At the start of JDA FOCUS 2014, the company’s annual user conference, JDA Software Group Inc. CEO Hamish Brewer said that his company was at an inflection point, and it was time to reset the direction of the company. That direction was presented as JDA 2.0 and is based on two themes: how JDA better engages with its customers and how it thinks about our products.
Until this point, Brewer’s presentation seemed like any other corporate CEO’s presentation but then something unique happened. Brewer displayed transparency that is rarely seen at such a public event by acknowledging that JDA customers (including the most of the 2,200 people in the audience) were frustrated, describing their relationship as transactional and the company as being too siloed.
To address this, Brewer said that JDA is reorganizing the company to build a more strategic relationship with its customers. This includes breaking down the walls between sales and service and creating a customer executive role. Each customer executive will be assigned between two and 50 named accounts. Their success will be measured by how well they build a long-term relationship with their customers.
Brewer expects this strategy will also drive what other technology and services companies that JDA will need to partner with. While he poked fun at the big ERP players, he acknowledged that today’s business environment is collaborative, and customers were looking at JDA and the ERP vendors to play to their strengths, working together so that the end user can be successful.
From a product perspective, JDA has organized its 130 products into five solution suites. They are Collaborative Category Management, Distribution-Centric Supply Chain, Manufacturing Planning, Retail Planning, and Store Operations. JDA believes the next generation of value will come from the interoperability of solutions in these suites. As such, each suite will have a roadmap which complements each product’s roadmap.
So, what does this mean to JDA’s workforce management solutions?
JDA 2.0 puts WFM its Store Operation solution suite along with Task Management, In-Store Picking and Enterprise Store Operations. This is a common-sense grouping of JDA’s assets as these products share a common set of users. This fits nicely into the company’s vertical workforce management strategy that I wrote last year.
JDA has also changed their plans as it relates to their two retail WFM solutions (as opposed to distribution center labor solutions), one from its acquisition of RedPrairie and the other from its acquisition of Timera. At last year’s FOCUS, JDA told customers that it was going to build a new WFM product that leveraged the best features of both solutions. Now, JDA has shifted gears, making RedPrairie’s WFM (referred to as WFM-R) product its go-forward platform. While the news may be disappointing to long-time JDA/Timera (referred to as WFM-J) customers, this is a lower-risk path for both JDA and its customers as the WFM-R is a mature, stable and modern product.
As far as product investment goes, JDA has invested heavily in WFM-R’s international capabilities adding a plethora of features to support European labor laws and contracts. This is driven by several multi-national clients and looks like it will continue to be an area of investment over the long-term as the company plans to include similar features for Latin America and Asia.
FOCUS also buzzed with talk about JDA Task. JDA Task, formerly known as Execution Management, has been replatformed to update its technology architecture. The solution has been integrated with Site Manager, providing support for the Store Manager, Associate and District Manager personas.
With this release, JDA Task also supports a new app for tablet and mobile phone users and is based on JDA’s mobile framework. The mobile framework provides a common technology platform and user experience for all of JDA’s mobile apps. The updated Task and WFM apps, particularly for the tablet, make nice strides in terms of both depth and usability.
Back to Brewer’s presentation and JDA 2.0. The customers that I spoke with appreciated that JDA recognizes that there is an opportunity to improve the relationship between the company and its customers. They are cautiously optimistic that they plans that JDA has put in place will make a difference. I look forward to watching this develop before FOCUS 2015 in Orlando next year.
If you are interested in seeing Brewer’s keynote address in its entirety, please click here.
Updated May 13, 2014 – BREAKING NEWS: While I applauded Brewer for his transparency during FOCUS, JDA has just announced that he is leaving the company. Bajlit Dahl, JDA’s chairman and former CEO of Aon Hewitt and Aon Consulting, has been named interim CEO while the company seeks a permanent successor. See JDA Software Announced CEO Change to Drive Next Phase of Strategic Growth for more information.