Q Event Briefs
Q Event brief - Power Plex 2017
Since its inception, Plex is one of the few (if not the only) vendor that created cloud ERP for manufacturing.
In contrast, other cloud ERP vendors started with functionality for services or back office and later added manufacturing modules.
Other vendors that sell ERP for manufacturing cloud products are the result of more or less successful conversions of on premises solutions to cloud versions of the same system.
While Plex extended its offering to include functionality for customer and sales management or HR, their focus is still on production management, planning and scheduling, or quality management.
Since all manufacturers need reliable suppliers, Plex also focuses on supply chain and demand management functionality, recently demonstrated by the acquisition of DemandCaster (a cloud based supply chain planning software provider).
Finally, Plex invests a lot in analytics specific for manufacturing companies. They recently launched the IntelliPlex Production Analytic Application, which is is part of Plex’s IntelliPlex Analytic Application Suite.
The IntelliPlex Analytic Application Suite also includes applications for sales, order management, finance and procurement (with supply chain and HCM coming in 2017).
Customer centric (really)
It was very obvious that the customers were at the centre of the PowerPlex event: attendees had the opportunity to visit a few Plex customers, and companies that implemented Plex were invited to speak during keynotes and sessions. A few stations where we could watch videos about Plex customers and admire the products made using Plex (from beer, to metal racks and car parts) were also on display.
The most interesting customer story was a two tier ERP implementation of Workday (for finance and HR) and Plex (for manufacturing). This may be the future of ERP since the traditional strategy vendors adopted to try to create the perfect ERP obviously did not work. SMBs (or subsidiaries or large companies) cannot afford to invest in ERP that is too complicated and expensive to implement and maintain. Since they can’t always find a solution that provides everything they need, a two tier implementation is the best compromise.
Less buzzwords, more focus on what matters
During the keynote and the sessions the focus has been on current challenges and how existing technology can solve them. An example is the Internet of Things, which will surely have an impact on manufacturing, especially for advanced technology which needs to be continuously monitored and serviced for optimal use.
That being said, I attended a great session where the speaker showed us how little we know about IoT, which should be a barrier to adoption. When we’re talking about complex equipment that can have a big impact on product quality or worker safety, we cannot afford to adopt technology that we don’t understand. IoT is way too important to be adopted as an experiment. It is important to first understand which business areas will benefit most from IoT and how, and only then explore how to take advantage of it in a manner that’s beneficial for both your company and your customers.
First of all, DemandCaster will be improved to provide predictive demand forecasting and to include IoT data in the analysis. The next planned step is to use machine learning in order to make DemandCaster even more accurate and efficient.
While Plex provides functionality for back office and CRM, they prefer to allow customers the flexibility to choose other alternatives. Instead of trying to compete on functionality that is not their forte, they prefer to provide options for integration. Hence they are planning to collaborate with middleware providers like Dell Boomi to better integrate with other enterprise software solutions.
In short, Plex will continue to focus on manufacturing, improve its supply chain and demand management functionality, enhance its analytics offering, and provide flexible ways for integration with other solutions (ERP, CRM, HCM, etc.)