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IBM Sterling Commerce Review

3.5 stars Average rating: 3.5 (from 159 votes)

IBM Sterling Commerce Best Fit and Competitor Solutions

IBM Sterling Commerce Sweet Spot
Short list IBM Sterling Commerce when you have the following Supply Chain software needs:

  • Companies with light to moderately complex Warehouse Management System and Transportation Management System requirements.
  • Companies looking for easy to use and relatively easy to deploy Transportation Management Software solutions for North American operations.
  • For Order Management, companies with multi-channel complex ordering and delivery schedules, including unique one-off products or products with a dynamic bill of materials.
  • For Order Management, companies that require sophisticated fulfillment rules and procedures, i.e. orders from multiple sales channels that are fulfilled from multiple fulfillment centers.
  • For multi-channel selling, companies with complex products and automated quoting/pricing requirements.

Alternative Software Solutions
IT and supply chain software buyers may be best advised to consider alternative supply chain system products:

  • When Warehouse Management System requirements are for large and sophisticated operations, consider alternatives such as Manhattan Associates and RedPrairie.
  • When Transportation Management System requirements include complex global operations, consider alternatives such as JDA and Oracle.
  • Warehouse Management Systems and Transportation Management System requirements for Oracle ERP and SAP ERP customers have fully integrated options from their respective vendors.
  • For Order Management on the scale, depth and breadth as Sterling, the alternatives are SAP, Oracle and JDA ERP systems. However, supply chain software functionality will not match up one to one and Sterling may fill gaps not addressed in the ERP systems.
  • Multi-channel selling is built into the major ERP software solutions - although Sterling’s focus is external and trading partner centric; where ERP systems focus internally on enterprise-wide process automation and cost savings.

Concluding Remarks

Would IBM have purchased Sterling Commerce if they were only getting the Warehouse Management Systems and Transportation Management Systems markets – or is IBM considering an entry into the broader business application software space? Many supply chain pundits believe IBM acquired Sterling for the Business Integration, Selling and Order Management products in order to fill the gaps in the Smart Commerce initiative and enhance the WebSphere line of products.

IBM’s software is their most profitable segment, makes up about 44% of their pretax income, and has been generating a considerable amount of the company's growth for the last 10+ years. But the software sales are mostly generated from operating systems and middleware, with very little coming from business application software. The question is now is how serious and committed is IBM to the Warehouse Management Software and Transportation Management Software products, or are they at least committed enough to see these products earn 1% of their revenues?

Even if IBM’s intention is to keep the logistics software products, does IBM gear up to develop, maintain, support and sell supply chain software? Currently they are best known to sell software to CIOs; but WMS and TMS software is sold to Supply Chain Executives. IBM can make a case to spinoff the WMS and TMS; which would likely be a far better case than if IBM ignores the logistics modules and falls further behind the competition. Microsoft and Oracle have made the plunge into supply chain business application software, and IBM may also be considering the plunge; however, many industry insiders are yet to be convinced.

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