Jabil Launches InControl to Take Aim at Supply Chain Point Solutions

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Manufacturing giant Jabil launched recently what it calls a supply chain decision support platform, pitting its cross-industry expertise as a contract manufacturer against the services offered by point solutions.

Called InControl, the platform offers five applications that provide visibility, collaboration tools and diagnostics for supply chain professionals. The apps cover supply chain visibility, event risk, design for supply chain, risk management and supply chain diagnostics.

Jabil’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering adds a new entrant to the procurement technology mix that can boast something few other providers can claim: broad and deep expertise in managing the end-to-end supply chain across multiple industries, verticals and geographies. That gives Jabil a distinct selling point compared with providers that offer point solutions for risk management, supply chain optimization and related areas.

“Today’s supply chains and tools aren’t architected to effectively address all of the requirements our customers need to compete and win in an increasingly digital ecosystem,” Don Hnatyshin, senior vice president and chief supply chain and procurement officer for Jabil, said in a press release accompanying the launch. “InControl was designed for, and by, supply chain practitioners to provide the real-time intelligence, visibility and analytics our customers have been asking for so they can move with B2C speed and agility in a B2B world.”

Branching Out

Jabil may be better known to most procurement professionals as a manufacturer rather than a software provider. The St. Petersburg, Florida-based company works in 14 industries and claims 300 customers globally, most notably Apple, which accounted for 24% of Jabil’s $18.4 billion in revenue for 2016.

But as Hnatyshin explained during a briefing introducing InControl, Jabil wants to extend its expertise in manufacturing to other offerings.

“The company changed directions four or five years ago under Mark Mondello,” Jabil’s CEO, Hnatyshin said. “We became much more market facing and started going to market as a number of divisions.”

Jabil noticed that its customers were all beginning to spearhead digital transformations. As supply chain continued to become more global and more complex, Hnatyshin said Jabil wants to position itself as an enabler for its clients, helping them transform from an analogue B2B world to an intelligent, digital one.

This digital transformation journey upending the manufacturing sector is one that Jabil is on, too. In Hnatyshin’s view, that positions Jabil as an ideal partner for companies hoping to modernize their supply chain management. He also hopes, of course, that the lure of a software platform may also convince companies that lack expertise in operating a global supply to opt into Jabil’s procurement and supply chain managed services.

Key Features

In the procurement sphere, the applications for risk and supply chain diagnostics will likely be the most interesting for practitioners.

The risk management application provides a risk framework powered by prescriptive analytics that identify and suggest corrective actions for high risk parts, products and suppliers. An interactive dashboard displays a snapshot of an organization’s overall risk picture and indicates “risk intensity” across availability, velocity, complexity and delivery categories.

Alongside risk management, InControl also offers an event risk application. When a disruption occurs, the app alerts supply chain managers via SMS, email and phone to display affected areas, an impact summary, and detailed recovery recommendations by supplier, part or SKU.

What sets Jabil’s offering apart, Hnatyshin said, is that most point solutions for risk excel at identifying risk or disruption events, but they don’t tell the user what to do next.

To that end, InControl’s supply chain diagnostics application provides “end-to-end visualization of all the processes, applications and other elements” of their supply chains. Users can view their supply chains segmented all the way down to the part level compare performance over time through various sliders.

When analytics are applied here, practitioners are then presented with a path for optimal infrastructure and resource utilization. This allows them to evaluate lead times and compare alternative sources of supply for cost across suppliers and geographies.

Crowded Market

Of course, Jabil is not the first company to offer solutions for managing risk, supply chain data and the like. Neither is it the only manufacturer to leverage its manufacturing expertise to launch a software platform. Flextronics first launched Elementum, a supply chain platform unifying procurement, logistics, manufacturing and inventory operations, back in 2014.

Jabil decided to enter this crowded software market, however, because it wanted to address solution gaps it had encountered managing its own manufacturing and supply chain environments.

“Most of the tools being offered in the marketplace are point solutions that are built around optimizing yesterday,” Hnatyshin said of technologies he has evaluated as Jabil’s CPO.

What he was looking for was a tool that could enable speed, agility and intelligence to help Jabil to advantage of and “win” in the digital economy. So the manufacturer decided to take its requirements and build in-house, leveraging the data already being gathered from ERP and other systems and applying layers of prescriptive analytics to drive new insights.

To that end, Jabil sees InControl as a complementary solution for ERP and other systems of record, whereas it will compete with point solutions that focus on risk and visibility.

“That’s where we see the biggest differentiation” for InControl, he said. “This is an integrated capability that takes you from end-to-end supply chain to visibility and outcomes.”

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