In Transition, i2 Preaches Basics To Manufacturers At Planet Show

By Doug Bartholomew Sanjiv Sidhu, chairman and CEO of a beleaguered i2 Technologies, never once mentioned the supply-chain software leader's vaunted TradeMatrix -- unveiled with great hoopla during the dot-com years -- during his keynote talk to an estimated 4,000 attendees at the firm's annual Planet conference in Las Vegas last week. Instead, Sidhu preached supply-chain blocking and tackling basics to the crowd in hopes of jump-starting lagging sales in the face of an economy that continues to sputter. Many manufacturers, Sidhu said, are negatively impacted by complexity, which in turn, affects their ability to deal with variability in their operations. "Complexity creeps in all the time due to acquisitions and mergers," he said. "The job of good value-chain management is to control that complexity." "Today, 90% of the companies I deal with find their performance to their own commit dates [to deliver to the customer] is in the 70% to 80% range," Sidhu told the audience. "There is no excuse for anything less than 99%," he lectured. "You need to substitute intelligence and information for inventory." Attended by both current and prospective manufacturing customers as well as analysts and other technology vendors, the i2 gathering was notable for its lack of a blockbuster product launch by the software firm. The biggest news appeared to be i2's naming of Sam Nakane, former head of SAP's Japan operation, as chief operations officer, helping fill a leadership gap left by some recent resignations. Former i2 president Greg Brady, who had presided over much of the company's explosive growth, resigned in April but continues as a member of the board. Executive vice president Tom Cooper also resigned at that time. i2, whose share price had soared to three digits during the high-tech stock "bubble," has since seen its stock plummet to the $2 to $3 range as the company reported losses. Contributing to the malaise was a much publicized supply-chain debacle at i2 customer Nike a year ago. Although i2 says it has saved $29 billion in cumulative value for its customers over the years and maintains a goal of saving them $75 billion by 2005, the market for supply-chain software remains mired in a Sargasso Sea of inactivity on the part of would-be buyers.

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