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ChainLink Research sees further consolidation in the supply chain market and growth of the network-based delivery option as enterprise users become more informed about choices and trade-offs they have for acquiring solutions. Some call it On-Demand or SaaS or Managed Services or Event Management or Collaboration. But the question is, what is this market and what is its future? Many analysts' definitions cull small subsections of what ChainLink consolidates into the Network Platforms and Applications solution.
From a market perspective-SaaS, On-Demand, Hosted, Network, Trace and Track, etc., are architectures and purchasing choices for the delivery of technology, and are fundamentally in network solutions. Collaboration is a capability-not a market.
The Definition in Short
On-Demand is a pay-as-you-go model with a solution available for immediate use. Single-instance/multi-tenant, the software is architected to support hundreds of companies. Single instance is key to the enormous economic advantage and lower cost of On-Demand.
Trace and Track users can subscribe or purchase a network application focused on the tracking of the physical goods. These frequently support adjacent market purchases such as mobility (RFID and GPS).
Now Software as a Service is an umbrella term, which also includes unique license deals, per-company solutions (hosted) collaboration; in other words, any delivery system, not installed on the user's site, where the user buys his or her own hardware. Purchasing options for software can range from rental to full-license deals.
Users application areas include product management, channel management and distribution, trade finance, supplier management (which includes procurement, planning, etc), visibility/trace and track solutions (which include chain of custody, order/product status and tracing, etc), product integrity solutions such as product and source authentication, e-pedigree, etc; and inter-enterprise transactions such as EDI, etc.
Why Network Solution? The Drive in the Market
Most businesses today, whether they call it outsourcing or virtual, rely extensively on trading partners to perform significant tasks on behalf of their enterprise. Leveraging the application network, we achieve global reach and can orchestrate supply chain activities across multiple companies. This is not true of our enterprise solutions such as ERP and license software, which sit in stovepipes behind firewalls.
The drive and cost for clean data-the single version of the truth-is an obsession with global firms. Our survey of more than 300 companies concluded that in the supply chain, major firms have a rich requirement for and will share data with trading partners for the applications discussed above.
Global economic conditions, which will continue for the next two to three years to drive demand for transparency in transactions, and global trade concerns, which drive the need for visibility on operations and products, will increase interest in network-based applications. Existing clients will continue to add on. Most customers, once they have engaged with a platform/application provider, would like to buy more applications to sit on top of the platform they have engaged with.
In addition, the economics of purchasing technology-low or no capitalization-no hardware purchases, no headcount to support a 7x24 application, has become apparent as part of the compelling value proposition. This is very attractive for all-size companies, allowing mid-market, young companies and emerging market players to have access to often world-class solutions.
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