Heralding it as one of its most significant innovations in its 25-year history, CGS (Computer Generated Solutions) launched its new BlueCherry Infinity enterprise software solution for the fashion and soft-goods industries. A more comprehensive and modular business system leverages the latest Microsoft technologies to extend system capabilities, enhance the user experience, reduce cost of ownership and improve scalability and security while increasing productivity.
Speaking to Apparel before a launch event held Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Paul Magel, senior vice president, application solutions, CGS, said that BlueCherry Infinity has been a three-year project in conjunction with Microsoft to create a more scalable, reliable and configurable system.
Making the system more configurable and flexible
"It's taken some of the latest Microsoft technologies, specifically WPF and Silverlight, all under the .Net Framework, and overhauled the interface to make it much more configurable, flexible and comfortable from a user standpoint," said Magel. "We kind of followed the Microsoft global standard. If you're used to Excel or Word, you're going to be very comfortable in front of a BlueCherry screen and very productive right away."
CGS also significantly enhanced the tool sets from the original BlueCherry suite launched in 2005 to create a much more personalized experience for the user.
"We're giving a lot more powers to the user to really create a personalized experience with BlueCherry, whether it's on an individual basis or role basis," said Magel. "If you're a sales person or you're a production person, the system will behave the way you want it to behave. They can create an individual look and feel."
He adds: "There are a lot of demands from retailers so we provide an integrated tool set - whether it's report-writing capabilities, the ability to create your own screens, or the ability to configure the system without customization. We put a lot of power back in the hands of the company so they can match the system as the business changes for them."
New systems will let imaginations run free at Charles Komar
"One of the main things it addresses is task management," said Jay Harris, executive vice president and COO of sleepwear and lingerie producer Charles Komar & Sons Inc., who served as the keynote speaker at the launch event. "Say you've got 10 things to do today. You can assign those tasks and they can automatically be completed by the system but for the first time we can quantify them. How many tasks does the user have? How quickly can he do them? Were there any delays?"
Overall, Harris likewise said the usability and flexibility creates freedoms for the user.
"I'm expecting new business processes and empowered employees where they're actually going to be able to design their own interface," said Harris. "One of the beautiful things about this architecture is that there are no restrictions and imagination can take hold."
Among the core features:
Comprehensive Solution: Extends the functional capabilities of earlier releases by delivering a more comprehensive set of industry-specific, concept-to-consumer capabilities available in a single, modular business solution, including ERP, PLM, SCM, SFC, WMS, E-Commerce, SFA, BI and EDI.
Enhanced User Experience: Combines a Microsoft Office-like user interface with search and data retrieval tools to improve user acceptance and productivity. Easy-to-configure dashboards, menus, forms and reports allow users to design the experience that works best for them, while system-wide alerts and notifications enable users to focus on the most important issues.
Lowest Total Cost of Ownership: Significantly reduces the time and cost associated with implementing and maintaining a business system. The new "zero-code" configuration enables companies to tailor the system without modifying source code. For existing customers, the new release delivers one-button system upgrades, managed through an exclusive Q-Site utility. More robust security configuration tools allows for managing user permissions at the individual field level. It also includes a software-as-a-service option for the first time.
Robust Architecture: Utilizes multi-tier architecture to scale to any size business with high system stability. Web-based technologies streamline operations and speed transaction processing. Its modular design allows companies to implement only the components needed and open API tools support quick and safe integration with 3rd-party applications.
"Obsoleting itself" for future growth
Magel said that for the current climate, one key benefit is the total cost of ownership will be much lower than the past. Training and implementation costs will be lower because the Office-like features and personalization options make it easier to navigate.
"The flexibility is also critical," adds Magel. "In this environment today, people want to bring on new business partners. They want to do business in different parts of the world. They want to purchase companies if they have the ability to. They want to disburse parts of the business that aren't working. BlueCherry allows you to build a business strategy without being hindered from a technology standpoint."
Phil Friedman, president and CEO of CGS, said that after a rough first quarter, technology spending has steadily improved throughout the year as organizations recognize that technology is a requirement to remain competitive. CGS made the investment in BlueCherry Infinity for the same reasons.
"Philosophically we believe any company that is going to prosper and survive in the technology industry has to obsolete itself every five years," said Friedman. "While we had a very robust and a very good product that is selling very well and we have hundreds of customers using the current version of the product, we felt we needed to invest in the next generation product. By introducing BlueCherry Infinity today, we will be cementing our leadership in this market for many years to come."
Thomas J. Ryan is an Apparel contributing writer.