Last week, Supply Chain Matters attended the Kinaxis 2012 Kinexions conference held in Scottsdale Arizona. We have previously shared a series of observations and commentaries which can all be by accessed by clicking on the web links below:
Reflecting on the two days, which passed rather quickly, some summary observations and impressions come to mind.
- The event itself continues to reinforce year after year that software provider conferences do not have to take on a high gloss sales-driven image, but rather an event that attendees can conclude that they truly enjoyed attending and gained knowledge. Kinexions continues to blend humor, enjoyable experience as well as education. Don Gaspari of NCR Corp. coined the true essence of Kinexions: “Crazy Canadians Creating Change.” Well stated, Dan. We thank Kinaxis for the opportunities to participate in this annual event.
- On the product front, Kinaxis RapidResponse continues to mature. With the current 11.1 Release and upcoming 11.2 Release, some rather interesting supply chain planning and response management capabilities become available. In 11.1, mobile computing and Integrated Project Management become available, the latter of which was described and demonstrated at this year’s conference.
- The 11.3 release of RapidResponse, tentatively scheduled for early 2013, adds more mobility computing and dashboard features, attribute-based planning, variable bill of materials and other capabilities. For the very first time, a form of process orchestration will become available, a capability that has been described as highly sought after by existing customers. This functionality allows users to orchestrate and plan a repeatable business process, such as the company’s sales and operations planning (S&OP) process. An introduction of the ability to configure a repeatable process template while setting parameters for required decision events and alert to exceptions moves RapidResponse into the initial stages for existing as a business process management (BPM) platform. In a webinar describing supply chain control tower capabilities, this author has previously described BPM support capabilities as an important requirement. Thus, in our view, Process Orchestration should be viewed as a watershed milestone concerning RapidResponse development and delivery capabilities, and Kinexions customer should pay close attention.
- In contrast to last year, the 2012 Kinexions themes featured a more direct emphasis on the cloud deployment aspects of RapidResponse as well as direct indications for customers to expect broader partner managed services options in the not too distant future. Then again, in the view of Supply Chain Matters, Kinaxis has exhibited a mixed success rate in prior managed services partner initiatives.
- The special invitation Influencers briefing session provided detailed deep-dives into the underlying architectural components that underpin RapidResponse including its patented versioning technology along with the platform’s data management tenets. This author had the opportunity to probe on the foundational aspects of the cloud-based offering, including multi-tenancy aspects. For the first time in this author’s memory, Kinaxis also shared a high development roadmap through the year 2015, which at the surface provides an interesting perspective on RapidResponse support for far broader and deeper vertical industry support, and the strategic direction of Kinaxis itself.
A final observation relates to software company values and culture. In the past twelve or so years of observing and counseling supply chain technology firms, I have observed many predictable trends. Many providers started small, with a breakthrough idea and true innovation for the market, and ultimately grew revenues and market attention. Some had cultures and market tenets that led to their demise over time. Others were acquired because of the innovation they provided, only to have customer attention diluted with a far broader scope of organization. A few were truly hidden gems with unique characteristics in style, culture and intense attention to solving the customer’s business challenges which had these customers singing the praises for the benefits of the technology in making their jobs more productive and valued by the business.
Too often, I have observed software companies reach a fork in the road. Market success shifts the focus toward scale of growth and frequency of deals. A new culture starts to develop, one that is focused on sales metrics and the big prizes remaining in the market. That is not to say that such goals cannot be achieved while maintaining the core values that were the very foundation of success.
In this author’s view as an observer since its founding as a company, Kinaxis now rests at in important crossroad. Kinexions can continue as the manifestation of the customer description of “Crazy Canadians Creating (Market ) Change” or it can be yet another industry sales-driven, I’m the top dog in the pound event that many distaste and lose enthusiasm.
This concludes our series of dedicated commentaries related to Kinaxis.
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. The opinions and views expressed in the above commentary reflect the individual views of the author.