By: David R. Somers, Senior Industry Analyst
2016 QAD Explore
The 2016 QAD Explore Conference, held during the first week in May in the heart of Chicagoland, was certainly an event to remember. It was memorable both in terms of the stunning changes in process and for the future, as well as the challenges facing companies attempting to adjust, adapt and advance their enterprises within a new age of technological development and shifts in markets.
Karl Lopker, CEO of QAD, expressed his concerns for that future by reflecting upon the past year with a host of challenges we all faced – including oil price flux, the value of the dollar world-wide, the China “slow-down” of their GDP, and both European and domestic social issues affecting corporate manufacturing strategies for the near future.
This Is Now
More specifically, several key developments directly affecting QAD and their Effective Enterprise concept in the form of “disruptive technologies” were not necessarily a negative.
For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) is, in fact, a manifestation of a capability to interface and react to literally all aspects of common life; that connectedness of devices, sensors and machines governing the aspects of our daily lives by the interchange of data parsed, collected, and analyzed to render intelligence decisions affects the operation of even the most mundane of daily activities.
Related to the connectivity is the results of interaction; the data collected from those activities provides a record and the statistical models from which conclusions can be drawn as to how these relationships affect all aspects of manufacturing, from raw material procurement to distribution to the consumer. The fundamentals of ERP governing all aspects in between serves the customer well, providing positive outcomes that enhance productivity and profitability.
QAD Explore is right in the thick of it, as Pam Lopker, President of QAD, gave the audience the current status of the Internet of QAD Things. Businesses are currently committed to 27% of their investments in IoT operations or around $2B but have pledged to expand to 100% or $7B by 2020. Through the use of integrative technologies, developing relevant APIs, the expansion of storage and more sophisticated logic can render a process management tool-set designed to integrate applications without customizations, but rather with configuration and extensibility for ease of use by customers. The use of modularization is the key to delivering a custom fit without the need for software customization. All this evolved towards the generation of better, more productive outcomes.
By focusing on the core business processes of customer care, manufacturing, the supply chain, finance and the base of all operations within a manufacturing and distribution enterprise, that interchange mentioned earlier — of data parsed, collected, and analyzed to render information – is made available across multiple platforms, illustrating all relevant analytics used to govern operations within the evolving ERP environment.
The Santa Cruz effort, the second phase of the QAD Channel Islands initiative, is also focused towards the increased enhancement of the user experience (UX) with not just more appealing and illustrative GUIs, but of developing functions that enable intuitive actions and prompts, allow the freedom to preserve and protect data and associated information, and accommodate upgrades that conform to user configurations while not requiring customizations or specialized bespoke solutions. The demonstration clearly indicated the ease and utility of just such a capability.
Medical Device and Pharmaceutical ERP
In addition to IoT and user experience, there was a specific focus on medical device manufacturers at a roundtable discussion group. The group represented a broad spectrum of participants, from CTO, Finance, IT and Manufacturing. During the session executives discussed how their informational needs were being met, as well as what gaps must be addressed for topics such as security, data integrity, 3-D printing capabilities and how those would change manufacturing, and the range of additional analytics needed to enhance the ERP control.
They also shared mutual concerns and ideas regarding their futures both within their organizations and their partnerships with QAD in developing capabilities that can aid and assist in their businesses.
Those discussions synchronized with the key strategies that Karl Lopker spoke about earlier. The notion that, “every business process working at peak efficiency and perfectly aligned with strategic goals” would serve as the highest level attainable for any organization. Using the QAD methodology of the customer engagement process results in potentially various Q-Scan assessment(s) of feature/benefit in relation to the investment the customer wishes to make.
Another informative “conversation” occurred at the Life-Sciences Insights and Innovation session. The panel included Randy Buckner, the CIO for Exactech, a leading manufacturer of innovative bone and joint restoration products, Bart Reitter, QAD’s Director of Marketing for Life Sciences, and Daniel Matlis, President of Axendia, a Life-Sciences Industry analyst firm. A significant portion of the discussion focused on the need to design “quality” into products by shifting the emphasis from compliance as the ultimate goal. With the incorporation of more quality up front, the compliance would naturally follow and be regarded as less a “fix” and more a “permanent feature” of products.
The “cloud,” while being THE topic at last years’ 2015 Explore in National Harbor, MD, was not the main theme. Although cloud participation went from 16% last year to 30% this year for all attending QAD customers, the message about the importance of cloud usage was reduced. This year, the value of the User Experience in an IoT Connected World took center stage. The “Santa Cruz” phase of the Channel Islands effort clearly illustrated that user experience across multiple platforms was the main theme, along with the “connectedness” of all things relevant to control of production via the IoT. While 2015 was a challenging year, business is getting better. Let’s Explore!