Unparalleled customer affinity on full display at Kinexions '18

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It’s a month since I joined Kinaxis, and what a month it’s been! I’ve seen my fellow Kinaxisians (I think I just made up a new term – or not – but I’m using it) in action, I’ve seen the product in action, and most importantly, I’ve seen our customers in action. Our annual customer conference Kinexions was the best capstone I could’ve hoped for at the 30-day mark, because I haven’t seen customers show such passion for a solutions provider in my 20+ years in this industry. On my flight back home last night after Kinexions, I found some time to reflect, and here it is:

Customers love Kinaxis, and they love to tell the world about it

Kinaxis customers love the software, the value they derive, the training, the certifications, and the Kinaxisians with whom they interact. I saw and heard customers who’ve been with Kinaxis for decades, customers who have only just begun their relationship with Kinaxis, prospective customers who are considering Kinaxis, and everyone in between. Almost all of them have taken their out-of-the-box RapidResponse® (RR, as some of them affectionately call it), and personalized it to make it their own. They’ve re-configured existing screens, task flows and reports, and written new ones. They’ve expanded their application of RR in ways that are sometimes news to Kinaxis, and in ways that drive enhancement and innovation back into Kinaxis (I'll have more on innovation in a future post). All without needing any coding or relying on IT. How empowering is that? They talk proudly and gleefully of the value they’ve derived from it: dollars and cents, hours saved, tough questions answered in minutes not days, lives lived and so on. For example, we heard from a California-based test and measurement equipment manufacturer about how wildfires destroyed their facilities, how they and their community banded together to help each other get through those times, and how RapidResponse helped the business get back to keeping its customer commitments quickly. A Canadian EMS provider talked about their loyalty to Kinaxis, and how one of their demand planning managers – a lifetime Kinaxis user and Kinexions regular – who had to miss this year’s Kinexions due to a life-threatening ailment still wanted Kinaxis to know how much it had changed her life. Kinaxis customers enjoy taking training courses and going up the certifications ladder! They’re curious and eager to learn, with almost child-like excitement in comparing their number of certifications and levels with each other. Micron's Trace Rogers set the mark at five as the number to beat, for those so inclined!

They respect and trust Kinaxisians and Kinaxis, to advise them well, to provide robust, sensible, usable solutions to their requirements, and to stick with them “in sickness and in health” on their value journey. They were candid – in presentations and in private conversations – that when deployments didn’t go quite as planned (life happens sometimes!), they engaged and trusted Kinaxis and its implementation partners to get them back on track. Surely, this didn’t come about overnight! A Director of Supply Chain at an RV and automotive components manufacturer, and a VP of Supply Chain at a consumer products company, independently and openly shared that they thought Kinaxis’ solutions should sell themselves and that they would be willing to talk to anyone at any time on why they should select Kinaxis. Amazing. (Hmm, maybe we can redeploy Sales & Marketing elsewhere!)

Our customers love the sense of community

With all of the things our customers love about Kinaxis, they also love to talk about Kinaxis with each other. They enjoy sharing tips, tricks, techniques and revel in showing off the cool new functionality they’ve discovered, and the interesting task flows and screens and reports they’ve built – and do so with child-like glee! They share their challenges, brainstorm solutions, and offer mutual support and coaching and mentorship. To paraphrase the Director of Supply Chain COE at a large biomedical device manufacturer, “I would love to mentor new customers. I’ve got to pay it forward because Customers A (an electrical equipment manufacturer) and B (from big pharma) helped us when we were new.” It’s amazing how our customers coalesce into communities by not just by industry, but by function, and indeed even around social topics like women in supply chain and technology.

As Kinaxisians we live our company values

Be customer-centric. Be self-empowered. Be adventurous. Be real, and laugh often. At Kinaxis, these company values are more than just letters on the wall or webpage. They're one of the biggest reasons I decided to join Kinaxis. That, and the fact that we actively recruit people on the autism spectrum (I learned a new term yesterday: neuro-diversity). It felt right! And, I’m glad to see that Kinaxisians live by those values. I “see” it on the phone or Skype every day, saw it walking the halls at HQ and Kinexions. Sure, we all have off days, but mostly smiling faces, with ready wit and humor. Our lean Marketing team worked tirelessly to pull off a fantastic Kinexions, caring for our customers, our speakers and each other with nary a frown or droopy face (not at 6 am and not at 11 pm, not on Day 1 and not on Day 3). Our Product Management team juggles innumerable balls simultaneously, makes it look simple and does it with a sense of humor (I haven’t seen Product Managers introduce innovations and enhancements with skits on mainstage! Bravo!). Before Tuesday, I hadn’t had a CEO tell me that if he weren’t in supply chain, he’d be in a band.

I haven’t seen a solutions provider give prospective customers, industry analysts and financial analysts unfettered access to customers and to the entire conference – that level of transparency talks to how Kinaxis builds trust with its customers and employees!

We must protect the Kinaxis Crown Jewels

Our customers, their love and trust for us, their sense of community, our values, our sense of community – those are our crown jewels! To be clear, technology is essential – RapidResponse is a vital ingredient in the glue that binds us, and our crown jewels make those bonds unbreakable. Kinaxis has differentiated technology on offer in the market; it has a history of innovating to meet market needs and will continue to apply the latest technologies (AI/ML, big data, IOT, blockchain) where each will drive maximum customer value. It is this unwavering focus on our customers, our users, our values and the community that will guide how we apply that technology, which will ultimately help us succeed in our mission – to digitalize and transform supply chains. Even as we grow, scale and change, it’s our collective responsibility to protect those crown jewels. I hope this is the Kinaxis you know too. If you attended Kinexions ’18, I’d love to hear your impressions of the event, or if you have anything you’d like to share about your experience with Kinaxis, I’d love to read them in the comments below.

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