Event Report: Making Valuable Kinexions That Matter

At the Kinaxis Kinexions event last week, CEO Doug Colbeth and the Kinaxis team delivered an exciting and thought provoking show. Despite some would say, over the top showmanship, the stars of this show were clearly customers. On the stage, at the Industry Influencers session, but more importantly at the tables, all sharing their passion for what they see as a key SCM tool. Below are summarized reports on What’s New, What We Saw and What it Means for You.

What was new?

Rapid Response Control Tower

The Kinaxis Rapid Response Control Tower was launched by Kinaxis CEO Doug Colbeth to kick-off the event. The image below depicts all the component extensions to the current Kinaxis    S& OP and SCM product.

Specifically the product extensions with RapidResponse Control Tower allow companies to use a single cloud-based enterprise planning and “what-if” simulation solution to increase customer service, reduce corporate risks, and improve financial performance. This means no more disparate planning tools in multiple functional silos allowing them to simultaneously plan, monitor and respond across multiple areas of the business.

The specific additions in the RapidResponse Control Tower announcement are Project Management , Workforce Optimization , Profitability Management and  Sales Force Optimization .

Point of View POV: Conceptually, Kinaxis has something special here but further examination is still required. Leveraging the in-memory power of Rapid Response and the high volume, solid SCM data it collects to support integrated financial and other business decisions in near real time is spot on. In fact this could be the beginning of a solution to deliver what we’ve been calling The SCM Company concept. The Rapid Response Control Tower represents one more step up the continuum towards delivering an interactive Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) solution. By combining this with current advanced integrated simulation capabilities Kinaxis may soon place themselves in a different class.

What We Saw

This was first Kinaxis Kinexions conference attended and were very appreciative of being invited down with associated costs being covered. Offering up some constructive improvement suggestions to make this great event even better would be to work with speakers in advance to ensure presentation formats are appropriately color schemed to be easy to see, and also include some images and color in others. Content wise in future suggest presentations focus purely on the informational and are not salesy/commercial in nature. May be too sensitive to this, but the internal salesy alarm went off way too many times.

Point of View POV: Very important since Kinaxis also took the unique approach of inviting several key prospects to the user event. If taking the place of one of these prospects, definitely would not have seen the above as a positive. Just give me the facts, examples and tribal user knowledge without any propaganda.

Sharing this only to highlight the distilled user passion, quality, unique nature and capabilities of the Rapid Response product. The many excellent case study presentations have enough merit on their own that above messaging is only dilutive and counterproductive when viewed by this caliber and level of executives.

The Industry Influencers session was excellent including solid and valuable user presentations. Open sessions should be modeled on these as they were purely informational. All demonstrated clearly how Rapid Response had been truly impactful, if not downright transformational, in their business. Only miss here was that last item on the agenda for this session Roadmap was not covered? Time became an issue but such an important agenda item should take precedence over others to ensure this key directional information gets shared.

Point of View POV: Solid case studies with factual content are what needs to be shared to rapidly turn sales prospects into customers. Makes them into new members of one of, if not the strongest, group of SCM software advocates seen to date. (And that based on following SCM systems since their inception) At one table in fact, a customer shared his angst that IT were currently trying to isolate and eliminate the Rapid Response application. This seasoned user was ready to put himself on the line for a product he knew was CRITICAL for him to do his job.

What it Means for You

Two key areas of emphasis emerged at Kinaxis Kinexions which hold greater meaning for those looking to take their supply chain operations to the next level. These are Risk Response and Mitigation as well as creating increased Connections and Collaboration along and across supply chains.

Risk Response and Mitigation

Just about all companies attending were impacted by the supply chain implications of Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Joe McBeth of Jabil presented details of their experience immediately following the devastation. The Kinaxis Rapid Reponse system was instrumental in quickly scoping and allowing Jabil to effectively manage their reaction to this major disruption. Various scenario modeling and ongoing review and adjustment with rapid reporting/communications to customers gave them a proactive edge in responding. In Q&A author asked speaker to provide an order of magnitude of their response utilizing Rapid Response versus alternate means. Expected a two or 3 times better response, instead answer was the type of response they made would have been impossible with the Kinaxis Rapid Response system.

Point of View POV: In the face of increasing disasters and absence of costly full redundant supply networks ability to respond is key differentiator. Rapid real time data access, quick and accurate scenario and simulation capabilities will be indispensable solution for global manufacturers.

Connections and Collaboration

In today’s world of rapid fire social networking there is value to be derived from connecting the brains of all participants in and across supply channels. Both inside and outside your company creating connections with each other and also with the information people need.

Much talk at Kinexions surfaced about “connecting brains” and below is a tagcloud connecting all the posts made on Kinexions during the event. (100% system generated)


Clearly it is everything outside our brains that represent the weakest link. So this mindmeld seems a worthwhile goal, but what type of connections are we looking for? First off there is creating vertical connections along the supply chain to improve overall performance and increased decision compression. Secondly there is connecting our brains directly with the information needed in an accurate and ready to use format. Third and finally, are the connections which can be made between minds and systems horizontally across supply chains. So to help SCM professionals get at the billions of dollars still left on the table in uncaptured Synergy. See our recent post on new report to learn more about The Search for Synergy In Supply Chains

Point of View POV: The methods for identifying, merging, managing and capturing savings associated with horizontal synergy are still emerging. In our introduction this year of the Seven S’s of Supply chain Management, key to this is use of Semantic data in SCM. However, it seems unlikely that traditional players are going to re-engineer their systems/databases to support this. An opening exists for players like Kinaxis committed to extracting, converting, merging and then managing the big data associated with such synchronization.

Connecting the brains of all the key users, stakeholders, channel partners and providers in the business with each other is key. Giving them the accurate and timely information they need and tools to rapidly drive business improvement is what’s truly valuable and in the end isn’t that what really matters?

Jeff Ashcroft


Time for your POV.

Were you at the @Kinaxis Kinexions event? Do you agree with opinions shared above? Are you a Kinaxis customer? Will you be implementing the Rapid Response Control Tower? Have you had a good experiences with Kinaxis? Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: Jeff (at) ConstellationRG (dot) com .