Q&A with Dan St. Jean
MVP Systems Software has helped many Direct Commerce customers automate their all-channel commerce systems with JAMS. We’ve been in the game so long that it’s not uncommon to hear our customers refer to Ecometry, Red Prairie, and even Escalate Retail, when they call. Whatever you call it, Direct Commerce continues to provide the backbone for hundreds leading retail brands.
We sat down with Dan St. Jean, MVP’s resident expert on Direct Commerce automation, to learn more about why JDA customers rely on JAMS for critical batch processing.
When did MVP begin developing a workload automation solution for Direct Commerce customers?
I guess you could say it was when we first developed JAMS. We never sat down and said “Let’s make a scheduler for Ecometry jobs.” We were focusing on a solution for all critical batch processes. Ecometry users just happened to be one of the first communities to make automation a priority.
What are some of the challenges Direct Commerce customers have brought to you?
There’s a wide range, but they all have one thing in common. Their applications don’t accommodate their unique business cycles and they’re bending over backwards to get day-to-day tasks, such as inventory reports, done. They need to run month-end processes, but they need a certain set of files to be present. Others need to run multiple accounting processes at the end of the day, but they have to wait for predecessors to complete. You reach a point where guessing the right time for a job to execute doesn’t make sense any more. You need enterprise scheduling, with dependencies, parameters, and custom calendars.
How difficult is the transition to centralized workload automation for Direct Commerce customers?
Direct Commerce customers grasp the concepts of automation very well. Retail is very process oriented, so the people who work with solutions like Direct Commerce are already thinking in terms of “if this, then that” or “after these files arrive, trigger this job”. Direct Commerce managers are often charged with cutting all the slack out of commerce. When they see what they can automate with JAMS, their eyes light up.
What impact has JAMS had on Direct Commerce customers?
One major area of improvement is staffing. These retailers are in growth mode, and often the only way to handle the larger volume of transactions is to hire more staff to manage the resulting IT processes. Mutual customers are able to scale up quickly without more staff, because they’ve codified their business processes. JAMS doesn’t need to go home at 5:00, so even if you receive twice as many orders as usual, you can rest assured that every one is going into your fulfillment workflow that same day.
Another major area is customer satisfaction. You don’t want to hear that delivery of your Gibson Memphis ES-335 is waiting on accounting, do you? By automating Deposit Processing, Order Processing, Pick-Pack-Ship, and other jobs, customers receive orders as quickly as possible, and that keeps them coming back for more.
What kind of automation issues do you see for the future of Direct Commerce users?
A growing area for us is the integration of BI and analytics. A BI job kicks off a Direct Commerce job, or vice versa. Businesses consider that as one workflow; they don’t care that it involves multiple steps, dependencies, security, and ETL processes. That’s where centralized workload automation really shines. Our customers already have the building blocks necessary to take their Direct Commerce jobs cross-platform.