The 2016 Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) Customer Conference, held on the 8 - 9 June 2016, was rich and diverse in content, coupled with topic-specific break-out sessions. It marked the KCS Group’s 40th anniversary since formation. Conference presentations reviewed new software and service developments; reviewing hot topics in the ever-changing business solutions arena.
From how to make the most of latest technologies to maximising the use of system tools, the conference ensured there were stimulating ideas and actions to take away. With delegates from across the user spectrum, there were also valuable networking opportunities.
Moving systems forward
Referring to how far technologies have moved on, the primary message from CEO Ian Bendelow was the importance, benefits and value of keeping systems moving forward. Ian gave an insight into the extensive R&D programme and spoke about initiatives to make upgrade and migration processes easier and smoother. Delivering high quality support services to match user requirements remains a key priority, and although taking care of older system releases is likely to become more challenging, the resolve to support legacy software will continue to be sustained.
Delegates were able to take advantage of a conference stream specific to K8 Manufacturing and K8 Field Service solutions. Pre-Sales Consultant, Dave Cann, focussed on the recently released Version 13 - more user-definable options being a common theme. “Customer input was a key element in preparing this latest release. Version 13 has a new user-definable quick menu with drag and drop, an intelligent spell checker and a favourites option with ‘where you have been’ history. Another important introduction is a user-definable field capability for added flexibility. Although some changes, such as colour-coded identification and printer task specifics might seem a little basic, they make a real, beneficial difference.” Dave told delegates that manufacturers can now produce rental agreements direct from the system. The Field Service modules have also been given a boost, with new functionality and new customer metrics. Version 13 also has a new customisable label production tool.
This year’s customer experience presentations featured Arlington Automotive and WhitChem. Garry Luke, Systems Engineer, Arlington Automotive, focussed on standard costing data – encompassing management dashboards, analysis and data extraction. He also talked about his company’s use of K8 Manufacturing Asset Management.
WhitChem Finance Director, Charles Hawley, presented his company’s background and how they use K8 Manufacturing today. Referring to purchasing, stock, sales and financial applications, he outlined future plans including mobile accessibility, sales visit logging, business intelligence, bar-coding and asset management.
One of the most notable recent initiatives has been the launch of the Customer Advisory Board (CAB). Proving beneficial with customers, the CAB programme is working well. CAB meetings, attended by small groups of customers, help to steer future product and service developments. General Manager, Andy Gough, said: “The common thread with the CAB is developing functionality that meets customers’ specific requirements. A recent session which considered online mobile sales applications, confirmed the developments for a multi-platform sales portal. The CAB set out key features and supporting functionality for the portal.”
Keeping your business secure
The stark truth is that 20% of SMEs are likely to experience a major IT outage in a five year period. And of those that do, 40% are likely to fail as a result. Account Manager, Barry Thompson reminded delegates that the risks cannot be ignored. “Businesses need to have disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place; it is as simple as that. Whether you opt for a cold ‘standby’ position, or an infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) platform, recovery time is key. The focus of today’s Business Continuity Plans are very much around preventing IT failures and disruption, rather than recovering from them. We will be pleased to talk further about industry best practice and how to improve your system security; before you have to.”
Industry 4.0 – the future of manufacturing
Wrapping up the sessions, Andy Gough and Dave Cann briefed delegates on the significance of Industry 4.0 - the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. Set to transform manufacturing, Gartner estimates that by 2020, more than 26 million devices will be able to communicate via the internet, this presents significant business opportunities. “The combination of big data, the ‘Internet of Things’ and communication infrastructure is driving things forward. Devices in vehicles and buildings with sensors and embedded software will generate input. Outputs such as patterns, trends and customer preferences will result in more effective marketing, new opportunities, better customer services and improved efficiencies. We will see ‘Smart’ factories, machine to machine to ERP software communications on a scale almost unimaginable today. Pure and simple, we consider that it is our mission and responsibility to help you make the most of Industry 4.0 in your business. Exciting times are ahead for us all,” said Andy.
Guest speaker talks technology, power and education
Conference guest speaker, Richard Noble OBE, took the theme of ground-breaking technology and engineering and gave it a supersonic thrust; quite literally. From the early days of land speed record breaking, Richard told the story of BloodhoundSSC – the challenge to build a 1,000mph, rocket-powered car. Significantly, he talked about the project’s parallel mission to drive science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education. We are in a very different business, but innovation and creativity have also been at the core of the KCS Group from the start. The conference reinforced our intention to continue on that basis; setting new standards in business IT solutions.
40 years of innovation - a trip down memory lane
This year our annual Customer Conference was that extra bit special as we celebrated the KCS Group's 40th anniversary; it was great for the KCS team to share the occasion with customers and business partners.
Our Customer Conference continues to be a success and it wouldn’t be made possible without our customers and business partners. Customer Steve Brooke, Director at Anglo Stainless said “I enjoyed the Customer Conference and found the content useful. It really helped me to challenge the way we do things and look to develop our use of K8 Manufacturing into further areas of my business. Networking with other users and comparing this to what we do is really helpful and leads to further efficiency gains within the business. I look forward to next year!”