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    All News: 46
    Business Intelligence: Discover the truth about your business 15.05.07
    Businesses are faced with an abundance of data but surprisingly few have the information they need for timely and accurate decision making; or worse they are mislead by inaccurate or poorly presented data. This paper explains how companies should use business intelligence to help clarify their business strategy and define relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). It also enables them to unlock the potential of their data and empowers personnel by providing easy to use and relevant reporting tools.
    What does business intelligence mean?The term business intelligence was introduced by Howard Dresner of the Gartner Group in 1989 to describe a process that was designed to improve decision making by ensuring information is factual and accurate. Today BI has reached maturity and while these principles remain it also aims to ensure companies are measuring themselves based on a clear business strategy with well defined KPIs at all levels. It also ensures the correct tools and technologies are used to deliver the information based on the requirements of the users.


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    Traceability in the food supply chain: Tracking progress 15.05.07
    Steve Baxter, managing director of Ross Systems takes a look at the progress of traceability in the food supply chain nine months on from the introduction of the EU General Food Law Regulation.

    It has been nine months since the introduction of the EU General Food Law Regulation (178 / 2002). Billed as one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation to affect the supply chain, it stated that companies involved in the food supply chain must be able to identify and track every ingredient and food that they handle on demand.

    The Sudan 1 food scare case in February 2005 highlighted certain weaknesses of the legislation. Although the contaminated products were identified, questions remained over the length of time it took to trace the data of the contaminated products within the supply chain. The legislation did not insist manufacturers and suppliers needed to act immediately as on demand might suggest and suppliers were not imposed a strict time frame. As a result of this ambiguity, it took the majority of suppliers weeks to track the contaminated products.

    A combination of the legislation and the Sudan 1 case raises the question of what steps have been taken in 2005, if any, by suppliers in improving the ability to trace food ingredients in the supply chain and whether it will take another high profile case to invoke further changes in the industry.

    Slow reactions

    Sudan 1 highlighted the ambiguity of the on demand element of the EU General Food Law Regulation. The legislation stipulated that food companies must be able to identify where they got their products from and who they sold them to. This is referred to as one up one down traceability. No pressure was enforced on the time it had to take them.

    Whilst the Food Law Regulation provides a framework for companies to work with, the real changes within the industry are not being driven by legislation. Instead, suppliers and large retailers are driving this process by their own requirement to achieve higher food safety standards, plant efficiencies and maintain customer confidence. Progress is therefore uneven across the food and beverage and industry.

    Barriers and complex processes

    Organisations taking steps towards reducing the time it takes to trace and recall a product face a series of barriers. While most large UK organisations have traceability systems in place, there are many cases where they use non UK suppliers, often from outside the European Union.

    Given the nature of the food supply chain, preventing the contamination of any food stuff is a complex task. Even on a national level, there are barriers which face UK firms in meeting the EU General Food Law Regulation. Managing processes in the supply chain is multi faceted. For example, many manufacturers will use alternative or new suppliers on an ad hoc basis in order to meet demand or when faced with shortcomings from their existing suppliers. Given this pressure, manufacturers often struggle to make all the necessary checks as to the provenance of the products from these suppliers.

    Overcoming The Barriers

    To deal with this challenge, internal traceability systems should be developed to fully control the food products entering and leaving the supply chain. Internal traceability of ingredients can reduce costs and limit damage through more targeted and quicker recalls. Most organisations using an integrated software system with traceability functionality are able to dramatically reduce the time it takes to carry out a mock recall from days or weeks to a matter of hours. Furthermore, if manufacturers link traceability and enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) to the process control systems on the factory floor, faulty products entering the supply chain can be stopped immediately, before they enter the manufacturing production process.

    Equally important is access to live information. Customer and consumer confidence can be lost quickly if suppliers are not able to react instantly to food quality or safety issues and yet the food and beverage industry at large still lacks the ability to monitor and record information in real time. This makes it hard for manufacturers to have genuine control over their processes and effectively manage recalls. So, not only is it vital to have a traceability policy and a reliable system in place, this system should also allow manufacturers have real time information in addition to the recording of historic data.

    In summary, a variety of systems exist to enable manufacturers to not only comply with legislation, but also to meet and exceed the demands of key retailers and to go even further in improving the speed and accuracy of traceability throughout the supply chain. The question however, remains as to whether it will take another case, similar to Sudan 1, to enforce stricter changes and to speed up the adoption of such systems. Experience suggests that it is likely that most manufacturers have implemented some kind of traceability processes already, if only to comply with legislation. The result of this low level of adoption is that many organisations will posses the basic processes to enable them to be legally compliant and no more.

    In terms of legislative progress, the simple fact is that new legislation is more often than not, reactive in other words, national and European laws tend to be passed in response to events or driven by demand rather than in anticipation of future events or future demand. As a result, stricter regulation is unlikely to be passed unless there is consensus amongst the industry that it is required or another public crisis occurs within the supply chain.

    Going forward achieving objectives

    For companies who have not made significant progress, it is crucial that they work towards establishing four key objectives.

    The first involves minimising product safety risks by reducing manufacturing variability. Achieving a consistent number of reliable suppliers is a key challenge for the industry given its nature, but if food manufacturers can work towards establishing a key number of consistent suppliers this will create significant progress in reducing food contamination cases.

    The second involves improving traceability throughout the supply chain. This will entail linking the ERP system and establishing it as an operational system of record for the whole enterprise. Companies can take steps towards reducing recall liabilities with lot tracing. A complete ERP system that maps front and back office process can achieve this. For example, one of Ross customers traceability times was reduced from a day to fifteen minutes. This involved an ERP implementation to encompass the manufacturing and financial process, bar code data collection, and a front end customer relationship management system.

    The third route must establish and implement an executive led, cross functional management programme. Businesses still lack strategic planning capabilities. Getting this right is a key priority. If a company decides to move forward, it must involve the whole board and a strategic plan must be put in place. This involves understanding key business processes, putting a project plan in place, its implementation and successful roll out.

    The fourth route for suppliers must involve collaborating with customers, partners and regional agencies. Manual tracking and records still exist in the supply chain. This gives limited visibility affecting quality, inventory and cost control as well as the key elements of profitability and customer service.

    Industry movement

    Companies involved in the food supply chain will have to move towards a business model where they can produce records immediately on demand. If they do not, the company will not stay in business, irrespective of the law. Routes are being taken but it is progressive. The legislation has not led to the changes it set out to mark. Another Sudan1 type case may increase pressure but it is more important to understand individual business pressures, and work towards a watertight traceability system. Only then will we achieve a full industry standard of identifying and tracking every ingredient on demand.

    Achieving progress four key objectives to establish

    Minimise safety risks by consolidating manufacturer variability. Identify and work with a key number of consistent, and reliable suppliers

    Develop the ERP system as an operational system of record for the whole business

    Design a strategic plan and get the buy-in from the board

    Build strong relationships with key stakeholders customers, partners and regional agencies


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    Capgemini's automotive study finds automotive industry flat and needs to increas 15.05.07

    Consumers Use the Internet More Than Any Other Tool When Researching Vehicles, according to New Global Survey From Capgemini

    Todays dynamic and often challenging automotive environment is characterized by increasingly sophisticated consumers, an abundance of information, and significant demographic and market differences. Future success in this marketplace will require that vehicle manufacturers and dealers have better consumer knowledge, integrated end-to-end lead management programs, stronger B2C web strategies and a tighter link between servicing and sales information, according to the seventh annual Cars Online study from Capgemini. The study found that disconnects continue to exist between consumers, dealers and manufacturers. As a result, automotive manufacturers and dealers are missing important opportunities to drive revenue growth and cost reduction.

    For the first time in the course of the global study, the Internet has become the number one information source used by consumers when researching vehicles, surpassing family and friends and manufacturer-specific dealers. More than 60% of consumer respondents said they use the web, up from less than 20% three years ago. The time has come for manufacturers and dealers to view the Internet as an established, mature medium and integrate the channel even further into their marketing strategy and adjust their spend accordingly. This is particularly critical given the webs ability to impact sales. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that having the web features they consider importantproduct and price information, vehicle configurators and cost calculatorswould make them more likely to buy from that manufacturer.

    As manufacturers strive to align production more accurately with demand, customer and sales data offer a resource with huge potential, says Nick Gill, Global Automotive Leader, Capgemini. With the right customer information available in a timely fashion across the whole selling network, manufacturers can steer customer demand instead of simply reacting to dealer orders. Without this knowledgeor with inaccurate knowledgecompanies will find it difficult to improve the customer experience and their own business performance. Our Cars Online research uncovered a number of key findings that can help companies increase their customer knowledge base.

    The study (Click here to read report in full) - which surveyed consumers, dealers and manufacturers in China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United State - explores the intersection between consumers, dealers and vehicle manufacturers by comparing consumers needs, demands and preferences with dealers and manufacturers perceptions. The report focuses on topics such as consumer behavior, lead management, web usage and aftersales/servicing.

    Key findings from the Cars Online 05/06 study include: Vehicle buyers are more sophisticated than ever. The majority of consumers in the market for a new vehicle are taking the time to research on the Internet prior to going to the dealership. Two-thirds visit between three and six manufacturer websites, as well as informational sites, dealer sites, third-party sites and independent valuation services.

    Disconnects between dealers and manufacturers are closing, but there are still some significant areas of misalignment. A gap is particularly evident in the sales and marketing area. When considering the factors that impact consumers choice of vehicles, for example, manufacturers still fail to recognize the importance of environmental factors as well as product/feature options such as DVD players and onboard navigation systems.

    Improved sensing and response is critical to lead management effectiveness. Lead management is the make or break measure for a successful, customer-centric, dealer-integrated CRM strategy. Consumers expect and demand responsiveness from manufacturers and dealers. The risk of not responding quickly is demonstrated in our data, with 61% of consumers saying they will switch to a new manufacturer, a new dealer or both if their queries are not answered fast enough.

    Demographic differences grow more pronounced. More than ever, factors such as age play a critical role in buying behavior patterns. In particular, the differences between the two ends of the age spectrum are becoming more accentuated. Todays younger vehicle buyers are demanding, fickle and do a significant amount of research on the web. In contrast, older consumers are less likely to use information sources such as the web and are far more loyal to both their vehicle brand and dealer.

    Sharp country variations demand market-specific strategies. Increasingly distinct differences between markets demonstrate that automotive consumers are not a homogeneous group and should not be marketed to as such. German consumers, for instance, are becoming even more demanding and price sensitive than other respondents, yet display strong loyalty to both their vehicle brand and dealer. French consumers display much less loyalty to both brands and dealers and are increasingly more likely than others to be buying used rather than new vehicles.

    While automotive companies face similar challenges in China as in other markets, Chinas emerging consumer market is vastly different from more developed regions. Consumer buying patterns in China are quite different from those in more mature markets. The number of consumers in China who currently own a car is small and those in the market for a vehicle expect to buy a new rather than used car. Not surprisingly, brand loyalty remains low in China since most consumers are first-time buyers. However, Internet use is particularly high in China, with 78% of consumers using the web to research vehicles.

    Block Exemption has brought changes in Europe, but most are not as dramatic as predictedwith a few notable exceptions. As a result of Block Exemption changes, dealers say they have experienced much greater inter-brand competition than anticipated a couple of years ago, while their ability to influence customers has not increased nearly as much as they expected it would. Manufacturers have found that both the frequency and average value of discounts have increased significantly more than they predicted two years ago.

    In some respects, automotive companies are gaining a better understanding of what consumers really want, yet there is still plenty of work to be done, says James Sourges, Vice President and Americas Automotive Sector Leader, Capgemini. The need for greater insight into consumer behavior will only increase as the industry continues to face challenges such as overcapacity, competition, diversification and operational complexity.


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    Effective IT is Key to a Successful Outsourcing 15.05.07
    Leading ERP Vendor, McGuffie Brunton Publishes "Outsourcing White Paper"

    One of the fundamental lessons to be learned by SME manufacturers looking to move production overseas is that effective business management systems are an essential element of the framework for building an outsourcing, or offshoring strategy.

    In the 'Role of IT' section of McGuffie Brunton's 'Outsourcing White Paper', the ERP vendor claims that "despite the obvious advantages made possible through manufacturing outsourcing, many organisations find it difficult to effectively incorporate overseas partners into their business practice, and so establish viable outsourcing or offshoring programmes."

    Furthermore, McGuffie Brunton states: "As has been shown, there are various obstacles that companies have to overcome, with many related to the mechanisms of gathering data, analysis and sharing information in a timely manner. Any solution that can enable companies to better perform these tasks can help reduce risks and significantly improve the potential for outsourcing and offshoring to deliver a substantial return on investment."

    Commenting on the White Paper, Howard Joseph, Sales Director of McGuffie Brunton, said: "We set out to examine the growing trend of smaller firms following in the footsteps of larger manufacturers in moving some, if not all, of their production to lower cost base countries. The document also addresses the issues and problems surrounding such a major move, how to avoid the pitfalls; how businesses can make anticipated gains and the pivotal role that information technology can play in making it a successful venture."

    The White Paper draws upon the findings of recent reports and studies on the subject of outsourcing/offshoring, and the typically positive experiences of a number of McGuffie Brunton customers. In the case of Premier Percussion, one of the world's largest producers of wooden drums, a SYSPRO 6.0 ERP system is at the heart of the drum maker's relatively complex business model, which incorporates production at the company's UK factory and outsourced facilities in Taiwan and China.

    For AMOT, a company that provides industrial control solutions for the global gas, oil and power industries, staying with the same system in the UK and China also brought major advantages through significant costs savings in not having to retrain or re-educated staff with a new system. Using SYSPRO has allowed AMOT in the UK to keep track of the production process in China, making sure that production runs smoothly and the employees understand the system.


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    New Lawson Launches as a Compelling Alternative To "Big Two" In Global ERP Marke 15.05.07
    Merged Company to Focus on Simplifying Use of ERP Applications

    Lawson Software and Intentia International officially began operating as one company today, vowing to radically simplify the process of developing, deploying, maintaining and using ERP applications. Lawson will deliver a broad portfolio of enterprise applications in 20 languages to more than 4000 customers in more than 40 countries.

    Lawson and Intentia completed their combination last week, when more than 97 per cent of Intentia's share- and warrant-holders accepted Lawson's offer for newly issued shares of Lawson common stock. The combined entity will retain the name of Lawson Software. The company's new brand and also debuted today.

    The combination has brought together two of the industry's strongest mid-market players. Lawson can now effectively serve manufacturing, distribution and services industries across the globe and its revenues will closely mirror the global ERP marketplace, with 45 per cent coming from North America, 45 per cent from Europe and the remainder from Asia-Pacific. Total combined revenues are approximately 0 million.

    "The market needs a strong, viable vendor that can offer simplicity over the complexity of the two large ERP vendors," said Lawson President and CEO Harry Debes. "The market wants choice, and we expect to establish ourselves as the preferred ERP provider for companies that want to streamline business processes and run their operations more effectively. Just as importantly, we intend to be a company that is simple to do business with, and we intend to deliver on our promises."

    Debes said the company now begins a period of integration that builds on months of prior planning. Lawson and Intentia used the pre-merger period to finalize integration plans and improve overall operating effectiveness within both organizations.

    A key part of Lawson's integration plans is ensuring continuity - serving customers without interruption and protecting their long-term investments. This means existing customers will work with the same account executives, the same consultants, and the same support center contacts. Regional management will also be little changed, and Lawson promises a 24-hour guaranteed response to any customer inquiry made to any Lawson employee.

    Similarly, Lawson will continue to maintain two separate product lines, known as Lawson M3 and Lawson S3. Lawson M3 applications are designed for the "make, move, maintain" markets traditionally addressed by Intentia. These markets include fashion and apparel, food and beverage, wholesale distribution and asset-intensive industries. The applications include enterprise management, supplier relationship management, customer relationship management, supply chain management, value chain collaboration, enterprise performance management and workplace management.

    The Lawson S3 applications are designed for the "staff, source, serve" markets Lawson historically addressed. These markets include healthcare, retail, local government, K-12 education and banking and insurance. The Lawson S3 applications include human capital management, enterprise financial management, supply chain management and enterprise performance management.

    The new company is targeting three specific new license revenue opportunities created by the merger. First, Lawson believes there is an opportunity to significantly increase the penetration of the Lawson M3 product line into the US market, where it currently has a much smaller share than in Europe. Second, Lawson intends to offer its human capital management suite to new and existing customers in the European and Asian markets. Today, nearly all HCM revenue is derived from North America. Third, the company expects to provide an enterprise asset management suite to its Lawson S3 customers to track both human and physical assets, such as medical equipment.

    Both the Lawson S3 and Lawson M3 product lines are built on industry-standard Java-based technology, and both will share the same Lawson Enterprise Performance Management suite. The company is also committed to leveraging existing initiatives to rapidly develop and deploy adaptable applications for service-oriented architectures (SOA).


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    ERP Solutions are under-utilised, PMP Research survey discovers 15.05.07
    Few companies are making full use of their ERP solutions, despite the high cost of such software and the length of time an implementation can take. In a recent survey by PMP Research, just five per cent of those polled report that they are using their existing ERP software to its full extent.

    In contrast, a third of the sample (32 per cent) admit that large portions of their enterprise software are not used at all, while 41 per cent concede that a small portion of the softwares functionality is left unexplored. The respondents have come from

    Companies are also having difficulty getting ERP systems to perform as they want. The majority customise the software either a great deal (29 per cent) or a little (59 per cent), with only 12 per cent installing ERP packages straight out of the box.

    In addition, once installed, over half of the PMP Research sample find it either hard (49 per cent) or very hard (four per cent) to make changes to ERP software in order to meet any changes in business processes or requirements.

    Despite these problems, organisations remain committed to ERP solutions when it comes to buying new enterprise software. One in five (19 per cent) say they would prefer to direct investment into this area rather than funding bespoke development work (five per cent) or standalone packages (two per cent).

    But in the light of the issues many have in utilising their existing systems to the maximum, the most popular option is to spend money enhancing or updating their current ERP packages (41 per cent). A few (5 per cent) also have plans to buy third-party add-ons for their current systems.

    The two key aims of any enterprise software investment are to improve business processes (78 per cent) and to enhance efficiency and effectiveness (66 per cent). Interest in online initiatives comes lower down the list, with a third (32 per cent) saying they will be investing in B2B developments and just 10 per cent funding B2C projects.

    Recent upheavals amongst the main players in the enterprise applications market have done very little to dent companies enthusiasm for buying enterprise applications. Three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents say the current round of mergers and acquisitions will have no impact on their plans.

    Uncertainty in the economic climate as a whole is likely to prove a greater threat to IT investment plans: although two-thirds (64 per cent) expect to carry on as planned, 18 per cent have been forced to trim their enterprise IT budget and 12 per cent have seen a reallocation of funds between projects.

    For the future, the PMP Research survey highlights two areas of concern. When asked to assess the most serious threats to the success of any enterprise software initiative, half (50 per cent) of the sample cited difficulties in getting hold of the right skills, suggesting a skills shortage may be looming.

    And one in five (20 per cent) admit that many managers within their organisation are suffering from information overload as they try to pick their way through all the reports and output from ERP and other enterprise systems. Better information screening with more personalised reports remains an elusive target for many.


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    M-Tech Launches New Product Web Site: 15.05.07
    /24-7PressRelease/ - CALGARY, AB, CANADA, November 17, 2006 - M-Tech Information Technology, Inc., a leading provider of identity management solutions, announced today that it has launched a new product web site, The site offers a central location to learn about M-Tech's unique solution to eliminate the security exposure created by static, well-known passwords. The site includes white papers, product information, architectural specifications and slide presentations.
    ID-Archive is security software designed specifically to address the problem of insecure, static and well-known administrator passwords. These passwords can create serious security risks, and failure to manage them effectively may violate the requirement for strong internal controls implicit in regulations such as SOX, HIPAA and GLB.
    ID-Archive enables organizations to secure sensitive passwords by periodically randomizing them. IT staff are then subject to authentication, authorization and audit whenever they access these passwords. ID-Archive is the only solution on the market that supports a wide range of target system types, can operate across firewalls and can scale to manage passwords on hundreds of thousands of devices.
    "The site will help customers navigate through the technical and business process information surrounding credential management," explains Charlee Moar, M-Tech Marketing Director.
    For more information about M-Tech's administrative credential security solution, please visit

    About M-TechM-Tech is a leading provider of identity management solutions. M-Tech's solutions offer comprehensive password management, user provisioning, account provisioning and access management capabilities that provide organizations with improved security, increased productivity and effective policy compliance management. M-Tech's product suite has a wide range of licensed users ranging from mid-sized companies to global enterprise installations with hundreds of thousands of users. M-Tech is the only identity management software vendor to consistently prove an ROI in three to six months.


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