The Quest for Cost
Warehouse management system vendors have used the
slower market demand of
2009 and 2010 to invest in
improved architecture and
functionality. Today, the WMS
market has seen a robust
return in upgrades and new
solution selections. Leading
WMS application providers—
from integrated ERP solutions
to best-of-breed suite applications—all tout upgrades in
architecture, new user interfaces and robust operational
—Kevin Hume, principal, Tompkins
he upcoming year offers a great opportunity to explore the latest
offerings in WMS technology and develop a business case to
transition to more cost-effective WMS support. Key improve-
ments in the WMS market for 2012 will include:
Architectural Upgrades—Since virtually any software architecture solution is
exposed to technical obsolescence risks, WMS technical architecture continues
to be one of the most important considerations during a WMS selection. Lead-
ing WMS applications continue to deploy service-oriented architecture, allow-
ing customers to leverage real-time WMS information across the entire supply
chain system landscape.
Wider range of operational flexibility—The architectural upgrades are
enabling a wider range of user-defined configuration support that does not
touch core code elements, resulting in lower license costs and more stream-
lined future upgrades.
User Interfaces—Look for WMS user interfaces to provide more real-time
visibility and business activity monitoring within traditional WMS screens. Next-
generation UIs will support the ability to integrate with mobile devices and pro-
vide real-time data feeds for key operational and service metrics.
Increased Leverage of Warehouse Control System (WCS) technology—Such
systems have traditionally been responsible for the communication between a
WMS and downstream automation systems, synchronizing the movements of
order components across the distribution center. Look for WCS applications to
take on more traditional WMS functions such as allocation and order release.
This trend is pushing real-time systems to make decisions on where to allocate
and when to release.
Hosted & Software as a Service (SaaS) Deployments—It is now more common to evaluate hosted deployment options against the traditional, internally
supported applications. This trend reflects the high demand of internal IT support to focus on core competencies and the need to evaluate alternative opportunities for application support.
A continued increase in WMS application upgrades and new competitive selection efforts are expected in 2012. WCS application providers will also challenge
WMS vendors with a wider footprint of pick management execution software.
However, WMS vendors have made significant improvements in technical and
functional support, and they will leverage more than 20 years of experience to
meet the challenge. Overall, 2012 is shaping up to be a great year to be in the
quest for a new WMS application.