In the seventh in our ongoing series of exclusive vendor interviews from NRF 2013, our Editor talks to Paul Magel, President – Application Solutions at Computer Generated Solutions (CGS), about emerging trends and the company’s strategic direction for the coming year.
Ben Hanson: I know that CGS is undergoing a great deal of expansion, not to mention your upcoming event – being held at the London College of Fashion on 22nd February – so how was 2012 for the company?
Paul Magel: It was a great year. We’re expanding in a number of different areas globally, including boots on the ground in the UK, where we’ve scheduled that big event for late February. Obviously we’re here at NRF to talk about our retail initiatives, which are new initiatives for us – something we’ve only been doing for a few years – but it’s something that we’ve really been expanding on.
BH: One thing I’ve noticed this year is that PLM is occupying a more prominent place at the show than it has in previous years. Are you placing a similar focus on it to what I’m seeing elsewhere?
PM: We’re certainly continuing to see a lot of interest in PLM, even as people begin to redefine precisely what it is that PLM means. It’s become much more of a design and sourcing system as it’s grown, and in a lot of ways PLM is quite an old acronym.
BH: I don’t think you’re alone in thinking that the traditional view of PLM – as a single, limited piece of software – is out-dated.
PM: I think, given our history and all of our strengths on the ERP side, it’s easier for us to expand into the purchase side of things.
BH: Do CGS see many existing ERP customers expressing an interest in PLM?
PM: Absolutely. There’s a lot of interest coming from within our customer base for the additional modules that we offer; we have PLM, we have an advanced warehouse system. We also recently acquired a company called Threadvine, which is going to underpin the next stage of what CGS has to offer.
Sometimes, though, it can work in the opposite direction. In the UK, for instance, we’re leading with PLM and with sourcing, but the potential is there for that to lead into full ERP in time.
[quote]We’re certainly continuing to see a lot of interest in PLM, even as people begin to redefine precisely what it is that PLM means.[/quote]
BH: Do you find that there’s anything else you need to do differently in the UK market than you do in the US? We have readers from both territories, so it would be interesting to see how the marketplace looks to you.
PM: There a lot of systems in place in the UK that, while I won’t call them legacy systems, they’re things that just aren’t ready to move yet. So if we’re able to bring in our expertise in sourcing and retail, our hope is that we can deliver benefits to a market that might not yet be as receptive as the US to our broader offering.
BH: Outside of expansion into new territories, what do you see as the biggest emerging trends for the coming year? Given the breadth of your offering, I suppose end-to-end is a major thing for CGS?
PM: Definitely. We talk about concept-to-consumer a lot, and much of what we’re focusing on at the moment is in retail, where clients are interested in mobility and in merging their channels. Omni-channel in particular is something we’re seeing a lot of, with clients wanting to integrate the online experience, the bricks and mortar experience, and the catalogue experience.
Unfortunately, and this is something you’ll see as you walk around a show like NRF, not all the systems are hooked in and tied together, which makes omni-channel a very difficult thing to deliver. So what I think sets CGS apart is the ability to bring all of that information together – something that’s vital in a market where consumers are forcing retailers to look at how they’re doing things and forcing them to work differently.