Kinaxis’ Response Management Helps Keep Supply and Demand in Balance

In the supply chain software market Kinaxis faces stiff competition from the likes of SAP, Oracle, JDA, and Logility, among others, but with double-digit revenue growth for the past seven years the company is obviously doing something right. Supply chain analyst Bob Eastman brings us through Kinaxis' makeovers over the years to a look at the supply chain solution's architecture, then explores the company's innovation strategy as of late, including its pipeline of continual product updates and improvements and focus on its control tower and channel strategy.
Kinaxis has always been known as a vendor with a solid value proposition around responding to demand changes that happen between planning cycles with a ’what-if’ simulation capability. As Kinaxis likes to say, no forecast is ever right, and so the ability to react quickly to changes is paramount. This is perhaps even more important in today’s business climate as an accelerating pace of business puts increasing pressure on planning cycles. With the advantages of a solid value proposition in a unique mix of capabilities—a single platform, a robust stream of innovation, marketing buttressed by an industry-leading blog space, a strong management team, and, reportedly, continuing momentum—why is Kinaxis still trying to figure out, in some ways, what it wants to be when it grows up?

Company Update

Kinaxis’ core competency has always been based on its origins as a "fast MRP" solution with simulation capabilities, and as such, the solution’s value proposition has been more around response management, even as Kinaxis has been broadening its supply chain capabilities.

As the company has evolved from “Advanced Planning Systems” to “Enterprise Planning Systems” to WebPlan to Kinaxis (in 2005), the Kinaxis RapidResponse solution has developed into a solution footprint that includes simulation, supply management, inventory management, and demand planning that helps enterprises make better demand and supply balancing decisions.

Once called the “defining vendor” in response management, Kinaxis, if pressed, will admit to some “taxonomical” fence-sitting in that they do not necessarily make it easy for category-fixated analysts (like, well, me) to neatly define Kinaxis within common supply chain frames of reference.

Kinaxis would prefer that the analyst community ‘grow up’ and move on from traditional paradigms that, since the heyday of advanced planning and scheduling (APS) in the 1990s have emphasized functional excellence at, arguably, the expense of “horizontal process effectiveness”.

Writing about the RedPrairie-JDA merger, TEC Senior Analyst PJ Jakovljevic suggested that the best thing that Kinaxis and competitors could do would be to focus on innovation, new customers, customer success, and growth—real growth on a global basis. Kinaxis, for one, is doing just this.

In our most recent briefing with Kinaxis, the executive team talked to us about wins and expanded footprints in both discrete and process accounts. While most of the company's traction is undeniably in discrete manufacturing industries, Kinaxis reports increasing traction in the pharmaceutical industry.

Kinaxis has been adding to its salesforce considerably, while also refreshing its channel strategy (more on this below), and claims in addition to be growing its professional resources (although the information provided on this new focus was less specific).

While it is certain that Kinaxis is facing stiff, and increasingly stiffer, competition from the likes of SAP, Oracle, JDA, and Logility, among others, Kinaxis, privately owned, talks, non-specifically, about double-digit revenue growth for the past seven years, and “sustained profitability”. Kinaxis is obviously aware of the attention that SAP HANA is getting, but is only too glad to talk about its own proprietary in-memory database and the read-write advantages that Kinaxis’ database offers, the technical details of which still deserve some closer examination. 

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