As usual it was a busy first day at the Kinaxis annual customer conference. Here in Scotsdale.

Today’s sessions kicked off with an address from Kinaxis President and CEO Douglas Colbeth who informed of another record breaking year for the company. He then reflected on the early days of Amazon, and their keen strategic focus on delivering the best customer experience, the desired business outcome, supported by a superior supply chain fulfillment capability. He contrasted how Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had a strong belief in investing in superior technology, in spite on justifying short-term financial results, to achieve the capabilities that consumers experience today on Amazon. Colbeth’s vision for Kinaxis is to think like Amazon, in customer experience, power of integration and speed of deployment.

Perhaps the best customer presentation that this author has seen in a very long time was delivered by Laura Dionne, Director of Worldwide Operations Planning at TriQuint Semiconductor. The title was: Compromise: Confessions of a Supply Chain Dropout, and it was delivered as an accounting of the contrast of initially leading supply chain planning efforts at a very large, and a smaller, more nimble market provider. At the global based company, there was always a frustration of having to continually compromise on required or desired supply chain wide planning and analysis capabilities because of either IT cost obstacles or enterprise ERP system limitations. That resulted in the permutations of 3300 linked Excel spreadsheets to manage the overall planning process. Laura then joined TriQuint, a mid-market semiconductor producer, and led planning staff amounting to 30 people, and came to discover Kinaxis RapidResponse capabilities, recently implemented this year. Supply Chain Matters cannot do total justice to the delivery of classic lines like it looks like Excel, feels like Excel, but way more than Excel. The important messages came in the articulation of the acceptance by the collective planning team in a tool that provided far more options, more accurate information, and was much easier for planners to utilize. Laura’s ending was classic- tearing up the paper that had Compromise as banner, with a declaration that Compromise is no longer accepted. While there may have been some obvious professional assistance in use of select TriQuint IT managers playing themselves as actors, coupled with audience grabbing background sound effects, never-the-less it was a product marketing manager’s dream customer presentation, and typical of what is often found at a Kinaxis conference.

Our afternoon was dedicated to attending an invitation only Industry Influencer briefing sessions hosted by Kinaxis product marketing. That tract included some rather in-depth briefings on Kinaxis technology components, and what makes them different in the market. In our previous five years of attendance, this was a far deeper dive into the underlying technology as well as some futures in the longer-term product roadmap. One of the great aspects of Kinaxis culture is the willingness to provide access to actual customers and their views of the technology. A special thanks goes out to Shellie Molina, Vice President of Global Supply Chain at First Solar, and Guenter Schmidt, Director of IT Applications for TriQuint Semiconductor for their valuable perspectives concerning their individual Kinaxis RapidResponse implementations, and to Trevor Miles, Vice President Thought Leadership, and Kirk Munroe, Vice President, Marketing at Kinaxis for directing the content of this briefing. With each passing Kinexions, more enterprise technology focused industry influencers are invited to these sessions, influencers such as Ray Wang, and that obviously adds to broader market discovery of Kinaxis. In our later summary impressions commentary, Supply Chain Matters will provide some further thoughts on our takeaways from the Influencer briefing.

Tomorrow brings more activities including this author’s participation on an Influencer’s panel which I’m looking forward to.

Stay tuned.

Bob Ferrari

Disclosure: Kinaxis is one of other named sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters blog and has a business services relationship with The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC.