Archive for the ‘CEO viewpoint’ Category

Control Tower Concepts: The vision behind RapidResponse Control Tower

Published December 1st, 2011 by Doug Colbeth 0 Comments

Since announcing RapidResponse Control Tower in October, we’ve been enormously encouraged by the response. Not only is our message resonating, but our technology credibly supports the control tower vision evangelized by several industry influencers, in particular that of our strategic partners.

At the foundation of our control tower vision is the belief that the operational core of any business is their supply chain. Companies must look at their supply chains as having a “cause and effect” relationship with other key parts of their business. It is in the supply chain and its related areas where companies can effectively address the three key challenges of any business; financial performance, customer satisfaction, and corporate risk.

We believe the core capability for any business is to be able to dynamically balance demand and supply of anything (materials, cash, human resources, etc.). I can say with confidence that Kinaxis has the most powerful, flexible, and comprehensive demand-supply balancing capabilities in the world. All of our database engine work over the past couple of years has resulted in Kinaxis having exclusive capabilities in this regard.

I believe the key capabilities for a great control tower solution include:

  • Global, multi-enterprise visibility – creating a single information source for the extended enterprise.
  • Not only event detecting, but event impact measurement capabilities.
  • Strong human collaboration tools because today’s business problems have to be solved by people.
  • Powerful “what-if” analysis or simulation capabilities. Users must be able to instantly study multiple scenarios to respond to daily changes in their business.
  • A great presentation layer and user interface (scorecards, dashboards, mobility, etc.).
  • A robust set of analytics to solve difficult problems across different parts of the business.

This last point is very key. In order to provide a true operations (or supply chain) control tower, all sorts of applications need to be dynamically integrated with the demand-supply balancing capability. This provides valuable simulation capabilities to “cause and effect” areas like project management, workforce management, and financial management. With our control tower, we are extending simulation capabilities to these related areas. Everyone in the supply chain, as well as those areas that are impacted, or can impact the supply chain, must be working from a single version of the truth. With everyone “sitting around the same virtual table” using the same information, that’s how you are going to achieve your next corporate and operations  performance breakthrough.

Stay tuned for weekly “Control Tower Concepts” posts from a wide range of contributors!

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Posted in CEO viewpoint, Control tower, Control Tower Concepts


Hearing it straight from the customer…Olympus, Qualcomm, Flextronics to be specific

Published January 11th, 2011 by Doug Colbeth 1 Comment

One of the things we are most proud of as a company, and is a bellwether of our success, is our impressive roster of customers.   Well, we’ve added another global market leader to the list – Olympus!

Olympus needed an integrated, global SCM platform to improve its S&OP process, with the specific goals of more efficient new product introductions, as well as tighter alignment of demand and supply overall.  They came to us.  I quote:

“We found that Kinaxis stood alone in terms of the depth and breadth of functionality its solution could offer.”

Wow.  We are humbled.

It’s been a good week for us.  We also just added a new section to our website for executive testimonials and are honored to include some stellar video clips from the CIOs of both Qualcomm and Flextronics. (more clips are coming)  Having a CIO say that RapidResponse is “at the heart” of everything they do…well, it has made our year….and 2011 has just started!

Sure, we can advocate our value… make our case… sing our own praises all we want (and we do!) but at the end of the day, we know that people want to hear it from the customer.  So, let’s do that.

Posted in CEO viewpoint, Products, Sales and operations planning (S&OP)


AMR Supply Chain Top 25 Dinner – We got to be a part of the evening!

Published June 3rd, 2010 by Doug Colbeth 0 Comments

Kinaxis was the presenting sponsor of last night’s AMR Supply Chain Top 25 awards dinner.  It was a great event.  Kudos to the AMR/Gartner team and congratulations to the 25 stand-out leaders. We are proud to say that two of the top 5, and all 3 companies that participated in the evening’s panel discussion, were Kinaxis customers. 

The panel discussion was quite interesting.    It consisted of 2 companies from the list – RIM, a newcomer and Cisco, a veteran, and it included NCR, who, given its size is not eligible for the list.   The discussion centered on trends in supply chain and their impressions of the Top 25 listing: what does it mean to them, what do they like about it , what would they change about it.   A few interesting themes emerged:

  • Supply chain excellence is defined in large part by a company’s agility.  Their ability to be responsive to volatility and be flexible amid complexity were keys to success.
  •  The Supply Chain is no longer the errand boy for Manufacturing.  Innovation in supply chain is what has raised its profile and increased its relevance to the organization.
  • In terms of where there is room for improvement for the Top 25 list, there were good suggestions made:  more global representation, include mid-market companies (or provide a separate list), and find a way to capture “customer experience” as part of the evaluation of a company’s supply chain leadership.
  • Lastly, when asked who should be on the list that isn’t, the point was raised that there are a number of contract manufacturers that may not have the brand recognition (which feeds into the voting portion of the Top 25 methodology) but are clearly leaders in the supply chain discipline.  I couldn’t agree more. 

As a sponsor of the event, I had the good fortune to take to the stage for 5 minutes.  My speech was a fitting opportunity to share our recent announcement of the Kinaxis No Risk Deployment offering (there is a quick video clip of me talking about it here too).    I’ve copied my speech here below…now, I must admit, I didn’t stick to it word for word but the main points were the same.

It is our honor to host this year’s AMR Supply Chain Top 25 dinner.  Our ability to host this event is largely due to many of the companies in this room who we are fortunate to call customers.   It is your leading edge practices that are fueling the advancement of the industry.  Thank you for entrusting us to join you on your journey of supply chain excellence. And thank you for being a driver behind our success.

I believe this is a consequential time for supply chain leaders.  Rightfully, supply chain is now a boardroom discussion and is being recognized as a vital part of corporate strategy and competitive differentiation.  This is the moment for supply chain management to shine.  And tonight is a fitting way to honor the discipline, as well as highlight its leaders.

From a technology provider perspective, it is also a prime opportunity to shine. Kinaxis has been fortunate to experience excellent growth during what has been extremely challenging years for software vendors.  I believe that, in and of itself, says something about our unique vision for supply chain management and our forward-looking product development efforts that we’ve been pursuing for the past 10 years.

Kinaxis has taken the approach of developing a single offering which solves multiple supply chain problems. Suites of software modules no longer make sense in today’s environment.  This approach fails because supply chain problems themselves are not “modularized.”  Today’s businesses and processes are multifaceted and interconnected.  Likewise, the supply chain challenges are many, complex, and inter-dependant. What we are consistently hearing from the market is that companies are no longer silo in their thinking and thus, a silo’d technology approach is incongruent with the way businesses need to be run.

I believe this has given way to a rebirth of S&OP.  By its very nature, S&OP crosses operational boundaries. When you have a supply chain that includes contract manufacturers and distributors, S&OP needs to be executed and maintained across sites, systems and partners.  We are seeing a growing adoption and modernization of S&OP processes among our customers and prospects.  Our sales funnel is proof of that, with a large majority of our new opportunities coming from S&OP budgets. Companies are looking to take advantage of more modern technology concepts and capabilities that enable the multi-enterprise supply chain visibility, collaboration and speed that’s required to make a plan and keep it on track.   This requires a different technology approach.

Now, I am not a supply chain expert, but with my years of experience, I would like to think I am a software expert.  And I believe that future success for technology providers will be dictated by their ability to be leading edge, not only in their solutions, but also in how they are delivered. 

We decided four years ago to develop RapidResponse as an on-demand offering. Many said you could not make a SaaS offering for supply chain problems – but that is simply not true. In fact, it has proved to be a much more efficient model.  Only recently are we seeing the non-believers start changing their tune.  The big guys are doing their best, but they are late to the game and have many obstacles yet to hurdle. 

Today, we took yet another step in setting ourselves apart from the stereotype of traditional supply chain software with our announcement of our No Risk Deployment, whereby companies can use our deployed service for 30 days.  If they don’t see value, they can simply walk away. No catch. You heard it right – Kinaxis will deploy its standard service, companies can then use it live in production for 30 days before deciding to start a subscription service with us.  We are telling customers “let us prove it first.”

Billions of dollars and millions of man years have been exhausted over the past decade on SCM and S&OP projects that haven’t delivered the value expected. CIOs and supply chain executives deserve to have more confidence in the success of the solution, more accountability on the part of their vendor, and certainly better ROI.  What better way for our prospects to confirm the merits of our service then to see it for themselves before they invest. 

We are taking the “try before you buy” concept to the enterprise space because we are just that confident in what our service can do. And we are challenging other enterprise software vendors to hold themselves to the same standard.

Enough about us…

My main goal tonight is to say thank you.  What we are most proud of as a company are our customers – which no doubt, will include some from the Top 25 list and many others in this room. We are honored to be associated with your brands and help in achieving your vision.  We are delighted to be able to learn from the best of the best, and our company and product is better off because of our close partnerships.  We hope in the coming months and years many others in this room will join our growing community of satisfied customers.

All in all, it was a great night.  And the Kinaxis team is looking forward to a full day of sessions today.  Stay tuned for more insight and commentary.

Posted in Best practices, CEO viewpoint, Supply chain management


Is the death blow to traditional enterprise software coming?

Published March 4th, 2010 by Doug Colbeth 8 Comments

I believe it is. What I refer to as SaaS 2.0 will be the “dagger in the heart” of the traditional enterprise software model. The first incarnation of SaaS, which was popularized by SalesForce.com, created a totally new value proposition for enterprises. It was a “knife in the stomach” of traditional enterprise software as it triggered a much slower growth rate in big, fat enterprise software sales. SaaS is just a much more efficient model for both the customer and vendor.

I believe what I call SaaS 2.0 will change the enterprise software model forever. Software vendors will take the entire risk of deploying major SaaS based software offerings – before the customer has to commit any monies. The SaaS 2.0 vendors will have to prove the value of their offerings in a production environment – not just some trivial demonstration.

When you think about it – enterprise software vendors have been getting away with the business equivalent of murder. If you think this is an exaggeration – how about getting away with fraud?  There have been billions of dollars and millions of man years wasted on failed enterprise software projects. Consumers do not buy any kind of other products (homes, cars, buildings, airplanes, etc.) under such a crazy business model.

CIO’s are justifiably sick and tired of an enterprise software model which is ludicrous. CIO’s also hate enterprise software offerings which are only useful to a very small user community. SaaS vendors have already addressed this issue.

How could a vendor offer such a riskless value proposition? The SaaS vendor must have a very strong balance sheet (to fund initial deployments), shorter more efficient deployment cycles, and more importantly have an offering which they know works!

Look out for SaaS 2.0 – it is coming!

Posted in CEO viewpoint, On-demand (SaaS)


On demand versus on the shelf

Published February 4th, 2010 by Doug Colbeth 0 Comments

You often hear that SaaS is a more efficient way to deliver software value to the customer. The main feature people point to is “if you don’t need it – just don’t renew your subscription.” This “clouds” some other real benefits of SaaS.

Deployments are still required for SaaS, but on average they are much less involved and costly.

Security is even a greater benefit of SaaS. An on-demand vendor has the greatest incentive to keep their service secure – it is called losing customers if they don’t. One of my favorite stories is about a large enterprise (years ago) who refused to go Saas because of “data security” concerns. Ironically, thirty days after this discussion they had a major breach of their own IT operations which became public knowledge.

I believe one of the greatest reasons to seek out SaaS offerings centers around system administration. Turnover in IT operations is common these days, so why wouldn’t you want the vendor who knows the offering to be responsible for system administration? As CEO of a SaaS company I am often asked why we don’t offer a lower cost on-premise version of our offering. I tell them I would have to charge more because we get more customer support calls due to increased system administration calls.

Having pointed out all of these indirect benefits – economics is still the largest reason to go the SaaS way. There were billions of IT monies wasted on what became “shelf-ware” – because vendors stuffed contracts with additional users or capabilities which were never used. What I have found with SaaS is customers only order the number of users they need in the short term, because it is easy to add users later on.

While there are still some “last remaining holdouts” on the movement to SaaS – it is now undeniable. A proof point is witnessing the “most secretive and data security oriented” large enterprises asking for SaaS!

Posted in CEO viewpoint, On-demand (SaaS)


Is it time to do a gut check? Five questions for IT and supply chain executives…

Published January 25th, 2010 by Doug Colbeth 2 Comments

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute an opinion piece to IndustryWeek last week on my favorite topic to rant about….ERP Suites.

In the article, I proposed five questions that can serve as a gut check for IT and supply chain executives to see if their ERP vendors are serving their needs with their suites of modules.

Gut check #1: Do you buy the line that because it is one product, there will be seamless integration? 

Gut check #2:  Can you use your ERP to connect with heterogeneous systems across your organization and amongst your external partners?

Gut check #3:  Is the initial price of the module too good to be true? 

Gut check #4:  Are the modules you have purchased not being used for the original intent, or worse, have ended up “on the shelf?”

Gut check #5:  Are you using spreadsheets because you can’t do everything you need to do in your ERP system?

It is time to stop facilitating a patchwork approach to achieving integrated supply chain management.   The limitations of the ERP suites are very real: 

  • you can’t get all the information (internal and external) you need for a true view of your extended operations,
  • you can’t easily or quickly make adjustments to the data (or data models) and see the impact of changing supply chain conditions in real-time;  and as a result,
  • your “integrated” ERP system doesn’t allow those on the front lines to act quickly with confidence.

Forget the point solutions and look for core technological capabilities that can provide a platform in which can be applied to many applications.  Bridge the divide between the silo’ed operations and partners with tools that truly deliver on the promise of integrating information, capabilities and people.

CIOs and supply chain executives deserve to have more confidence in the success of the solution, more accountability on the part of their vendor, and certainly better ROI – this means looking at alternatives to the “suite.”  Whatever you chose, be aware of the options, aware of the risks, and avoid being seduced by the suite.

Posted in CEO viewpoint


A final thought for 2009

Published December 23rd, 2009 by Doug Colbeth 4 Comments

Happy HolidaysWe’re taking a short break from blogging over the holidays, so this will be our last post until the New Year.  The entire Kinaxis team would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season. 

To our valued readers and subscribers, we are humbled that we are a regular resource for you.  And to everyone that has commented to this blog, we sincerely appreciate the contributions – the conversation is always more valuable when people chime in with their own take on the subject.  We are looking forward to 2010 when the discussions will continue with enthusiasm!

I leave you with Brian Sommers’ must-read blog post over at ZDNet.  It’s priceless stuff.  Dear Santa : The CXO ERP Xmas Letter  (my favorite is the comment to the post whereby a poster criticizes the ERP wish list as “ridiculous”….I think something is ridiculous, but it certainly isn’t that list … :))

Cheers to the New Year with more views and news…

Take good care.

Posted in CEO viewpoint


Will legacy ERP systems die soon?

Published December 21st, 2009 by Doug Colbeth 0 Comments

I think the best way to look at this question is to ask a few other questions. Why is Oracle buying everything under, over, and including the SUN? Why did SAP’s licensing revenues decline 31%? Why are CIO’s getting “Suite Fatigue”?

  • Oracle is only able to achieve 0%-5% licensing growth by making dozens of acquisitions each year. This is about financial engineering – not innovation.
  • With the tremendous corporate political power possessed and well leveraged by SAP – it is hard to imagine their licensing revenues falling 31%. Something is seriously wrong!
  • As I travel the world meeting CIO’s – I have now heard the term “Suite Fatigue” in three different continents. I think the ERP vendors are even confused by their dozens of three letter software modules.

There is no question corporations are running out of patience and frothy IT budgets to implement ERP systems – which are only really useful for processing transactions. My belief is right now they are dying a slow death.

However, in my opinion, when corporations are offered a disruptive option (10X more efficient) for what is essentially “add a record – delete a record” – we will see a fast and massive ERP blood bath like no other in history of the hi-tech industry. One smaller hi-tech analogy which I witnessed as a young man was the overnight disappearance of the multi-billion dollar Mini-Computer market. The workstations and PC annihilated what was once a robust business.

My guess is a new Internet-based paradigm (platform) for processing transactions combined with emerging SaaS-based enterprise offerings will cause the death of traditional ERP systems (and their alphabet soup ecosystems). Large corporations are figuring out that customizing SAP and Oracle ERP systems is killing them in multiple ways (implementation cost, consulting, training, user adoption, etc.).

The ERP vendors of today will likely not be the ones who “eat their own children”. My guess is an Amazon (or Google) coupled with SaaS companies offering configurable enterprise applications will spoil the ERP Boondoggle.

In 1994, before Amazon was “Amazon” – I was on a financial talk radio show with Jeff Bezos. I can tell you he is very smart and not afraid of any sized vendor. In fact, he views them as a larger market opportunity.

Stay tuned and stay clear of the blood!

Posted in CEO viewpoint