This is the final of our Supply Chain Matters blog dispatches coming from the Kinaxis Kinexions conference held these past two days in Phoenix.  Previous commentaries included Dispatches One, Two, Three, Four. And Five.

The conference planning team wanted to establish an overall theme of learn, laugh, and share.  They did not disappoint. From my lens, many of the attendees enjoyed the opportunity to partake of this conference and it seemed to this observer that many attendees were pleased they came.  A large shout-out goes to Kirsten Watson, Carol Watson, Lori Smith and the entire team at Kinaxis for coordinating an enjoyable conference.

Reviewing my notes and conversations, I noted that many of the customer presentations emphasized:

  • Continued expansion in internationally sourced demand or supply sourcing
  • A far more accelerated pace of business requiring quicker planning and decision-making cycles.  The uncertainty of markets coupled with the complexity of global supply chains often requires teams to be able to evaluate different business scenarios.
  • An increased need for supply chain segmentation based on desired business outcomes.
  • Supply chain risk remains an important need.
  • Sales and operations planning processes involving dynamic and often changing business and supply chain dynamics does require technology augmentation.

I also come away with the following summary impressions from the conference.

In the positive category:

One consistent impression from this and previous year’s presentations and conversations is that Rapid Response customers are generally pleased with their overall relationship and support received from Kinaxis.  Many became engaged with this vendor either because no effective planning automation tool existed, frustration with the capabilities of their existing planning systems, and specifically the inability to keep-up with the current speed of required business decisions. That trend shows signs of increased momentum.

The Kinaxis RapidResponse core industry verticals of high tech, aerospace and pharmaceutical are each individually moving at an incredibly rapid rate of external and internal business change and many of the customer presenters consistently reinforced these themes. RapidResponse is in my view, well positioned to be in the ‘sweet spot’ of supply chain capability needs in this ‘new normal’.

The true story of Kinaxis comes from its collection of satisfied customers who continue to work in a two-way collaborative relationship.  Customers seem generally pleased with their vendor relationships. The energy and enthusiasm of the overall Kinaxis team is discernable, and I state that in honest objectivity. I’m pleased to have Kinaxis as one of other extended Supply sponsors of this blog, and to be deemed one of other contributors to the Supply Chain Expert Community.

Kinaxis is one of very few vendors in the supply chain arena that can demonstrate a culture of combining good natured humor with the stress of business. The Late, Late Supply Chain Show format was well received by attendees.  Another tip-of-the-hat goes to Bill Dubois for serving as show host and effectively combining business and humor segments.

In the needs work category

Kinaxis, like any other technology vendor, listens and respond to ongoing needs of customers, especially large globally based customers. I did discern some needs in overcoming the objections of internal IT in having yet another analytical system, perceived not to be in support of common systems architecture, information integration security and reporting standards.  This problem is not solely a Kinaxis one, but rather a challenge for any mission critical supply chain technology vendor evaluated as an alternative to the ERP supply chain planning option. The Kinaxis technology stack is sound. However, supply chain functional teams want the ability to reassure their respective IT teams on adherence to technology standards, whether such systems are either inside or outside the firewall.

Bottom-line, Kinexions was a great conference.

Bob Ferrari