To stay competitive, organizations will increasingly face the need to integrate their supply chains, according to International Data Corp. (IDC), a Framingham, Mass.-based provider of industry analysis. As a result, supply chain management (SCM), which used to be an optional way for companies to improve their performance, is now becoming mandatory at many companies. "In the past, supply-chain management projects were undertaken by companies that wanted to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and achieve operational excellence," notes Nelly Zaharinov, senior research analyst with IDC's Supply Chain Services research program. "Today, however, these projects are becoming a necessity for many of the big, middle-market, and dot.com organizations due to their growing need for collaboration and integration." SCM is the continuous process of integrating suppliers and trading partners into an organization's operations to optimize resources and streamline the flow of information, goods, and services from the point of origination to the point of sale. According to IDC, current market conditions are creating lucrative opportunities for firms that provide supply-chain consulting, implementation, operations management, training support, and e-supply-chain services. "The increasing complexity and variety of the available software solutions, the demands of the new e-Business paradigm, and the need for ever-shortening implementation time frames are just some of the factors causing companies to seek the help of supply-chain management service vendors in strategizing, planning, enhancing, integrating, and even managing their supply chains," says Zaharinov. Players from a variety of backgrounds are all vying to get in on the SCM opportunity, including consulting firms, systems integrators, systems vendors, and business-process outsourcers. IDC's new report, Supply Chain Innovators: Market Analysis and Competitive Review of the Top 10 Service Providers, analyzes the supply-chain services market and the Internet's impact on it. The report discusses opportunities and challenges facing vendors that deliver consulting, implementations, operations management, training, support, and e-supply-chain services. It includes recommendations for vendors and end users positioning and deploying supply-chain service initiatives. The report also outlines the leading vendors' strategies, portfolio offerings, and delivery models and profiles Andersen Consulting, Arthur Andersen, Cap Gemini, CSC, Deloitte Consulting, EDS, Ernst & Young, IBM Global Services, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. To order a copy of the report, contact Cheryl Toffel at 800-343-4952, ext. 4389 or at [email protected].