There is extensive confusion in the market today on what a true demand signal management solution is. We believe that far too many companies are calling themselves a “Demand Signal Repositories or Demand Signal Management” solutions, when in fact they are not. Some are reporting tools, some are database vendors, some are Wal-Mart reporting tools, but very few are actually a manageable process that delivers signals to the business users on a long term, manageable basis.
We also believe companies need to learn to distinguish between “Departmental Demand Solutions” and “Enterprise Demand Signal Management Solutions”. There are some vendors in the market that provide nice departmental or team level demand reports, but POSmart is the only true, Enterprise Demand Signal Management solution that has the processes flows integrated, allows the company to manage the solution, automates the integration of data, can be ported to any relational database, supports multiple front end tools and delivers alerts and signals to the business on a daily basis.
Business Intelligence tools are NOT demand signal repositories. They are one very critical portion of the entire process. They are the delivery mechanism. Depending on each companies needs, some may be better suited than others. It is VERY important to note that the reporting tool is simply the presentation layer. Most support ad-hoc querying, alerts, KPI’s, drag, drop, drill, filter options, etc. There are a lot of very nice interfaces on the market. But business intelligence tools like Cognos, Business Objects, MicroStrategy, Brio, Discoverer, etc. are simply the presentation layer. They still require the database/repository behind the scenes with all the complex cleansing and integration routines. By skipping the architecture portion of the process you will be building a house of cards that will soon collapse. It is also important to note that simply replicating the source data into a database with little to no design is also a house of cards that will fail to support the business.
Companies like Cognos that have an OLAP cube claim that they have a database. OLAP definitely has a place in the POS market, but it should not be used as the enterprise repository. OLAP cubes by their very nature expand exponentially. They should be loaded from a database and that database should already have the data cleansed, validated and synchronized in a manner that provides consistency and speed for the business users.
Business Objects is another excellent business intelligence tool. They are also just the front end tool. SAP made a strategic decision to purchase Business Objects. From a data warehousing perspective, this was an excellent decision because SAP needed a better front end reporting tool. But it does not make SAP/BW a good database for POS data. BW is good for delivering SAP reports, but that is about it. Business Objects now gives them a nice reporting tool, which was greatly needed. HANA is the database we would recommend if you are selecting an enterprise solution that you want on an SAP platform. SAP has selected Relational Solutions POS cleansing platform to support SAP HANA.
Tools like Tableu, Qlikview and MicroStrategy do not claim to be demand signal management solutions but they are still often the front end to solutions and can be part of either a Departmental Demand Signal Repository or an Enterprise Demand Signal Management solution. Trying to convert a departmental version of a DSR to something that will support multiple retailers is time consuming, limiting and expensive due to the nature of their architecture which is designed by “retailers.”
Database vendors are also not demand signal management solution providers. Some are trying hard to enter that market, but for the most part, they are simply piecing together tools from their price list into a combination of ETL, databases licenses and BI tools and calling it demand signal management.
Still a little fuzzy on Demand Signal Management? Check out our latest E-Book, "What is Demand Signal Management?"