Thoughts from Kinexions: The Power of One

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The Kinaxis user conference Kinexions just wrapped up this afternoon at the beautiful Westin Kierland resort in Scottsdale Arizona.  It was an action packed three days with insightful learnings from industry pundits, inspiring and entertaining presentations from customers and educational breakout sessions.  Add to this a lot of fun, great food and plenty of networking opportunities and you have the makings for a real success.

The theme of the conference was called the “Power of One” and it talked to how having a single solution for end to end supply chain leads to improved responsiveness, better planning, better collaboration. I recall a time not that long ago where you would need to have multiple devices to perform a few simple functions.  The truly connected geek needed a cell phone for making calls, a PDA for managing calendars and contacts, a Blackberry for e-mails (remember when a Blackberry could only send and receive e-mail?) a pager to let you know when someone needed to get in touch with you and finally a GPS so that you wouldn't get lost.  Pretty soon, you started to look like this;

When the first smart phone came out, we suddenly had all the capability of multiple devices in a single compact package and the world changed.  Today we look back at those days and think that needing all those devices was pretty silly...and it was Yet if you think about the state of supply chain software today, we are very much in the mode of a different device(software) for each function. We have MRP systems, forecasting systems, demand management systems, inventory analysis systems...the list goes on.  And of course, none of those systems talk "nicely" to each other.  Data needs to be moved between systems, and as there is no way to get real time information flow to occur between each piece of software.  Even software suites are not fully interconnected.  You can't, for example modify a forecast in the demand management module and instantly see the impact on the supply plan, even if the modules are provided by the same vendor and are supposedly "integrated". The result of all these systems is a supply chain where information flow is slowed by the need to move data between all these systems.  S&OP takes weeks from information gathering to executive meeting.  Evaluating demand or supply changes takes days and more often than not, decisions are made based on Excel models or guessing because it is too difficult to get the data from the various disparate systems.  Further, the complexity of managing all these systems and ensuring information continues to move drives significant IT overhead costs. So, imagine an alternative.  Imagine a supply chain where all data exists in a single system.  Where everything from forecast to supplier collaboration is not only provided by a single vendor but in a single piece of software, with a single data model.  Imagine these supply chain calculations occurring in seconds.   Imagine what this would mean to your ability to plan and respond.  Now think about how your current supply chain software works with various semi-integrated modules that don't really work well together.  Seems pretty silly...and it is. If your goal is to turn your supply chain into a strategic advantage, rather than just a cost center you need a single system for end to end supply chain.  You need the Power of One.  

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