Last week supply chain planning and execution synchronization technology provider Kinaxis conducted the company’s annual customer conference.

In prior Supply Chain Matters postings, we highlighted the announcement of Kinaxis Maestro®, the company’s broadened set of AI infused capabilities which will augment the existing Kinaxis RapidResponse suite capabilities. We further dwelled on the differentiating approach to supply chain synchronization that Kinaxis has now undertaken with the Maestro® architecture platform.

In this posting, we wanted to highlight for readers who were not able to attend the significant observations and takeaway learning that the company’s customers shared regarding their ongoing supply chain transformations.

Attending tech provider conferences provides an opportunity to catch up on technology training, direction and anticipated solution roadmaps. It further provides the opportunity for networking with other supply chain practitioners along with taking in the observation, learning and watchouts shared from customers who have embarked on their supply chain transformational journeys.

Shared Learning

A customer keynote anchored by Kinaxis Chief Sales Officer Claire Rychlewski consisted of executives representing British American Tobacco, Eaton Corporation, Jamieson Wellness, and Kohler. The shared observations, common themes and insights shared by the panelists included:

Supply chain transformation should not be viewed as a technological implementation but rather a supply chain business process and decision-making transformation that can be enabled by technology. Lizet Tymon, Vice President of Supply Chain for Kohler stressed that communication to key supply chain stakeholders should likewise be educated as to what the transformation is, and what it is not. She further shared that the effort cannot solely be about replacing manual work, but a broader perspective as to how planning and decision-making can be transformed.

Panelists stressed the need for establishing transformation in simple and clear objectives and needed capabilities that teams can understand. Specifically, regarding people, panelists reinforced that investing the time and resources in bringing people’s skill levels

Mars Wrigley

A must view presentation was that delivered by Kristen Dalhes, Vice President of Global Supply Chain at family-owned pet care, food, candy and snack provider Mars Wrigley. She observed that with all of the prior investment in advanced planning systems, planners were still utilizing spreadsheets as a means for organizing needed information needing to be extracted from multiple existing systems. Described was a sense of reality relative to how many customer orders were actually touchless, that cycle times needed to improve, and that planning was more firefighting based. In the case of Mars, a goal was established for instilling end-to-end process decision-making capability with a focus on desired outcomes. The Mars transformation effort identified the need for establishing a connected data layer, described as “one source of truth.”

Summary Observation

In all of the many prior annual Kinexion events that this Editor has had the opportunity to attend, and there are many, it has always been the excitement, candor, openness and sharing that customers continue to provide that has made this conference so meaningful for attendees. The articulation of the elements of supply chain transformation and the needed objectives for synchronizing planning and customer fulfilment decisions are becoming more understood.

 

Bob Ferrari

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Disclosure: Kinaxis is both a client of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and a named sponsor of the Supply Chain Matters blog.