Monthly Archives: July 2015

Apply for a SuperNova Award – Recognizing leaders in digital business

Every year the Constellation SuperNova Awards recognize eight individuals for their leadership in digital business. Nominate yourself or someone you know by August 7, 2015.

The SuperNova Awards honor leaders that demonstrate excellence in the application and adoption of new and emerging technologies.
In its fifth year, the Constellation SuperNova Awards will recognize eight individuals who demonstrate true leadership in digital business through their application and adoption of new and emerging technologies. We’re searching for leaders and teams who have innovatively applied disruptive technolgies to their business models as a means of adapting to the rapidly-changing digital business environment. Special emphasis will be given to projects that seek to redefine how the enterprise uses technology on a large scale.

We’re searching for the boldest, most transformative technology projects out there. Apply for a SuperNova Award by filling out the application here:

SuperNova Award Categories
• Consumerization of IT & The New C-Suite – The Enterprise embraces consumer tech, and perfects it.
•  Data to Decisions – Using data to make informed business decisions.
•  Digital Marketing Transformation – Put away that megaphone. Marketing in the digital age requires a new approach.
•  Future of Work – The processes and technologies addressing the rapidly shifting work paradigm.
•  Matrix Commerce – Commerce responds to changing realities from the supply chain to the storefront.
•  Next Generation Customer Experience – Customers in the digital age demand seamless service throughout all lifecycle stages and across all channels.
•  Safety and Privacy – Not ‘security’. Safety and Privacy is the art and science of the art and science of protecting information assets, including your most important assets: your people.
•  Technology Optimization & Innovation – Innovative methods to balance innovation and budget requirements.

5 reasons to apply for a SuperNova Award:

• Exposure to the SuperNova Award judges, comprised of the top influencers in enterprise technology
• Case study highlighting the achievements of the winners written by Constellation analysts
• Complimentary admission to the SuperNova Award Gala Dinner and Constellation’s Connected Enterprise for all finalists
(November 4-6, 2015) lodging and travel not included
• One year unlimited access to Constellation’s research library
• Winners featured on Constellation’s blog and weekly newsletter

Learn more about the SuperNova Awards.

What to expect when applying for a SuperNova Award. Tips and sample application.


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Filed under Current Events

Plex manufacturing makes happy customers – which leads to healthy growth

I recently attended PowerPlex, Plex Systems’ annual user conference, the largest in their history with over 1000 attendees. It was hosted in the biosphere that is the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville Tennessee; I think I have finally figured out how to navigate the vast property (anyone who has been there knows that the place is absolutely massive, over a beer I am happy to share a funny experience…it involves different shades of green and trying to enter the wrong room).


Show me some numbers!

Enough about my issues with hotel lay outs, what was not confusing from my time spent in Nashville was the positive energy that was running throughout the event. The high level of enthusiasm as well as the positive attitude flowed through the event – Plex truly is living up to their goal of making their customers “happy ERP customers.”

Some highlights from the event:

  • It is all about being the best manufacturer possible – Plex’s community of customers is truly touching a large part of the global economy. From main stage, CEO Jason Blessing, highlighted some impressive numbers of what Plex solutions are powering throughout their installed base:
    • 6m items are being produced weekly.
    • 41m quality checks are taking place per year.
    • $25b worth of customer revenue generated annually.
    • 945b pounds of materials handled on an annual basis.

Some impressive numbers indeed. The lesson to be drawn from these figures is that, as manufacturing remains a vital driver for the economy, Plex continues to play an important role in making this happen. Bottom line as Jerry Foster, VP of Research and Development, said, “Our job is to ensure manufacturers can manufacture more efficiently every day.” It was clear from main stage as well my hallway conversations that Plex remains true to this mantra. They are completely laser focused on how they can partner with their customers to be the best manufacturers possible.

  • The core is solid, but now it is time to improve the edges – The core functionality for Plex is humming along, while Plex certainly is not resting on their laurels, there was discussion around the work Plex has been embarking on with complimentary aspects of their solution. One such area was an emphasis on a new and friendlier user interface, calling it Plex UX. This is not a minor challenge for a company like Plex and the customers they are servicing. Unlike other software providers, the Plex software is truly being leveraged from shop floor to top floor. Plex UX has to be adaptive to a shop floor, which contains many environmental challenges, as well as users who maybe interacting with the software while wearing gloves or other manufacturing gear. At the same time a head of manufacturing, CFO or COO needs to interact with the same software in an office environment. Not a simple design challenge. Look for this to be rolled out in Q4 of this year. The interface is also only as useful as the data and insights that are available, that is where their Plex Insight comes into play. This offering empowers Plex customers to extract the right data from their systems, truly giving a full understanding of data that is being processed. A third new offering is Plex Connect, a platform to connect the vast expanse of data generating parts of the Plex environment. This is most exciting, to this author, when it comes to tying the data being produced from IoT enabled parts of the manufacturing and supply chains. Potentially a real game changer for Plex. In addition to these new offerings, Plex spoke at length of their partnerships with Workday, Demandcaster and Salesforce. Highlighting their focus on bringing together enhanced cloud based offerings to their customer base.
  • Lets get serious about some toys – Apple watch, Google glass, wired clothing, GoGlove and wristband technologies from the likes of Myo and Nymi were all highlighted as areas of continuing focus for Plex. Good. At Constellation Research we are constantly challenging our customers to think about and to be willing to explore areas of digital disruption that can and are impacting their industries. Plex’s continue efforts to explore how they can leverage new technologies and more importantly how they can work with their customers to utilize these new offerings will continue to pay dividends. Plex’s work in the wearables space is of particular interest. For example, they discussed working with clients on connected vests to make the shop floor safer. Environments where heavy machinery, such as forklifts, are constantly in motion, being able to have safety measures such as IoT enabled vests, which can alert drivers of workers on the floor – preventing accidents. The opportunity for Plex is to take some of these learning and offerings and push into areas they currently do not have a presence – think warehousing and even yard management. As IoT, wearables and even drones become more prevalent on shop floors, look for Plex to continue to explore how to make sure these allow companies to manufacture more efficiently.

As I wrote a few months ago after attending the Plex analyst day, the company continues to push towards some lofty heights. Based on the financials the executive team shared with us this growth is being reflected in the numbers, especially impressive is their average annual revenue per customer, which is trending upwards. It is clear that Jason and the executive team are also putting more wood behind the arrow as they are targeting another 100% increase in quota carrying sales executives by end of year. It was also evident in the customer stories from the likes of Accuride, Sanders Fine Chocolates, Fisher & Co, American Axle and Floracraft to name a few.

Of course the road ahead is not without challenges. The company is pushing up stream into larger accounts, which will start putting them head to head with a new batch of formidable competitors. There is also global expansion. While their solutions are being used in over 20 countries, at some point Plex will need to target and close business with manufacturers that are not headquartered in the United States. While they argue there remains plenty of business in the domestic market, for Plex to truly achieve some of the goals they have they will have to target some global geographies.

A good challenge for Jason and his team, one that will determine how far Plex can go. As long as they focus on making “happy ERP customers,” Plex will continue to have success.

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Filed under Manufacturing, Supply Chain

Capgemini continues the journey to becoming the innovation company

Two weeks ago I was on the road again…I know I know…. what a surprise! I can’t complain since I was home, Paris France, where Capgemini was hosting their summer analyst day at their fabulous training center (see picture). While the setting at Les Fontaine captured the tradition and history of France, the discussions with Capgemini were dominated by the theme around innovation and looking forward. How Capgemini is working with leading firms across a variety of industries to infuse innovation into their every day DNA.

Not a bad place for a 2 day meeting.

Not a bad place for a 2 day meeting.

Capgemini is correct in focusing on how the digital revolution we are undergoing, will have a wide and deep impact on industries. While there were a number of examples from all the businesses they work with, the ones that caught my attention were, no surprise, around supply chain.

  • Capgemini and large European retailer discussed their thinking around an important customer centric project. At the base of this project is the need to implement a large and comprehensive CRM system. Speaking with an executive from the retailer, it was evident that they recognize the importance to create a 360-degree view of their customers. The goal being to nurture the customer experience, constantly and continually. The notion of a sequential relationship – customer has a need, customer seeks solution, customer buys product and transaction is consummated – is no longer how the retail/consumer relationship works. The retailer has identified the need to be much savvier when it comes to their consumers’ data. As they work through the technological needs, it was clear in my discussions that they are exploring new and powerful ways of leveraging the information they expect to extract from their CRM solution to better service their customers, which is really about providing an enhanced retailing experience.
  • Speaking with some of the Capgemini executives it was clear that they regard supply chain improvements as holding great opportunity. The thinking focuses on how digital is disrupting the entire supply chain, and the opportunity to target the parts that are “hidden” from the general public. Of course this is music to my ears. A wonderful example of this in action is the work Capgemini is doing with Nokia and their world class supply chain. The Finnish telecom giant has looked to Capgemini to overhaul their production and sourcing processes – to harmonize the supply chain. The work is not simply about buying a new software solution, but rather about identifying the business processes that must change and some that need to be adopted. Not a small task. But the work Capgemini is accomplishing at this level with Nokia could and should lead to more transformative projects within their supply chain – leveraging the digital transformation for future business cases.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) and the impact it has with manufacturing. Digital manufacturing within such areas as the automotive industry was highlighted as well. Speaking with the Capgemini heads of the automotive sector, the discussion revolved around the base line use cases many companies are using IoT for: asset management, predictive maintenance and field enablement. However in my discussions around this topic we began to explore the possibility of new use cases emerging from IoT. Around greater customer experience, enhanced store utilization and new business models between manufacturer and customer. Some of which may never see the light or day, but Capgemini is clearly thinking about disruptive this technology will truly become. More importantly, Capgemini is partnering with their customer base about how to take advantage of IoT.

Following up from my meetings with Capgemini this March in Chicago, the digital disruptive theme continues to be a vital theme to what Capgemini is executing on with their customers. Their ability to continue to help their customers innovate around digital, will determine how successful Capgemini is in becoming a leading services firm in this space. Companies, from all industries, will need these types of partners as their industries become transformed and disrupted by digital changes.

We are all witness to the transformation every day – for example while in Paris with Capgemini we were subject to a strike by an traditional business, taxi drivers, against a digital disruptor Uber. We are all seeing and thinking about how each industry will be impacted by this change, companies like Capgemini are working on a valuable services partner to help navigate the journey.

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Filed under Current Events, IOT, Supply Chain