Reflecting on our user conference at the end of October and the comments from several analysts, which I covered in a previous blog, I failed to mention the excellent 3-part coverage by Bob Ferrari of Supply Chain Matters.Bob starts his coverage by noting something about which we are very proud, with my emphasis:
Industry analysts, market influences and invited prospective customers are provided unrestricted access to all of the conference sessions and allowed to mingle with all attendees, something that unfortunately, all software or services vendors do not practice. Our one restriction as an independent industry analyst and supply chain social media mechanism is to respect the stated confidentiality needs of specific customers or Kinaxis, which is appropriate.
In commenting on the opening remarks by our CEO, Doug Colbeth, Bob comments that:
…at Kinaxis board meetings, the discussions are always focused on ways to add value for customers vs. existing competitor’s [SIC] in the market: “” By our view, those comments indeed provide the true descriptor of the unique fabric that makes up Kinaxis and its approach with customers.
Bob is correct. We are forging a new path for supply chain planning that is not stuck in concepts first formulated in the 1980s and realized in solutions dating from the 1990s. We are not your father’s supply chain solutions. We are young, we are hip, and we are different. And, in case you missed it, we are proud of it. Nothing captures what this means to our customers more than Bob’s observation, again with my emphasis, that:
…one of the consistent and somewhat unique themes that we have consistently and objectively observed at past Kinexions, namely customer’s open articulation of their enthusiasm concerning the value that software has provided in their business and decision-making processes, coupled with the ongoing existence of a positive partnership with a software vendor, one that consistently demonstrates responsiveness to their needs. Trust me in the statement that while many software and services vendors consistently attempt to achieve this state in a customer focused event, it is something that cannot be consistently scripted or orchestrated. It has to be organic and living.
Commenting on the many customer presentations at the event, Bob captures the key reasons customers turn to Kinaxis very well:
Constantly changing business and supply chain environments requiring more responsive and more predictive planning. A realization that the majority of today’s supply chain information exists outside of an organization’s backbone or legacy systems. Either frustration with attempting to implement an existing ERP based planning application, or current gaps in required planning capabilities needed. Seeking a trusted partnership with a technology vendor and insuring that the vendor is responsive to ongoing needs. The critical need to insure user acceptance and adoption of any tool selected, and that the system actually does what it is supposed to do.
Wow. If we had stated this in a brochure no-one would believe us. They would think it was just more Marketing blah-blah. But these are the reasons Bob heard our customers articulate. I love it. All I can say is thank you to our customers that presented – Applied Materials, Cisco, First Solar, Amgen, Flextronics, and NCR – and to all the other customers who chatted to Bob and the other Influencers during the conference. In closing, when commenting on Kinaxis’ product direction and opportunities, Bob quotes from Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”. The part that I believe captures both the Kinaxis spirit and why RapidResponse is so relevant to our customers and prospects is:
Yes Bob, we will continue to take the road less traveled. It has made all the difference to our customers, and it is what makes us able to not only respond to traditional supply chain approaches differently, but also to address different supply chain problems, allowing our customers to Know Sooner and Act Faster by not only Planning, but also Monitoring and Responding quickly and profitably. It is the combination of these 3 complementary capabilities that makes us different.
As Doug, our CEO, said: “Why would we want to emulate the competition?” Vive la différence.