ensure consistent pricing across channels
o Consolidate inventory for fulfillment i.e. use of a single pool of inventory to promise and fulfill orders across multiple ordering channels
• Targeted promotions based on store location, customer shopping history etc.

However, the suggestions mentioned above come with their own associated costs and capital expenditure. Promotions may increase revenues but affect margins; building a unified ordering, fulfillment and delivery experience comes with its own lead time and expenditure. (Business re-alignments and IT infrastructure)

It will be interesting to see what steps traditional brick & mortar retailers take to protect their turf from online retailers while remaining profitable.

PS: As I was writing this blog, I also read about online e-commerce giants Amazon and Google's plans to open physical stores in Seattle and Dublin, Ireland respectively. Maybe brick & mortar stores will still be around for some time!

March 12, 2012

Flying Robots in a Warehouse?

Well, this may appear strange but having watched Vijay Kumar and his team's innovation on flying robots in TED - , it struck to me that these little robots can do wonders in warehousing operations. Let see how...

I can foresee these robots capable of carrying out these warehousing activities listed below, of course with some modifications in their design to pick and place items that have a definite shape and size:

1.Putaway  and Picking
This might not be quite practical for large, bulkier items though, but for items smaller in size and weight, it might work out well. In their current form, these could be employed for lifting smaller items using one or many of such robots as shown in TED's video. There would be an issue with the head space within the location for them to hover in case items need to be stacked one over the other within the location.

2.Check for Zero Stock 
Zero stock cycle count is triggered when the stock in a bin reaches zero quantity. A warehouse picker has to physically check the location and verify whether the location has actually reached zero stock level and report back to the system either by a scanner or a voice picking device or manually update the system. The flying robot, instead would fly to the location, look for stock through its onboard camera and transmit back to the WMS system whether the location has reached zero stock or not.  This saves human effort and time as well, especially for locations that are positioned at much higher heights in the warehouse.
These robots can be equipped with scanners for carrying out putaway and pick confirmations.  But the bar code on the item need to be visible to the robot once its putwayed or before its being picked. There may be a need to have multiple stickers of the same barcode to be pasted on the those sides of the item that are accessible to the robot's scanner after being putawayed. This will also make scanning  much easier for the robot during pick confirmation.

I am not sure how these robots would carry out a full-fledged cycle count, which means they have to either count using their onboard cameras (how do they count stacked items without lifting them?) or pick each item and place them in another bin while counting and replace then back into the original bin once the count has been completed. 

The idea of using these flying robots is not primarily to reduce manpower in the warehouse, but to carry out warehousing activities in a much faster, quicker and accurate manner.
This is my initial perception of what these amazing technological marvels can do in the WM space. Your thought's please. 

March 8, 2012

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 3 (Last Day)

Today was the last day of the conference and Pulse was open only until 4 PM. We saw large crowd coming to our booth which kept all of us busy throughout the day. We had our speaking session on our solution on Pipeline asset Integrity Management and some IBM meetings as well. A very packed day today and lots of running around from one room to another along with last minute rush on our booth made me lose my notepad on which I had my notes from general session in the morning.

On the last day of Pulse, morning General Session starts late by 1 hour due to previous night's Palooza event.  So, I got some time for extra sleep. Cloudy sky today with some drop in temperature. General session started with host Scott Hebner inviting Helene Armitage and Erich Clementi who spoke about their groups which are Software Technology Group and Global Technology Services respectively.

Next was Manoj Saxena - GM IBM Watson, explaining how Watson is going to benefits the humanity with its innovation. Manoj explained in details how Watson helps in diagnosis of medical illness with its artificial intelligence and analytics capability. Watson has 41 sub-systems within it for hardware, software, analytics and many others, which explains the complexity. This was a real marvelous concept. While returning from the session, a Canadian friend of mine mentioned that this was probably the real smartest solution from IBM.

Towards, end of General Session, IBM fellow Grady Booch interviewed Steve Wozniak, Apple' co-founder and this was amazing. Interestingly, today Apple is launching its iPad 3 in California and Woz was with us in Veags. Vow!!! Very candid responses from Woz on his life, how he was helping kids in education, his days with Hewlett-Packards, his inventions, his passion about developing computer games, extremely hard work he put in to be successful, his dancing with stars and of course Steve Jobs.

I remember, many years ago somebody complementing Nandan Nilekani (Infosys co-founder), about many dignitaries visits to Infosys campus, which includes Presidents, Prime-ministers of many countries, Bill Gates, Michael Dell and many other famous personalities. Nandan's reply was that his goal would be completed only when he sees Steve Jobs visiting Infosys campus. Alas, this remains an unfulfilled goal. We all miss Steve Jobs. A great visionary he was.
Another interesting thought from Woz was that in future he needs to see "answer engines" and not "search engines", where he can speak a question and get the answer without googling.

Could not attend any session today as we had our speaking slot on Pipeline Integrity Management solution and also some our existing clients and analysts were scheduled to visit our booth.

During our Pipeline Integrity Management solution, Sandeep presented problems which worldwide oil & gas pipeline operators have in terms of risks which can have damages to people and property, and Infosys solution around it which is being built on Maximo. I briefly touched upon how Maximo and other peripheral systems are being utilized here.

Met few of our clients at our booth from oil & gas, manufacturing and transportation areas and listened to them. It is always good to listen to client's complaints along with appreciations. Their complaints and new requirements help us in improving ourselves and finally deliver more values to our clients and have them successful, which we aim for.

At the end, the meeting which I was waiting for a long time. We had Ralph Rio coming to our booth and listen to Sohel and I about or Maximo practice. Ralph is from ARC Advisory group and probably the only well know analyst who is tracking asset management now these days very actively.  I have been in touch with him for last one year but have never made face to face. A very brief meeting with him as Expo Theater was closing and we agreed to do a joint webinar along with him.

With this, good bye to Pulse 2012 and look forward to attend next year (3rd Mar to 6th Mar 2013) with a better planning and look forward to meet all my peers, friends, clients once again. See you all next year.

March 7, 2012

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 2

Suddenly woke up at 3 AM and could not sleep further. Seems I am having jet leg after 3 days of my travel, not sure how my body's chemistry work. Finished some work, emails.  Saw the sun rising from behind the mountain. Googled some review comments for my hotel - Tropicana, and people have totally different views on sun rise. Nobody wanted to have sun rays coming to Tropicana hotel room and wake them up. After all who wants to wake up early, after spending enough time and money previous night on slots machines in Sin City. It is only people like me who come to Vegas to attend these annual conferences on a business visit and attend stream of sessions, meetings and have to finish their regular office work as well. In spite of all of these, we all love to come back to Pulse again and again, year after year. Gopi GR, our previous Maximo practice head who also incubated Maximo practice within Infosys, yesterday said it is like an annual pilgrimage for maximo folks. For me, it is meeting my clients, friends and learn new Maximo and related products advancements.

Attended general session where Scott Hebner, VP-IBM thanked all business partners and some of the business partner's videos were shown speaking about IBM relationship. It was pleasant surprise to see my friend Alan Cambridge from UK talking as a maximo business partner. He started his own maximo consulting business in UK.

Steve Mills, SVP IBM software and systems spoke about how smarter planet solutions are increasing demand for IT solutions but IT budgets are growing less than 0.8% per year. Organizations are spending more money in maintenance of servers than on procurement. Steve further spoke about how IBM, which has huge IT infrastructure, did lots of standardization and consolidation to reduce number of applications. It was surprising to know that IBM had 15000 applications in 1997 and reduced to 4500 today; resulting into a dramatic TCO reduction. IBM brought cloud technologies in action, sharing of resources to achieve all of these.

Then Bob Picciano - GM IBM Software Sales invited a panel of IBM clients from different industries to share their experiences on IBM products as used by them. These clients mainly spoke how Cloud Computing, Physical Infrastructure, Infrastructure virtualization and mobility is helping them in running their day to day business.
Then stage by illuminated by iLuminate which was really amazing. Watch them online at

Next was Jamie Thomas, VP- Tivoli Strategy and Development. She announced various new IBM products. She also mentioned that IBM believes in learning from its clients then feed client's requirements into IBM's research & development teams. I myself have seen this very closely during Maximo O&G industry solution development. She announced multiple new products- Smart Cloud Control Desk which would include ITAM, Change and Release Management, Configuration Management, Service Requests and Incident & Problem Reporting, Smart Cloud Monitoring & Provisioning, Smart Cloud Continuous delivery which is in beta release, Smart Cloud Virtual Storage, Service Management extensions for hybrid cloud. Interesting point is that all of these are being used by IBM itself for its own operations.

There were few more around End Point Manager which is built on recently acquired BigFix and IBM worklight which is also a recent acquisition.
Had to leave the session in between to attend an important client meeting.  Will catch up with my friends about new announcements on Maximo and Tririga.
Attended another session which was presented by three utilities companies on how they use Maximo functionality to address regulatory requirements.  These were mainly achieved by using workflow, escalations, email notifications etc.

Met another friend of mine from Poland at lunch table who made my day by saying that I look younger; my wife wouldn't agree though. Last I met him two years ago in same event.

Didn't find much useful sessions today, hence spent time on booth attending clients. Attended couple of universities Maximo clients, which was a new trend. Haven't seen  many university clients coming to Pulse earlier. Universities mainly use Maximo for procurement, inventory, facility management, new project management etc.
Also noticed lots of small Maximo system integrator companies are arriving in market - each having its own set of tools and accelerators. Most of these are very small - 5 to 50 employee companies and they do provide only Maximo services. Many of them had their booths in Pulse. Some of the names were new to me.

Infosys team also attended some significant executive level meetings with IBM which were quite useful.

Day ended early today at 6 PM due to Pulse Palooza which I along with few of my Infosys colleagues skipped in order to watch KA - Cirque Du Soleil Las Vegas at MGM Grand  A grand spectacular show which cannot be described in words. Ticket price made a big hole in pocket (at-least mine) but worth watching.

March 6, 2012

Leveraging Social Media for Improving Forecast Reliability

One of the greatest challenges that complex supply chains of the companies today face are accurate forecasting and demand planning. In this context, the social media can be leveraged effectively to analyze customer data and achieve more insight on forecasting, planning, scheduling and inventory management. For example,  imagine if it was possible to predict   the percentage of customers that were interested in buying a black colored Reebok T-shirt against a brown colored one or to predict the percentage of customers interested in buying a sportz model of a car versus an another model. This would help to stock appropriate quantity of inventory and also facilitate in computing the right value of safety stock.

Social media helps in bringing real time data in terms of the percentage likes or dislikes posted by users of a social media site. Also the informal interaction enabled through social media helps consumers to express their candid views about a product. Customers who are interested to buy a product online or are sure that the product cannot be returned are particularly concerned about the quality and the correct utility of the product. These consumers prefer to take an informed decision based on viewing the product reviews in social media sites. Also since personal interactions don't happen much these days, an informal chat over a social media site or reading product reviews by first hand consumers can greatly affect the buying decision.

Social media not only could help building leaner supply chains but also help in bringing companies closer to their customers.  Since social media is something that is used by majority of consumers on a daily basis, it is slowing evolving as the most powerful tool to know the current demand trends of products. However, the social media analytics should be brought into the supply chain strategy only after performing a due diligence on the customer demographics, location, culture etc. since the user profile of social media may bias the kind of conclusions drawn. For example,  it would make more sense to use the customer data of users located in Northern US, Finland, Germany for a winter jacket. The reason being this group of users  are more likely to buy such a product as against Asian or African users.

Also, there are some more points to look at before using the social media data. What sample size should be considered and how should the percentage likes and dislikes be extrapolated? Also the users using the social media sites can change their likes and dislikes. Hence, when should the data be integrated into the system?

Demand forecasting necessarily needs a mathematical model to suggest the right numbers for the demand of products. Social media can only provide a trend. However it needs to be seen as to how effective can a tool/software be that has the ability to translate such trends and patterns into numbers

However, the final question still remains as to whether the views in terms of likes/dislikes expressed over social media are reliable enough  to integrate the social media analytics into a tool like ERP to drive forecasting ? Isn't  an expression of  interest not more than just mere excitement of a product?

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 1

Woke up with a nice sunrise view as seen from my hotel (Tropicana Las Vegas) window. Had to skip the general session for some unavoidable reasons. Heard from other folks that it was quite interesting which was more on gaining visibility, control and automation to enable Business without limits.


Attended the Smarter Physical Infrastructure Stream keynote session which was delivered by presenters from General Electric, Michelin and IDC along with IBM. George Ahn - IBM VP for EAM spoke about how Maximo and TRIRIGA would be the focus solution for smarter buildings and smarter cities. With TRIRIGA acquisition, IBM seems to be more focused on Smarter physical infrastructure as part of its smarter planet theory.

Michelin presented how they replaced 1000s of their local applications by Maximo in their 70 manufacturing plants. By sharing of best practices across plants, having one common master application and collaboration, Michelin could improve efficiency by 10%, reduce maintenance cost by 20% and improve energy performance by 20%. Michelin is also effectively using Maximo for knowledge retention to overcome aging workforce problem. Interestingly, in most of my client conversations, aging workforce is always a pressing issue.

Another interesting fact to know from Jamie Thomas (VP - Tivoli - Strategy and Development) was that IBM has 467 authorized Maximo partners delivering system integrator services. She also mentioned that IBM has done more than 100 releases in last 5 years, after acquisitions. IBM efforts should be applauded here for having that much focus on Maximo. In fact, IBM has been releasing new Maximo add-ons and Industry Solutions at much faster speed than MRO.
Next on my list was the breakout session on Maximo and TRIRIGA Product update, roadmap and new features delivered by my good friends Dave Gasdia and Anthony Honaker. I have attended their 10s of sessions in multiple IBM events and the common thing I have seen is that there sessions are always over crowded. You would find people standing in each and every corner of rooms. Such is the charm and clarity of their sessions.

IBM will be releasing two new solutions IBM intelligent building management and Maximo health, safety and environment management. Most of the features of HSE are already available in Maximo O&G solution. The difference would be that now these are available to non O&G clients as well.
Another new upcoming add-on is Maximo for email where you can approve a work order in Maximo just by sending a mail from your blackberry. This is going to be made available as part of base 7.5 product soon ( to be precise). Dave also mentioned that Hotel Tropicana Las Vegas is using this feature to streamline their maintenance processes. Probably, when I called them up yesterday to fix something in my room, they might have used Maximo.
Next big release is TRIRIGA which is mainly a blue wash release as of now. IBM also building some of TRIRIGA features in Maximo and also integrating TRIRIGA with Maximo for these features. I could not understand the rationale behind this.

Roadmap for 2012 is to release significant enhancements on Maximo Scheduler, Fix packs for various Industry Solutions (SP, Utilities, Nuclear etc). Another significant release is something called Smart Cloud Control Desk for IT Asset Management, Service Management, CCMDB and change Management.
Some more new enhancements planned for Adaptability and Agility. This is to mainly improve user experience and reduce customization complexity by having configuration.
Anthony gave it a new name "Configurization". Some of the examples of this are automation scripts, graphical ways of configuring maximo. This provides opportunities to clients to reduce customizations. Usability and Navigation improvement is next high priority item on their list. Some of the improvements would be dynamic smart centers, personalization, increased data visualization, click reduction, graphicability, streamlined data entry etc etc. Interestingly, all of these features are influenced by TRIRIGA. TRIRIGA seems to be a good product. I am getting tempted to learn that as well.

Bumped into Anthony later, after an another customer session and asked him my doubt about building TRIRIGA features in Maximo and at the same time integrating TRIRIGA with Maximo as well. As per him, there is still no clarity for the TRIRIGA roadmap, hence IBM is trying both the routes.

Spent some time on our booth, met two of our clients and fixed a time for them for a more focused discussion about their issues and priorities. 

Back to another break out session where this utility company has implemented Maximo, Peoplesoft and Powerplan. The session was more oriented towards Powerplan. They have been using Poweplan since 1996 and claim to be one of the first powerplan users. Some the critical success factors this team mentioned were (i) dedicated project team members, (ii) phased approach with core foundation first, (iii) strong management support, (iv)Organization Change Management, (v) engaging key users in the project. Very-very true for any package implementation. Specially, change management and key user engagement.

Powerplan is the asset accounting software and goes pretty well with maximo. We, in Infosys, have implemented a very similar landscape for an another utility where we also integrated Maximo with Powerplan. Plan to fix a meeting between both these clients to share best practices and learn from each other.

Another breakout session with an energy company which is in process of implementing Maximo and integrate that with SAP for financials. Their focus would be to move slowly from reactive to preventive to predictive to RCM to RBM to TPM. They have worldwide operations and have implemented the solution in north America and moving to Europe and then South East Asia. They have been completing their maximo projects in sites on time and on budget. Everybody wants that. I realized that they are moving very slowly but very firmly by having right strategies in place by having a solid Asset Life Cycle  Management foundation in place. They also plan to have pipeline assets and use RBM (Risk Based Maintenance) for them. Invited them to our speaker session for Wednesday on the same topic.

Back to our booth again. Socialized with colleagues from cloud and our IBM alliance team which is providing us excellent support. Moved around booths of some other sponsors. Every sponsor is having some unique solution around Maximo. I wished them luck and headed back to hotel.

Throughout the day, met most of my worldwide maximo friends and had good discussions. Will meet rest of them over next 2 days. Long blog, Fingers aching. Will write more tomorrow.

March 5, 2012

Infosys team at Pulse 2012 - Day 0

I am back again in Vegas for IBM Pulse 2012. Though I have attended all Pulse events since its inception in 2008 (last year I gave it a miss), it still looks new every year.  Probably every time a new interesting theme from IBM makes it worth attending. Also, the horizon of the event is increasing every year, which makes it more exciting. This year, 7000+ people are scheduled to attend this event.


The first Pulse event in year 2008, after MRO acquisition, was more of an extension of earlier MRO world or Maximo world event, hence was mainly Maximo focused.  Then onwards, IBM is enhancing it every year, from a mere service management in 2008 to Dynamic Infrastructure to optimization of world infrastructure in 2012.

Infosys is one of the Gold sponsors this time again and having a booth and is represented by our two Infosys teams - Maximo Asset Management and Cloud. We are also showcasing our Pipeline Integrity Management Solution which is built on Maximo.

Had an uneventful journey from India- was long though. Switched 3 airports. Have never spent that much time in air to travel to West coast from India. Fortunately no jet legs as well. Pretty excited to meet many of my Maximo friends spread world over and all of us travel for this event to make it an yearly get-to-gather.

As always, event was opened late evening with an international connection reception and then expo theatre grand inauguration. Realized this time, Maximo is having a lion's share in terms of sponsorships. Almost 60% of the event sponsors are Maximo service providers with almost all Gold sponsors are related to Maximo. This year IBM has also brought in Tririga, after recent acquisition. As Tririga fits well with Maximo and may ultimately be merged/seamlessly woven in Maximo, it will be  interesting to learn more on this in next 3 days.

Next three days are going to be full packed with lots of keynote sessions, IBM meetings, client meetings, breakout sessions, birds of Feather sessions and of course meeting with all my Maximo colleagues.

I will be blogging live during the event about significant announcements, client and IBM meetings.

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