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Mark Fralick

Fralick on WMS


Mark Fralick is president of GetUsROI, a WMS and supply chain execution consulting and solutions company.

He is a well recognized expert on WMS, Service Oriented Architectures (SOA), material handling systems integration, and other technologies. Prior to founding GetUsRoi, Fralick was Vice President of Architecture for RedPrairie (now JDA). He is co-founder of Software Architects International, a successful Warehouse Management System (WMS) provider subsequently purchased by RedPrairie.

June 22, 2017

Supply Chain Comment: WMS Vendors - the Walking Dead

New Generation of WMS is Coming, with Far More Flexibility, Lower Costs and Complexity

"Not with a bang, but a whimper" - The final words from T. S. Eliot's most famous stanza, expresses my position of how the so-called world-class "best of breed" WMS players end their run. They are the walking dead, they don't realize it.

Yes, their run is over. And, I feel like I am the perfect harbinger of this change, as I helped create the modern WMS industry as the co-creator and primary designer of the MOCA architecture that underlies the RedPrairie (now JDA) WMS.

Watson Says...

The innovative feature-based deployment system built into the framework means you can deploy only the features you want (reducing girth, testing, and long-term care and feeding).

What do you say?

Click here to send us your comments

To be sure, the WMS vendors have a great deal of pressure put on them - from a lot of fronts. You have the ERPs developing actual functionality, you have the automation system vendors doing some encroaching, and you just have good old product evolution.

It feels like the WMS vendors are content just being the gate-keepers to the WMS world, even as that world shrinks. Still, they hold the keys to the gates - for now. But over the years, the WMS vendors have surrendered parts of their market to so-called Warehouse Control Systems (WCS), Warehouse Execution Systems (WES), and robot-controlled black-box portions of the warehouse (think Kiva and Elettric80). These vendors have failed to see beyond fork trucks with RF terminals, and that opportunities exist outside the boundaries of the four walls. They have not evolved with the innovation happening around them.

As the final nail in their coffin - their sky-high costs juxtaposed with this declining influence, further marginalizes their shrinking ROI.

Why are WMS costs so high? You are paying for an absolute ton of functionality that you may not ever need. You don't do serialization – well, it's in there and you are paying for it. Don't have date control issues, or lot tracking issues, or thousand other things they've added for individual customers and called it "standard product"? It's all in there and you are paying for it. We call this technical debt. This makes these older WMS systems overly complex. The next generation workers want simpler, more modular approaches. The traditional WMS vendors seem unprepared for what's next.

So, what is the solution to all of this?

It is called "The Where of Things," meaning your WMS is becoming more of a "Where Management System" than just an increasingly marginalized Warehouse Management System. It is the world-class WMS re-imagined for the modern world (not the world that existed 20 years ago).

Yes, the warehouse is still a big part of the solution set, but it is not the only part. Backroom and mobile delivery inventories, high-speed data sharing with automation systems and robotics, geo-fencing, delivery time estimates, regional and global inventory and package movements - all come into the view of a modern where-based system.

The innovative feature-based deployment system built into the framework means you can deploy only the features you want (reducing girth, testing, and long-term care and feeding). Outside innovations are both welcome and encouraged. Developers, implementers, automation and OEM manufacturers my all create their own features. No gates here, just keys.

The Where of Things ecosystem then becomes the platform for innovation.

Look for my next post on a new set of world-class warehouse systems based on The Where of Things approach.

Here is a hint. Its tagline is "Distribute Freely"

Any reaction to this Expert Insight column? Send below.

Your Comments/Feedback


WMS consultant, Company
Posted on: Jul, 10 2017
 I cant say how much I agree with you! Having worked with couple of "best breed" WMS systems, I always felt they are too heavy for most of the implementations. The trash/complexity accumulated over a period of time though customisations for various customers undermines heavily the user friendliness and performance of the system. Increased complexity comes with increased cost of implementation and maintenance. It's time they start innovating beyond the restrictive boundaries set by them.



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