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11/11/2004
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i2 Expects Continued Investments In Supply Chains

RFID and other supply-chain initiatives that tie systems together and impove collaboration will be big in 2005, the vendor says.

Businesses that are starting to reap savings from supply-chain initiatives are likely to reinvest that money in new projects like radio-frequency identification that'll further simplify their operations, according to i2 Technologies Inc.

The supply-chain vendor says that in the coming year, more and more companies will be looking at supply-chain management technologies based on Internet and Web-services standards and for platforms that can integrate with their existing legacy systems.

"You have [legacy] systems that are tied to each other, and they're difficult to maintain," says Shridhar Mittal, senior VP at i2. "With new technologies available now, you can create one integration backbone and a data-management system, consistent performance metrics, and a workflow tool to tie together multiple systems."

In particular, RFID will help companies rethink business integration and data synchronization, says Mittal. RFID mandates from Wal-Mart Stores, Target, and others are giving companies an opportunity to change their enterprise data strategies and look for ways to create unified product information that's amassed, processed, and analyzed among IT systems that span the entire product information life cycle, from design to post-sales. The data synchronization also will make it easier to interact with partners' and customers' systems.

Since its founding in1988, i2 has survived the dot-com burst, financial shortfalls, and much-publicized conflicts with customers such as Nike, but Sanjiv Sidhu, chairman, CEO, and founder, says the company is back on track following new customer wins, as well as increases in i2's net income and operating revenue in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30. Composite supply-chain management apps and technologies such as i2's own Supply Chain Operating Services will further help the company stay competitive and enable its customers to integrate with their current systems and synchronize data for supply-chain visibility, says Mittal.

"Customers are asking suppliers to move into the next-generation collaborative requirements, not just exchanging forecasts and availabilities, but moving into more dynamic real-time [vendor-managed inventory] relationships," he says. "Using the Supply Chain Operating Services, the created workflows, and the distributed supply-chain architecture, we have the broader suite to be able to take companies into the next generation [of supply-chain technology]."

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