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Panasonic takes a 20% stake in Blue Yonder, extends ongoing strategic partnership

Earlier this week, global electronics giant Panasonic said it has made a 20% equity investment in Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Blue Yonder (formerly JDA), a provider of AI-driven and end-to-end supply chain management services.

Panasonic made this investment through a secondary sale of shares, with Blue Yonder having an enterprise value of $5.5 billion. The companies have enjoyed a strong strategic relationship, which notably includes a Japan-based joint venture in April 2019.

Under the terms of this deal, Panasonic will have a 20% minority ownership stake in Blue Yonder, in addition to one seat on the Blue Yonder Board of Directors. And New Mountain Capital and funds managed by Blackstone remain majority shareholders of Blue Yonder and are fully committed to supporting the company’s strategic vision, the companies said.

A Blue Yonder spokesman told LM that this expanded partnership will accelerate Blue Yonder’s AI/ML (machine learning) platform to drive faster, more context-aware business decisions for global supply chains and accelerate the promise of the Autonomous Supply Chain.  And he added that Blue Yonder and Panasonic will combine resources and work closely with partner companies in Japan to fuel growth by selling Blue Yonder’s Luminate solutions and bringing forth new, jointly-developed solutions.

“I am excited about this collaboration to realize our joint vision for digital supply chain — where Blue Yonder’s platform synchronizes with Panasonic’s edge offerings to deliver more autonomous, successful business outcomes for retailers, manufacturers and logistics providers,” said Girish Rishi, CEO of Blue Yonder, in a statement. “We look forward to working within our Joint Venture in Japan to deliver tremendous customer value.” 

And Yasu Higuchi, Representative Director of Panasonic Corporation and CEO of Panasonic’s Connected Solutions Company, explained that modern day supply chains face a number of challenges including rapidly shifting demand, hyper-personalization of consumer needs, labor shortages and operational inefficiencies.

“[S]o by further developing our relationship with supply chain software specialists Blue Yonder, I believe we will be able to make larger, more transformative contributions to a greater number of customers,” Higuchi said. “In order to do so, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of Blue Yonder’s advanced global solutions and business model so that we can augment and further elevate our own solutions capability. Through this collaboration, we aim to become a global leading provider of frontline process innovation.”

Last month, Blue Yonder announced it expanded offerings based on its AI and ML-based Luminate platform that provides a “war room” service for companies combatting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This offering superimposes a company’s supply chain landscape over the COVID-19 spread, though the CDC’s live feed, and provides visibility to critical supply chain metrics and risk.

In February, Blue Yonder changed its name from JDA. The company said that the name change is part of a re-branding initiative in an effort to better align its name with its cloud transformation and product roadmap and also to embrace endless innovation in the future, as well as continuous improvement and a focus on outstanding customer experience, too. 

The company explained that changing its name and brand from JDA to Blue Yonder “further supports the massive impact of AI and ML technology across the supply chain, logistics, and retail markets,” adding that “Blue Yonder’s leading AI/ML technology powers the Company’s Luminate end-to-end digital fulfillment platform.” This platform, it said is multifaceted in that it:

  • delivers the fastest, most cost-effective and sustainable response to demand signals;
  • integrates and synchronizes forecast, warehouse and transportation execution labor and delivery across multiple channels – reducing latency driven by disjointed systems; and
  • delivers real-time visibility and orchestration, helping companies better predict, plan, manage and optimize the inventory and labor required to deliver the right product, at the right price, at the right time, to the consumers’ channel of choice

Blue Yonder CMO recently Kevin Iaquinto told LM that this brand change represents kind of where the company is going, which is really all-in on cloud first.

“We now see ourselves as a fully SaaS company, and we are going to continue that from a sales model in 2020 and beyond and also bring in all the AI/ML execution that we can into our cloud offerings,” he said. “In addition, we have pivoted as a company that over the years was kind of a set of applications that we grew either organically or through a set of acquisitions. And we are now repositioning our Luminate platform as really an additional platform that our partners can leverage and write APIs and create their own value-added solutions leveraging our platform. That has been a big change for us in our go to market approach, in that we are really now not selling products but are selling a platform. We have been talking about enabling our sellers to go out and talk about that common UI/UX, or that common experience, because we want to make using Blue Yonder tools easier for our customers and a more seamless experience across the board. We have also reorganized the company from a delivery standpoint…and took our consulting services, support organization and our cloud organization and pulled it all under one leader, as opposed to scattered organizations.”

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About the Author

Jeff Berman's avatar
Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review and is a contributor to Robotics 24/7. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis.
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