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About the Author

Dinesh Dongre
Vice President of Strategy

Softeon is a leading provider of supply chain and logistics software, including WMS, TMS, labor management, inventory management, forecasting and replenishment, distributed order management, and more.

Supply Chain Comment

By Dinesh Dongre, Vice President of Strategy, Softeon

June 11, 2014

Supply Chain Comment: Still Lots of Opportunities to Make "Mature" WMS Solutions Better

Most Vendors are Focusing on Broader Suites, Leaving Behind Opportunities in Core WMS

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) have been around a long time. From an analyst's point of view, WMS is a "mature" product category - by which they often mean there is not a whole lot of development that still needs to be done or new features that should be added to leading WMS solutions.

Similarly, many of the largest WMS companies have generally stopped investing much in core WMS capabilities. Their R&D is going to things like creating new, more modern technology platforms, or solutions outside the WMS itself to grow the footprint of their full product suites.

I take a somewhat different view, and believe there is still a lot of improvement that can be made to the WMS itself - if you know where to look. There is still much opportunity for greater operational efficiencies and improved ease of use even in this "mature" product category.

Dongre Says:

To suggest that WMS has reached a state of maturity such that there are few if any opportunities to drive additional improvements in DC operations is simply short-sighted.
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Some examples? Let’s start with the potential of WMS in the Cloud. To do this right, it takes more than just web-enabling in some way a vendor's existing WMS, as most providers are currently doing. Instead, I believe WMS needs to be rethought to take full advantage of Cloud technology.

Since WMS in the Cloud will be of interest to a wide range of DC operations, from very simple to highly complex, a smart approach is to invest in a system that comes with a set of basic capabilities, suitable for many smaller or mid-sized facilities that are looking for a Cloud-based WMS solution.

But WMS in the Cloud should not be limited of course to these more basic scenarios. Either upfront or later on, it should be easy to add specific, additional capabilities - all the way to achieving the full blown WMS, capable of running the largest and most complex DCs.

This is where the WMS industry needs to move with WMS in the Cloud, rather than just taking the easy path of some kind of web front end. That will allow companies to deploy a single WMS solution across their networks, in large and smaller facilities, and across DCs with different operational requirements and workflows.

Currently, many companies have to deploy different WMS systems to meet the needs of these different types of DC operations.

Here are Just a few of the many additional areas we see for adding additonal WMS functionality:

• Improved intelligence of the WMS integration with material handling systems, especially in looking downstream to see activity on the sorter in conjunction with releasing order picks to the floor.

Use of smart phones and tablets - including for Voice applications – in place of traditional and more expensive RF and traditional Voice equipment.

Not only Voice-enabling the entire WMS from a task or function perspective, but allowing customers to use Voice to launch queries or perform other administrated tasks.

Connecting WMS to inventory management across retail or other sites. The WMS will consider and coordinate execution of automated inventory rebalancing across the network.

To suggest that WMS has reached a state of maturity such that there are few if any opportunities to drive additional improvements in DC operations is simply short-sighted. WMS has come a long way, but the journey is far from over.

Do you think there is still room to add new WMS functionality? In what areas? Let us know your thoughts in the Feedback section below.

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