Boardwalktech, provider of collaboration solutions for global enterprises, has launched a new version of its Boardwalk Collaboration Platform (BCP). The enhanced solution will help global manufacturers work more collaboratively with trading partners while driving fasterand more profitableproduct-planning decisions.
Global manufacturers have long struggled with the need to set up a collaborative planning environment. The primary challenge is that manufacturers and their partnersof which there can be dozens or even hundreds at any given time including end customers, distributors, retailers, suppliers and manufacturing partnersall need fast and easy access to large sets of rapidly changing planning data such as sales forecasts, promotions, production plans and supply commits. This requirement has become more important amid increases and changes in the number of SKUs as manufactures evolve their product lines; stronger competition in a global market offering competing products; and more frequent product promotions to drive customer buying behavior. Thus, the ability to optimize trade partner collaboration would enable manufacturers to make more profitable planning decisions while still within the lead time to optimize their operating margins.
Traditional ERP systems and point solutions are not flexible, fast or easy enough to use for anything but basic transactions like processing a purchase order, so extending them to manage highly collaborative applications like promotions, demand planning or production planning just doesn't work. Without a solution, manufacturers cannot confidently predict revenues and margins; inventory buffers at all points in the supply chain expand as will the associated carrying costs; resource allocation and product lead times cannot be effectively managed which means customer satisfaction goes down; and perishable demand is lost to competition.
To counter this solution gap, manufacturers use spreadsheets in conjunction with their backend ERP systems to perform what-if analysis and share data with trading partners. This means emailing spreadsheets back-and-forth between partners; manually consolidating input from all participants; and difficulty seeing how things change over time. This leads to errors as data is manually reconciled, long cycle times just to pull together the current plan data, and a limit on the number of what-if scenarios that can be considered to refine the plans. The result: manufacturers end up building too much safety stock inventory to account for the lack of visibility and iterations in their planning process which means revenue and profit numbers are not optimized; or worse, they're missed.
Updated BCP Platform
The new BCP release represents the next evolution in manufacturer/trade partner collaboration. It delivers stunning performance improvements for all collaborative operations and processes running on BCP. Common operations, like the time needed to add and update 1000s of planning items like forecast SKUs for a given month to the database, have been improved 250% or moretraditional database applications do not even provide an equivalent collaborative multi-record update capability.
The release also extends BCP's cloud-based access control capabilities, which lets companies manage what rows and columns users see, to include new capabilities for dynamically managing how much data and what type of data is active in a given collaboration between multiple users and systems. This means data allocation to the desktop and the overall process can be dynamically controlled so the overall process is always performing optimally. This new release means Boardwalktech can now offer collaborative platform capabilities via the desktop that traditional enterprise applications simply cannot match.
"The latest release of BCP meets our customers' increasing demand for a more powerful large dataset capability. This, combined with BCP's collaborative capabilities, opens new opportunities for our customers to rapidly configure and deploy enterprise applications for the desktop," said JB Kuppe, VP of Marketing at Boardwalktech. "Our initial focus for BCP had been to make it possible for our customers to simply deploy collaborative enterprise applications which are not limited by the click/edit paradigm of traditional enterprise applications. Current enterprise applications force the user to work in a web form environment which cannot be used offline to mature data before sharing changes. Now, our customers get collaboration and even more robust performance in one platform, using spreadsheets as the front-end and all from the desktop."
BCP provides companies of all sizes the ability to "enterprise enable" manual, spreadsheet-based applications by coupling the flexible data process modeling and editing capabilities of Excel with a patented cloud-based database designed specifically to work with tabular data. BCP enables sharing of data and formulas at the cell-level between multiple users and systems from within Excel on the desktop. Using customers' existing data and process templates from the BCP library of process applications, companies can quickly configure and deploy applications which can support 100s or 1000s of users working inside Excel as a user interface but with the data managed, shared, auditable and secured through BCP's cloud data management environment. This means user adoption is high, ROI is rapid and users don't lose the ability to change the process, like adding new columns or new data elements. This is essential because any solution users consider today must be able to adapt quickly to changing conditionsjust like users do when running their businesses.
Boardwalktech has been working with customers like Kodak, Coca Cola, Xilinx, Logitech and others to deploy multiple applications including demand planning, sales and operation planning (S&OP), inventory optimisation and promotion management on BCP. One customer commented, "With BCP, we were able to see business results immediately. With other systems, we spent all our time just trying to get the system to work. BCP is amazing."