We had our annual user conference last week. All early signs point to Kinexions ’12 being a great event. The feedback from customers and the influencer community has been 100% positive (fingers crossed for future blog posts!).
The conference was my second since joining in August of 2011. As the conference was wrapping up, it really made me reflect on why I joined the company in the first place and why I continue to love working here.
Back on August 28, 2011, the day before I joined, I wrote a blog post on Why I am Joining Kinaxis. The three main reasons were: (1) the technology and approach behind RapidResponse, (2) happy customers and (3) the Kinaxis team. I loved what I saw of my interactions with employees. I was blown away by the case studies and customer stories. The product was something I had been waiting to see since I started my software journey as a product manager many years ago. Well, after my second Kinexions, let’s take stock on where these sit today.
We use LLSC to mean both “Late Late Supply Chain” Show and Learn, Laugh, Share and Connect. Let’s face it – Supply Chain is hard. It is even harder than I thought a year ago. Promising orders, reducing inventories, collapsing cycle times, reducing planning cycles, gaining consensus on demand forecasts – these are not fun. So, the fact that we can get supply chain people together to laugh (a lot!), share their experiences, learn from experts and each other and connect with their peers – to collaborate around solutions to these complex problems in a relaxed setting – is really important and something that is at the very core of our culture. Hopefully, we will be able to post some videos of the event shortly to make this point (for those of you who were not there).
Verdict: Exceeds my initial expectation
RapidResponse Technology and Approach
RapidResponse is also better than I expected. Although I am not surprised about the power of one product – a single code based to solve many business challenges – I am surprised at our ability to innovate on top of the platform. Working in – and competing against – many other enterprise software vendors, it always seemed that the only path to new innovation was through releasing new products. Old products become “legacy” quickly because they are not built with a view to the future. The mantra of innovation in software companies is “new problem: new product” (where “new product” often means “acquire a small innovative software company”). So, naturally, I was skeptical about our ability to get new innovations to market in a timely fashion – we clearly were not going to compromise on having a single product. Well, all my worrying was needless. In calendar 2012, we will have had three releases (11.0 in March, 11.1 in July in 11.2 in December) bringing the following innovations to market (just as examples of a larger pool):
- Database namespaces – to extend RapidResponse into new application areas
- Non-Blocking Allocations and Multi-Level Sourcing – to free up material resources to get products to market quicker (without compromising delivery of other products)
- Workbook and Alerting Enhancements – to allow for more rapid application development and reuse of resources (usability)
- New demand planning analytics and chart types
- Mobile offering – auto-creation of dashboards in HTML5 to be device independent for highest adoption (ROI) and lowest maintenance (TCO)
- Integrated project management – to balance supply and demand of both material and human resources (filling a major hole in the market)
- Real-time Data Integration – through the inclusive of an enterprise service bus and queuing service embedded into RapidResponse
- Attribute-based planning – for analytics extensions and flexibility in planning
- Feature (or variant) bill of materials – for companies doing configure-to-order off a feature list
- New scripting engine – for customer-based extension of workflow and automation
- Process orchestration – to co-ordinate planning and response activities
- New S&OP resources – including a calendar-based view of S&OP ownership by date
Verdict: Significantly exceeds my initial expectation
I can start with the verdict on this one. It is seriously way above what I could have imagined. This is not hyperbole at all. I have also rewritten history and moved this up to #1 on my list – in spite of being a product guy who found a product that easily exceeds my expectations, this one is more important, refreshing and frankly, unbelievable in spite of seeing it numerous times now. Let’s face it, happy enterprise software companies is an oxymoron to most people. Not to say that some of our customers don’t have challenges with the software some days – of course they do. BUT … instead of me going on, I suggest that if you are reading this and were not at the event last week, that you should check out the recordings by Laura Dionne, Guenter Schmidt, and JP Swanson of TriQuint and Don Gaspari of NCR. Not only do they share our values of learn, laugh and share in these presentations, their stories talk about very transformation initiatives that they have achieved with RapidResponse. If you have the chance to watch these, take into consideration that no one from Kinaxis saw (or asked to see) these presentations before the conference. They are completely the unedited work of the authors. We also had great presentations from Shellie Molina of First Solar at our influencer event, Lieu Yoke Sun from Agilent and Erwin Hermans from Celestica.
Net/net: Things are going really well at Kinaxis.
Before I close, I also want to pass on my favorite tweet (and there were a lot of good ones) from the conference tweet stream #kinexions12 and #kinexions. I really like this one because we really feel that we are the “Saleforce.com of SCM” or the “Workday of SCM” but we never talk to the market that way.
This one was all Frank Scavo (of Constellation)
— Frank Scavo (@fscavo) October 19, 2012