Quintiq-The Biggest Supply Chain Vendor You May Not Have Heard Of




Quintiq may be one of the faster growing supply chain vendors, and seems to be rising up the ranks of the supply chain vendors, based on supply chain revenues. How does a vendor emerge from relative obscurity to become one of the largest vendors? Apparently by largely ignoring discrete industry segments where other supply chain vendors focus and, instead, delivering planning and scheduling optimization software to a broad range of process and service industries. Can you think of another supply chain vendor that counts both the metals industry and Air Traffic Control among its target industries? Us neither. And what other vendor prides itself on setting new records in the Vehicle Routing Problem with Time Windows (VRPTW) 1000-customer Gehring & Homberger benchmark?

Quintiq

Quintiq, based in The Netherlands, has been around since 1997, and has had its US headquarters in the Philadelphia area since 2005. Quintiq likes to position itself as the vendor that can address the toughest "planning puzzles" and, indeed, the PhD that the CEO and co-founder, Victor Allis, holds in artificial intelligence serves to underline the company's affinity for tackling the toughest planning and scheduling issues.

Quintiq’s approach is to apply a lot of mathematical optimization muscle to the toughest problems. So while Quintiq talks about "supply chain planning," a conversation with Quintiq is actually much more likely to revolve around "planning and scheduling optimization." As Quintiq puts it, its value proposition depends on not so much what the pieces of the puzzle are, but rather, how to put the pieces together.

With license fees starting in the low six figures, the target for Quintiq’s puzzle-solving capabilities is wide—from the enterprise with 100 employees up to the largest companies. "Puzzle" is a word that Quintiq uses a lot. (Want to work for Quintiq? Prove your mettle by solving the bus-driver-planning puzzle/challenge.)

This focus on optimization in industries that other vendors are perhaps playing less attention to—and avoiding head-to-head fights in the more crowded supply chain planning space—has allowed the company to grow very rapidly in recent years. While others are tackling more classic supply chain planning challenges, Quintiq might be tackling driver scheduling and route planning in the rail industry to reduce the number of empty trains, or working with Walmart on the assignment of loads to driver-truck combinations in the Walmart truck fleet in order to continually optimize the sequence of trips.

Quintiq has nearly doubled its workforce in just the past 18 months to 700 employees, while revenues are approaching $100M (from $45M in 2010). Quintiq is not shy about its ambitions to continue climbing up the ranks of the largest supply chain vendors. Growing at 35-40% per year as it claims to have done for the past 4 years will do that for you.

Quintiq 5.0

Quintiq came out with its latest release earlier this year, which follows a 3-layer application model designed to provide a balance of core, industry, and customized capability that best serves its customer base. Although not based on anything in particular, the 3 layers are characterized as 80% core solution, 10% industry-specific templates, and 10% customer-specific customization:

  • Top layer (10%): Customer layer—customized to customer precise requirements; does not touch the core code

  • Middle layer (10%): Business templates—industry-specific (“hot mills,” metals industry) templates that “interpret” the core solution

  • Bottom layer (80%): Core solution—the same for every customer; constitutes probably 99% of the code


The 5.o release delivers visualization, enhancements to the business rules engine and the scenario planner, a new mobility server (a separate license), and enhanced integration to SAP. (Quintiq can integrate to any ERP system, but as some 40% of its customer base uses SAP, Quintiq follows the practice of many other vendors and focuses most of its integration attention on SAP.

Other new functionality in 5.0 includes a key performance indicator (KPI) dashboard, a redesigned configuration utility, and new reporting capabilities. Quintiq introduced cloud to its platform in 2006, but there has not been a lot of cloud adoption in its customer base.

Vertical Industries

Quintiq may seem to lack vertical industry focus, but that's because its true focus is on solving puzzles, wherever they may be. That is to say, Quintiq's strength is its puzzle-solving capabilities—wherever the puzzle is, across a range of process and service industries. "When my colleagues and I founded Quintiq, our intention was to develop one planning and optimization platform that could be configured to suit any business model. This unique approach has seen us go from strength to strength," Dr. Allis explains.

This is reflected in the diversity of industries in Quintiq's customer base of 300 customers and 500 site implementations, ranging from metals (where Quintiq is prominent) to air traffic control and other aviation applications, to broadcast production. Quintiq has recently been seeing more interest from the retail and oil and gas industries.

This broad vertical strategy means, however, that finding and training the right sales and support partners is more challenging. As a result, Quintiq's go-to-market strategy is mostly the direct route, with perhaps 20% of its business coming in through the channel.

Having just unveiled a new Web site, what is next in store for Quintiq? Expect to see more of an emphasis on more verticals. While they have avoided the more actively competitive discrete industries, we would not be surprised to see them ready to be more active in the discrete side at some point in the future.
 
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