Archive for the ‘Products’ Category

Making Connections at Kinexions – Our customers say it all

Published November 4th, 2013 by Trevor Miles @milesahead 0 Comments

We had our annual user conference, Kinexions (pronounced ‘connections’ – isn’t English a strange and fabulous language?) in late October with record attendance and great feedback. The theme of the conference was our tag line ‘Know Sooner. Act Faster.’ Indulge me while I parse out our strap line.

Know Sooner – The ability to detect market changes quickly and determine whether the changes represent risk or opportunity, as well as identifying and alerting the people impacted by the risks or opportunities.

Act Faster – The ability to determine the best course of action quickly through scenario analysis within a team of people, across functions and even organizations, in a structured manner.

In other words our strap line is all about reducing decision latency through purposeful collaboration driven by responsibilities.

As usual it was the great customer testimonials that drive home the benefits of this theme through:

  • Rapid time to value in the initial deployment
  • Rapid innovation on the part of Kinaxis
  • Consistent value delivery over time as they expand into new BUs, geographies, and business processes
  • Mature into a Planning Control Tower – End-to-end supply chain planning process enablement

Of course that is easy for me to say, so I want to focus on external validation of these points.

We had Christian Titze attend our conference for the first time from Austria. In a short summary of the conference Christian states that:

Client companies at the conference demonstrated several ways in which they are adapting and improving their supply chains. These included speeding up time to value from deploying new software, and using embedded analytics and master data management (MDM). In doing so they showed how they were redefining their supply chain planning (SCP) application portfolios to support an adaptable and capable planning system of record (SOR).

Several client companies showed how they were using RapidResponse as a planning SOR. Some are now decommissioning their other SCP solutions and even moving material requirements planning (MRP) out of their ERP systems. This indicates Stage 3+ IT maturity for planning, whereby a planning SOR is in place and ERP systems are seen solely as transactional SORs.

Titze, C., Payne, T.; Kinexions 2013 Shows the Value of Adaptable Planning Systems of Record; Gartner, Inc.; 31 October 2013 .

Unfortunately Ray Wang had some travel issues meaning he could not attend our analyst/influencer session in which we have open kimono discussions with several customers, but Ray has attended our user conference in the past and knows several of our customers. However we were fortunate to have Holger Mueller on a panel which I moderated. Holger has tons of experience in large ERP vendors so it was great to see him endorse the benefits of our technical architecture in a Twitter stream with Ray, which is of course behind all the value delivery.

KinexionsTweetsHolgerRWang


Lora Cecere has been a consistent voice of the customer in the analyst community for well over 10 years now, often putting the software vendors feet to the fire, including ours. She calls this ‘tough love’. As a consequence any positive statements about a vendor need to be cherished, so it is with great joy that I can report that while at our conference, Lora wrote a blog entitled ‘Applause’ in which she states:

In leaving the Kinaxis user meeting this week, I am struck by three things.

First, their recent work on mobility and defining the user experience on a mobile application is very cool.

Second, the flexibility of the Kinaxis solution makes the product hard to message, but the clients that have figured it out, are very happy.  (Some of the happiest….)

Third, the solution is most often deployed in material-intensive supply chains for what-if simulation and visibility. It is a cloud-based solution that scales easily for hundreds of users. It has helped many clients that were too constrained by the inflexibility of the traditional APS platform.

At the conference, Kinexions, I heard many clients speaking freely about the deployment of Kinaxis and the turning off of Oracle and SAP APS solutions.  Many were almost giddy. The ease-of-use of the Kinaxis system was freeing for their teams.

Our Customers
While I wish I could share details of the customer stories shared with the influencers and as keynotes, these days companies are very reluctant to provide public statements of benefit.  What I can say is that during the influencer session we had three customers speak:

•    Flextronics – Customer since Oct 2001
•    Amgen – Customer since Mar 2009
•    NCR – Customer since Jan 2010

The consistent story across all 3 is how they paid for the initial investment in less than a year and how they have expanded their deployment of Kinaxis ever since, often to adjacent functions such as Finance, R&D, and Regulatory/Control. These stories were repeated in the main stage presentations by Cisco, Applied Materials, and First Solar.

What I love about these customer stories is that they give us purpose. Without tangible business benefits software is nothing but a few bits and bytes.

 

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Posted in Control tower, Demand management, Milesahead, Products, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management


What does mobile, project management, and data integration have in common?

Published May 22nd, 2012 by Lori Smith 0 Comments

They are the focus of our latest RapidResponse release.

The Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference continues today and we took the opportunity to unveil powerful new RapidResponse capabilities.  I thought I would share some highlights.

Mobile:

  • access to “live” executive and operational dashboards on any tablet of choice
  • have uninterrupted visibility to the current state of the supply chain and make decisions regardless of location

Integrated Project Management:

  • manage  projects in the same system you manage your supply chain
  • gain an accurate view of how a project is impacted by supply chain disruptions, or conversely, how a project change alters supply chain requirements
  • link project management “what-if” analysis capabilities to supply chain analytics to accurately calculate the implications of changes

Rapid Supply Chain Data Integration

  •  new integration layer facilitates rapid integration and automation among heterogeneous system environments with multiple data sources
  • closed-loop integration to disparate transactional systems ensures companies operating in multi-application environments can work in near real-time

By the way, we are tweeting from the Gartner conference.  Follow #Gartnerscc, @kinaxis, or @milesahead for live commentary on the events.

Posted in Control tower, General News, Products


Rising Labor Costs in China and Their Impact on the Supply Chain

Published April 12th, 2012 by Jenny Tyrrell 0 Comments

laborIn October 2011, Simon Rabinovitch of the Financial Times published an article entitled “China labor cost soars as wages surge by 22%.” This figure is an average across the breadth of the country, with Shenzen and Beijing named as the costliest locations to do business. This trend has been covered extensively by the media in recent months, including Supply Chain Digest last month.

Rabinovitch’s article is interesting, and he listed a number of factors influencing this trend. Chinese inflation and local municipal policy on raising the minimum wage are the primary factors. Rabinovitch also talked of this being a direct policy of the Chinese government, driving municipal action, to move activity in the region further up the value chain. We now see contract manufacturers offering managed services, Celestica being a prime example. It is simply a case of margin. CMs build to low margin and high volume. Margin jumps significantly when they move into professional services.

It is incumbent upon the supply chain to ask if this is a positive move or a negative move.

In previous blogs, I have written about the move toward the Asia-Pacific labor market in the mid to late 90s, primarily driven by low-cost manufacturing, low corporate rates, power services, and inexpensive labor. So, the question is, how does this impact change of cost in the region, impact global companies and their manufacturing base, and ultimately, the cost for the consumer?

This is where the discussion becomes interesting. Do we move out of the Asia sphere, or is this actually a where supply chain needs to be positioned—close to an emerging market? Why would you disregard a market of this size  and continue to view this portion of the globe as an export-driven manufacturing base to support western consumerism? We need to be cautious about a knee-jerk reaction here and move bases out of China to lower cost bases in the APJ region or elsewhere. This reaction may well turn out to be a case of kicking the can down the road, as this wage trend is playing out across all of APJ.

So instead of looking at the negative, the supply chain should look at this as a potential growth and consumer market as well as a manufacturing base.

So initially, the base margin is being squeezed. The upshot of this trend, however, is that a large technology-hungry population has expendable income for “luxury goods.”

Take China alone. Chinas population exceeds 1.3 billion. With an average workforce of 900 million, this is an astonishing large consumer market. If the working population has money to spend, then, the demand chain needs to rise to the occasion and deliver. As a profession, the demand chain is becoming just as much of a buzz word as the supply chain.

So looking at the whole picture, reducing baseline margin, and placing the money into consumer hands will drive the “demand chain,” and ultimately drive sale of goods. Volume will ultimately win out over margin.

Companies need to get “smarter” at managing their supply chains. Labor is only one cost factor in margin as discussed in previous blogs. Technology and people create a lean supply chain. Give people the tools required to react to the market, and the supply chain will find its own margin, and adjust accordingly. So the discussion becomes market size versus market margin.

Posted in Products, Supply chain management, Supply chain risk management


Fascinating clash of business models in mobile devices market

Published March 7th, 2012 by Trevor Miles @milesahead 0 Comments

I find the battle raging in the cell phone handset market to be fascinating. But even as I wrote that sentence, I realized that the sentence is incorrect because the battle is more about the business model than it is between handsets. A recent article by Gartner entitled “Worldwide Smartphone Sales Soared in Fourth Quarter of 2011 With 47 Percent Growth” (subscription may be required) confirms that Q4 2011 was a record-breaking quarter for handset shipments, especially for smartphones.

Worldwide Mobile Device Sales to End Users by Vendor in Q4 2011 (Thousands of Units)
Company Q4’2011 Q4’2010
Units Market Share (%) Units Market Share (%)
Nokia 111,699 23.4 122,278 27.1
Samsung 92,682 19.4 79,169 17.5
Apple 35,456 7.4 16,011 3.5
ZTE 18,915 4.0 9,034 2.0
LG Electronics 16,938 3.6 30,119 6.7
Huawei 13,966 2.9 7,824 1.7
Research In Motion 13,185 2.8 14,762 3.3
HTC 10,837 2.3 8,907 2.0
Motorola 10,075 2.1 10,908 2.4
Alcatel 9,005 1.9 7,998 1.8
Others 143,796 30.2 145,026 32.1
Total 476,555 100 452,037 100
Source: Gartner (February 2012)

What I find fascinating about the discussion is that Nokia still dominates the overall market with a 6% lead over Samsung for all of 2011, but down from 11% in 2010. Yet the brand is tarnished because they have been slow to penetrate the smartphone market. Well, this isn’t quite true since Nokia first tried to create a smartphone market way back in the late 1990s, when one of their bricks cost about $1,000. But they were never able to create the market need with a usability and development ecosystem to drive adoption. Principally the high-end Nokia phones were designed for business users, while the consumers were left with less functional phones. I use the term “phones,” instead of handsets, deliberately because I think this is where the business models diverge.

Enter Apple. Much has been written about Steve Jobs’ brilliance since his passing, and I will not try to recreate any of that discussion here other than to recognize the merging of the hardware, operating systems, and development eco-system into a single platform delivering an unsurpassed user experience and market growth. Apple’s growth has been explosive.

Even if we look at the growth of Samsung in terms of unit sales, their growth of over 13M units is overshadowed by Apple’s growth of over 19M units. Perhaps more interesting is that within the Android camp, Samsung’s gain has been at LG’s expense. By my count, the Android unit sales increased by 18M-20M, depending on how much of the “Others” bucket can be attributed to Android handsets.

At the heart of the matter is the battle over a business model that separates out the hardware from the operating system and the applications that run on the operating system (Android), and a business model that combines all three into a single offering (Apple). Then there is Nokia that is trying to go the Android way though using a different operating system, and RIM that was the originator of the single platform but never really managed to make the transition from business to consumer device.

At first glance it would seem that the Apple model is so much more complex, and it is, but it also provides so many more revenue streams. Apple’s brilliance is in execution at multiple levels: design, marketing, and supply chain. Perhaps its greatest brilliance, which has to be attributed to Jobs, is in creating the coolness factor that has drawn so many developers to its app store. But without the good design, great marketing, and superb supply chain, the developers would have lost interest because the marketplace wouldn’t have been there. So each of the elements is self-reinforcing, almost creating a perpetual motion machine.

On the other hand, there is the Android market in which Google has separated out the hardware from the rest of the business model and has much looser control over the apps “supply chain” and sales, even though Google appears to be trying to gain more control of the hardware and app store.

Of course this is all playing out within the PC/laptop/tablet market too, where again, Apple has the edge because of a combination of design, marketing, and delivery/supply chain.

What I am really interested in following is whether the app store concept will translate into the business app environment. In truth, I’m referring more to iTunes than I am to the app store. Imagine if we could buy and sell a lot more than digital media on iTunes? But going even further, being able to use iTunes as an information brokering platform, truly making the supply chain digital.

I have no idea if Apple is even considering this, but wouldn’t this be the ultimate form of convergence?

Posted in Milesahead, Products, Supply chain management


Kinaxis in-memory computing technology takes another leap forward.

Published June 2nd, 2011 by Lori Smith 0 Comments

The Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference continues today and we took the opportunity to announce the general availability of our RapidResponse Spring 2011 Release from the event.

As our COO, John Sicard stated:

“With the increasing speed of business, no one can afford to wait to make a decision. Fast and confident action are the table stakes. That means you need to easily uncover areas of concern; do deep analysis; and turn decisions into action quickly. From a technology perspective, these needs translate directly to the areas of focus for this product release.”

In-Memory Computing Performance

  • RapidResponse now supports an order of magnitude more memory, supporting terabytes of data and faster performance of analytics.
  • The result is a very powerful analytic and reporting engine that can process millions of records of data and perform demanding calculations (such as constrained capacity planning, available to promise, clear to build, and many others) in seconds.

Watch this video from Luc Vezina, vice president of product marketing and product management at Kinaxis on In-Memory Computing Performance:

Advanced Data Visualization

  • Users are able to view and interact with data in RapidResponse like never before, with several significant enhancements to the product’s data visualization capabilities.
  • The jewel of the data visualization package is a powerful treemap chart that allows users to interpret especially large sets of data in one compact view to quickly locate outliers and areas of concern. This is particularly influential when analyzing gaps in sales and operations plan.

Closed-Loop Integration and Automation

  • Even tighter integration of RapidResponse with a company’s legacy enterprise environment is now possible through two-way, high-frequency updates of net changes between ERP and RapidResponse.
  • The improved integration to transactional systems ensures companies operating in multi-application environments can work in near real time.

For more information on the RapidResponse Spring 2011 Release, check out our feature highlights page.

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Posted in General News, Products, Supply chain management


For those who have a need for speed.

Published April 7th, 2011 by Ravi Puvan 0 Comments

I recently wrote a technical whitepaper that gives a detailed explanation of the technology behind RapidResponse’s unmatched speed. You can read it here: http://www.kinaxis.com/downloads/pdf/Kinaxis-TechWP-RR-Fast.pdf

If you’re short on time, check out the video below for a preview.

Posted in Products, Supply chain management


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)


4 common reasons why companies evaluate products from their ERP vendor first…even if they don’t want to

Published December 10th, 2010 by Monique Rupert 0 Comments

I just read an article titled:  “Throwing Enterprise Software Vendors Under the Bus” by Thomas Wailgum of Enterprise Software Unplugged on CIO.com.  Obviously, I work for a SaaS based software company and we compete against some modules from the big ERP vendors.  We work with very large companies who primarily deal with Oracle or SAP.  Whenever there is an IT need most of the companies, by default, will evaluate the products from their ERP vendor… even if they don’t want to.   These are some of the most common reasons I hear from these customers on their evaluation criteria (this is not an inclusive list):

  1. Common platform (or may be called Standard Platform):  Most big companies are trying to standardize their IT requirements on one or two “common platforms”.  Typically this means a software platform that has broad functional capabilities that can solve multiple business problems.  If a company had a new business need they would first evaluate whether one of their common platform solutions can meet their requirements prior to evaluating a point solution.  In theory, this should save the company money on integration, hardware and licensing costs.  However the company will likely have to forego some functionality.  If a software vendor can be designated a common platform, then they have a better chance of being more broadly deployed.
  2. Technical infrastructure and scalability:  The big ERP vendors have done a very good job marketing their technical infrastructure to ensure very large deployments of software.  They have benchmarking services to prove scalability.  Although these companies are strong on infrastructure and scalability, large customers still have issues with performance on some applications.  It is important for any other software company to be able to address these concerns and compare their solution to the big ERP vendors.
  3. Job security:  The employees in an IT department typically want to work with name brand software companies so they can make themselves more marketable.  They don’t want to become experts in a little known software that won’t help them get their next job.  Many CIO’s have staked their careers on implementing their ERP solution and don’t want to admit it cannot meet all their needs.
  4. Costs:  Big ERP companies many times “throw in” extra modules in a bundled license agreement with the hope that the customer will sign up for the M&S cost if they use those modules. (see John Westerverld’s recent post about M&S – that’s a whole discussion on its own)  Regardess, the extra “free” modules make any ROI evaluation between software vendors look better for the ERP vendor.  Although, there are typically many “hidden” costs in implementing new modules.  For example, some of the modules actually require a fairly heavy integration effort even though it is on the same platform because they are not native products to the core ERP engine.  Being able to show Total Cost of Ownership and ROI will be important for any software company wanting to compete against the big guys.

In order for a software company to be successful against the big ERP vendors they will need to address these concerns.  Certainly the above concerns can be overcome, but the software vendors should know the bias they are up against.

What reasons have you seen on why companies don’t want to leave their ERP provider to choose a better solution?

Posted in Products