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The first of this year Microsoft Corp. and Infosys Technologies forged a new go-to-market alliance around improving supply chain visibility and collaboration. As part of the alliance, the two companies launched an online supply chain center of excellence at http://www.nextgenerationsupplychains.com. This Web-based portal serves as an online community for manufacturers and trading partners to receive updates on Microsoft and Infosys applications, discuss supply chain issues and perspectives, access productivity tools, and more.
"The idea is to have a free flow of ideas and information, where everybody can collaborate," says Sanjay Jalona, vice president and head of manufacturing at Infosys. "We have posted some case studies and put some analytical tools up there and people with different ideas are starting to contribute their thoughts."
The genesis of this online center of excellence, or COE, was a survey that the two companies conducted the middle of last year of global companies based in the U.S., Europe and Japan, says Jalona. "This survey showed how incredibly complicated the global supply chain has become, particularly in terms of supply networks, which now have multiple partners and suppliers in multiple geographies," he says. To manage this complexity, transparency is crucial, he says. "A large percentage of the decision makers whom we surveyed said that it often is hours before they learn of supply chain disruptions, and this time lag can be very damaging."
In addition, Jalona says many companies have "tons and terabytes of data" but are still struggling to make decisions on what products to sell, what markets to go after or how to allocate between channels. "Looking at all of that, we and Microsoft thought there was a white space in the market that we could fill," he says.
This includes developing new solutions. Microsoft and Infosys jointly are bringing to market workbench applications for performance management, analytics, collaboration and event-based exception management. These include specialized modules for management of performance of after-sales service, procurement, inventory and demand management functions. The joint solutions also include proprietary connectors developed by Infosys and Microsoft to help facilitate the integration of these modules with existing business systems. In addition, the solutions are built upon core Microsoft technologies, such as Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.
"Infosys and Microsoft have a long history of helping manufacturers with the solutions they require for effective supply chain management," says Jalona. "It's rewarding to help manufacturers improve their global supply chain performance with solutions that gather and analyze data across the enterprise and its trading partners, and provide improved visibility and insight for supply chain pros to take quick, informed actions using a familiar, easy-to-use interface."
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