This is the fifth of our postings coming from the Kinaxis Kinexions conference being held these next two days in Phoenix.  Previous commentaries included Dispatch One, Two, Three, and Four.

The morning of Day Two included a series of presentations representing other core industry verticals for Kinaxis, namely pharmaceutical and aerospace. I especially enjoyed a presentation delivered by Rayne Waller, Vice President, Supply Chain, and Elisabeth Kaszas, Director, Supply Chain, both of bio-pharmaceutical manufacturer Amgen.  Rayne began is presentation with an observation that I believe, that many other pharma-related supply chain teams should embrace, namely that the supply chain planning and synchronization challenges within the industry are similar to those that are being addressed in other industries such as high technology and consumer products.  There are certainly the unique challenges involved in scheduling complex biology-related batch manufacturing, shelf life and expiry date.  But the challenges for demand and supply synchronization, along with sales and operations planning alignment are similar.  Both presenters did a superb job of identifying internal and external business drivers that drive required supply chain planning capabilities within a dynamically changing business environment. They also addressed the successful adoption of an information integration strategy that allows information to flow from a backbone ERP system to and from the Kinaxis RapidResponse application.  The Amgen implementation is about to reach its first year anniversary, and the Amgen supply chain teams are benefitting from reduction in planning cycle times, increased capabilities in scenario planning, expiry and shelf life planning considerations and more efficient inventory management.

The other interesting dynamic was the interplay of the vice president, driving strategy and change management, with the director who manages day-to-day supply chain planning iterations.  We all got a first-hand, unscripted look at how that interchange occurs in terms of setting strategic expectations, setting the next milestone, and communicating supply chain’s impact to the business.  In the case of Amgen, the supply chain team is setting an impressive example on addressing and implementing pragmatic change.

To no surprise, the first question in the Q&A session of the Amgen presentation sought more details on the integration to the backbone SAP ERP system, and how the Amgen supply chain team addressed its information integration strategy. Many of the customer presentations over these past two days have provided rather positive experiences on Rapid Response’s capabilities in information integration, especially in SAP and Oracle ERP backbone environments.  In my view, this robust integration capability is a clear strength, and one that the Kinaxis teams should not be bashful in expressing to prospects.

Other morning sessions included a presentation by Kinaxis’s most widely deployed customer, Jabil, and a presentation from newest go-live customer, Raytheon Missile Systems.

This afternoon, the conference begins to wind down with a continuation of customer training workshops and a final product roadmap presentation.

Our final Supply Chain Matters dispatch will provide summary impressions from this year’s conference.

Bob Ferrari