In the eleventh in our continuing series of exclusive vendor interviews from NRF 2013, our Editor talks to Michael Hung, CEO of Core Solutions, about defining PLM, and how his company is approaching upcoming trends and opportunities.
Ben Hanson: How was 2012 for Core Solutions? What were your priorities for the year, and did you achieve them? Did you release any notable software updates or new functionality? Did you sign any particularly noteworthy deals or expand into any new territories?
Michael Hung: This was another strong year for our business growth, despite continuing uncertainty in the economic climate. We won a number of new accounts, ranging from small retailers to major international players such as Lidl in Germany and Safeway in the U.S.
Our priorities were focused on strengthening and expanding our client presence in Europe and the U.S. and growing our teams in those markets to continue offering a high level of service. This has translated into a number of new hires and a stronger physical presence in the U.S. and our key European markets.
[quote]With more dynamic and agile retail requirements, managing assortments and tracking production and shipments with a spreadsheet is simply unsustainable.[/quote]
2012 was also an important year for our technology. After three years of development, we launched CBX5, the latest version of our extended PLM platform, which includes hundreds of design and functional enhancements. We are proud that CBX5 is a true multi-tenant SaaS application, which differentiates us from our competitors. Alongside CBX5, we also launched CBX Cloud, a social collaboration platform which enables our customers and their trading partners to collaborate in real-time.
BH: With NRF being a retail-focused show, where do you see PLM’s role here? Obviously it has many points of interface (mobile applications, marketing data etc.) to the wider technological landscape as well as its core product development functionality.
MH: It really depends on who you talk to. PLM is usually viewed by retailers and other software providers as a tool to support product development processes. Our view is more holistic, that retailers need to look at optimizing their entire end-to-end supply chain. While product development is an important piece, our customers come to rely on us to support them through their entire plan, source, order, make, deliver and finance processes. This is why we feel that Extended PLM more aptly describes our solution.
Definitely mobile is on our radar, but we don’t really see it as something separate to plan for. We have always designed and built our solutions for accessibility, to cover basic users who access the system from web browser on a PC to the person who wants real time access on their smartphone, tablet, desktop or notebook. That being said, we have no doubt that the future of PLM, and for us the extended solutions, is a SaaS delivery model accessible with any device.
BH: Having had the chance to explore the show, what do you see as the biggest emerging trends for 2013? Omni-channel and mobile certainly seem to be the watchwords this year.
MH: I think the multichannel and omni-channel topic is similar to what we discussed about mobile. At the end of the day it comes down to having a strategy to cover the basics which should apply as a retailer’s operations become more sophisticated. We emphasize the need for a more flexible and responsive supply chain, which as I said earlier, covers the entire end-to-end process, or what we call concept to delivery.
A retailer can’t push for a more flexible retail channel strategy without taking a hard look at their entire supply chain capabilities. With more dynamic and agile retail requirements, managing assortments and tracking production and shipments with a spreadsheet is simply unsustainable. This is where CORE comes in.
BH: Finally, what are Core Solution’s plans for 2013?
MH: We are making a big push with our SaaS offering and are expanding our cloud infrastructure in different parts of the world as we speak. Our ongoing mission is to provide a tool which for the first time allows our clients to manage their end to end supply chains without a huge budget for IT hardware, software, infrastructure or people.
We are also strongly focused on building greater awareness of CORE and maintaining growth in our key markets and are continuing a big push to hire and develop top talent to improve our solutions and better serve our customers.