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Logistically Logical – SAP TM

Journey Began…

Journey of SAP in the Transportation and Logistics started with incorporation of Transportation solution in R/2 in 1987. Then came the second shot, with Transportation solution becoming part of R/3 in 1993. Then, there was a visible lull in terms of new development in this space. May be this was due to the fact that LES and Transporation in R/3 (now ECC) was doing fairly well in helping shippers / manufacturers carry out logistics operation. The other can be the fact, that logistics was an industry looked as still laggard when it came to adoption of information technology or may be the fact that Logistics space had and still has a fair number of “mom and pop” kind of service providers.

Market changed and so do Solutions

Last few years of 90’s saw a change happening. The change that changed our life “www” – internet. And so even the industry of IT Laggards was trying to change. But what has more drastic impact was the availablity of information. Things which took hours and days to happen now started happening in minutes and seconds. MNC headquartered in US started thinking of JIT with vendors located all across globe. And since there was a business need, there were people who were ready to serve that customer segment.

Then people started thinking a step further, “Optimize” became the buzz word. IT was not new for manufacturing which was already in “Optimization” mode. But certainly Logistics, bit optimistic and bit skeptical, was looking to get optimized. This brought a slew of players in the market. GLogs, i2s of the world had already arrived on the scene and were minting mullah.

Giant wakes from Slumber

When “Optimization and planning” solutions had become topics of boardroom discussions and darlings of CIOs, SAP came up with Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO). For some this was just another horse in the race where i2s of the world were the clear leader or if put it in analyst terms” Best of Breed”. This was first major shift of SAP from ERP solutions to Addons.

Coming back to our Logistics and SAP discussion. SAP came up with APO-TPVS (Transportation Planning and Vehicle Scheduling) in 2001. Though, TPVS was not phenomenal but was good enough to make a mark in the market. TPVS was successful in the manufacturer space. TPVS, though an addon, was still coupled with SAP R/3 at backend.

Things on the sidelines were changing and so there was an urgency within SAP to change its strategy.

 

And then Shake up

The things were changing and were changing fast. The big boy of Database market wanted to  make a mark in application space and was trying to gather critical mass by acquiring whatever was available. It was just shopping spree before Christmas 🙂 . However, more importantly, the market to was showing maturity signals in terms demand for pure play ERP. The focus shifted to SMB segment for ERP while the Big customer were looking for more reduction in operating cost by having addons to ERP. And this the place where, there are a lot of small players or “niche” market players who were having there own application which were more jazzy in terms of UI and more flexible. And thus there was a need felt in SAP to have a new UI which gives equally better user experience as the competing products did.

From Transportation point of view, the competition was tough with existing players going strong and the optmization needs becoming complex. This was the time SAP came up with idea of the Transportation Management as stand alone application, built of netweaver technology.

Initial solution as it happens, in general, was pretty raw. However, what was heartening was the response from the Shipper community. The tendering functionality and charge calculation rocked. However, still optimization was seemingly incomplete with much more was already available in competing products.

As the journey of SAP TMs transformation from a good product to best of breed continues, hopefully market is going to see some shake up when TM 8.0 coming to market.

And what TM 8.0 offers is real cool stuff in terms of ease of doing transportation planning with its cool “transportation cockpit” which certainly people using the competing products, will show some interest.

Apart from this, the flexibility to change UIs using FPM is an amazing feature.

 

And the winner is………….

It is too early for predicting an end result. But sooner or later, market will realize that SAP’s here to stay and is going to give others run for money…………..

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      3 Comments
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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      When can we expect to see it in the market place??
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      I am assuming your question is about TM 8.0 not TPM.
      I hope TM will make a huge impact in Shipper market and also looking at the ease of operation there is quite good possibility of making in roads in LSP area too.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      Sorry not to answer the actual point.
      Hopefully release will be this year end