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Day one of the Kinexions 2011 began with a full agenda of customer and partner presentations along with a significant announcement regarding the renaming and product direction for the Kinaxis software suite.  The conference kicked off with a rousing rock music video featuring many of the employees of Kinaxis welcoming this year’s attendees to the conference.  This author has attended many, many software conferences and this is the first time we have witnessed an opening video that actually features the people behind the scenes and thanks customers for their business.  It was great.

Doug Colbeth, Kinaxis President and CEO opened the conference by summarizing three themes that he has consistently heard from his many conversations with C-level executives. The first was represented by a person jumping out of a building, namely that in today’s volatile business environment, executives often have the feeling that they have jumped into a free-fall zone, waiting for the bungee cord will stop the free fall. That bungee cord is often the supply chain responding to a significant event. The second major theme was the funnel cloud of demand volatility, with the implication that the need to effectively respond to constant market demand change is ever more important.  The third theme was visualized as a junkyard, representing a reflection of the current frustration among C-level executives of the lack of flexibility and business responsiveness to the current climate of business among the current IT applications landscape that populates many large firms today. That frustration is often reflected toward corporate ERP and legacy systems that were designed with far different assumptions related to the speed of business change, and the realities of highly outsourced and complex global supply chains.

Colbeth noted that these recent conversations have reflected the need by customers to have a unified information portal of the entire supply chain that could serve as a control point for more predictive decisions and actions. In many industry settings, the umbrella of supply chain business processes and related decision-making have broadened to include new product introduction, supplier management, risk management, sales, operations and financial planning as well as customer services management. The analogy of need is often drawn to having a control tower of the supply chain, a single point of command and control. Colbeth noted that rather than providing multiple applications and platforms, Kinaxis will continue to focus on a single platform that supports multiple supply chain related decision-support needs. He reaffirmed that Kinaxis will always have a built-in bias that the supply chain is the company’s center of the universe.  With that came the announcement that the company is renaming its product to Kinaxis RapidResponse Control Tower, which will continue to support broader supply chain business process decision-making needs. Kinaxis has four customers that are deploying various aspects of supply chain control and over the course of the conference, customers, prospects and market influencers will be provided additional perspectives as to planned functionality.

Needless to state, this is a rather bold and dramatic direction for Kinaxis, one that promises to provide added dynamics to the supply chain technology provider landscape.

In our subsequent dispatches, we will provide some additional highlights of day one of Kinexions 2011, so stay tuned.

Bob Ferrari

Added Note: Kinaxis is one of other named sponsors of the the Supply Chain Matters blog and the author provides services to this vendor.