Last week, this industry analyst attended and spoke at mid-market focused ERP provider’s QAD Explore 2016 conference. In a prior Part One Supply Chain Matters commentary, I shared overall impressions regarding QAD’s current applications software and technology activities along with various Cloud based application software extensions that have been added. In this part two commentary, I will share additional impressions garnered from my attendance.

As our Supply Chain Matters readers are likely aware, this Editor and independent supply chain industry analyst has attended many technology conferences over the years, often highlighted on this blog.  Thus, I have developed a high bar threshold in differentiating marketing and PowerPoint centered spin from impressions that are rooted in positive currents.

QAD and its customers impressed me with such positive currents.

An impression that I walked away with after having the opportunity to attend various keynotes and other attendee breakout sessions is that QAD and its customer community understand the importance that manufacturing and supply chain business process and decision-making capabilities play in supporting expected business outcomes. They reflect language and actions that manufacturing and supply chain capabilities do matter. If one were not aware that Explore was an ERP technology focused conference, you would have thought it was a high caliper manufacturing and supply chain industry conference.

For me, that led to the impression that QAD as a vendor truly understands the unique needs of mid-market manufacturers that often reside in supply chain value-chains dominated by larger global manufacturers. Within lower tiers of a larger supply chain, the emphasis is on responsiveness and resiliency to ever changing needs, and in joint collaboration related to integrated information flow and decision-making. In my view, QAD understands and is responding to such needs. As noted in our prior posting, QAD’s customer base further includes operating divisions or lines of business associated with corporate names often associated with larger ERP providers, thus one gets a true sense of living two-tiered ERP deployment strategies that are producing positive outcomes.

One striking and overreaching observation is the positive energy that is manifested by customer’s and end users towards QAD. The three days of sessions reflected mutual admiration among both parties. Attendees exhibited enthusiasm for technology and business process requirements and various QAD presenters reflected passion in addressing such needs. Sessions were genuinely applauded by attendees and two-way interaction was the norm. It is no wonder that QAD consistently receives high customer satisfaction rankings. It is demonstrated in culture and actions.

As an example, customers have sought help supporting changing industry regulatory requirements. QAD is responding with specific functionality needed to support ASC 606/IFRS Revenue Reporting requirements mandated for January 2018.  Similarly, the medical device industry is moving toward Unique Device Identification requirements which QAD development teams are addressing. During this year’s conference, customers were invited to participate with developers in hands-on labs to work on smarter navigation, data-driven user-interfaces and other personalization needs that will most likely be implemented in upcoming “Channel Islands” product releases.

Finally, this author would recommend that other technology providers, who desire to make their customer conferences more meaningful, speak to QAD’s marketing team and conference organizers. Explore attendees were offered attractive prizes for attending the most sessions, turning in session evaluations, visiting Solution Expo partner booths or filling in and submitting overall conference evaluation inputs. On state, QAD CMO Carter Lloyds initiated a cool real-time program that predicted in phases, which specific attendees had the closest odds of winning a prize based on current inputs and activities.  That drove individual and team enthusiasm.

In the final posting of this series, I will highlight the panel discussion that addressed the ongoing challenges and root causes of skill and training gaps related to today’s manufacturing and supply chain industry environments.

 

Bob Ferrari

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