This was TAKE's 3rd annual user conference and the first held outside of the direct New Jersey area where the company is headquartered in Princeton. Even with the change in venue the company had strong attendance numbers with approximately 80 attendees, and customers coming from India, and also Saudi Arabia – an area where TAKE is finding new opportunities in the life sciences industry. TAKE focuses its solutions on both the life sciences and supply chain industries specifically.
TAKE Solutions customer conference held June 2012 in Orlando, FL focused on disruptive technologies and how those can transform your business. The keynote speaker - theoretical physics professor, Dr. Michio Kaku - fittingly kicked off the event and had us all thinking about how technology through the year 2100 will most definitely disrupt and transform our lives. This ranged the gamut from building human organs to being able to translate languages on the fly through glasses we'll all be wearing in the future.
This certainly got everyone talking and thinking about how technology can change the way organizations and people do business, although not always easy to grasp. Day one of the general session took more of a pragmatic view of things with a panel led by IDC analysts Alan Louie, Research Director for Clinical Development, Strategy, and Technology and Eric Newmark, Program Director for Business Systems Strategies. Alan and Eric were accompanied by Ann Grackin, CEO of ChainLink Research, and all three commented on the momentum the four pillars of mobility, cloud, social business, and big data are having on the life sciences and supply chain industries in particular. Social business, for example, is one area where life sciences companies (and manufacturers that play in the life sciences space) are slower to adapt due to FDA regulations. Any adverse event that is recorded or found through a consumer giving information back through a two-way form of media communication (twitter, facebook, etc.) has to be recorded and noted - particularly if it has to do with a side effect of a drug or other similar event. This would obviously cause those manufacturers to shy away from using these types of technologies. However, there are also advantages to using social media to better understand the customer's needs - if it didn't have such a direct impact with regulatory standards.
Although the forthcoming IDC Manufacturing Insights supply chain survey report does not include pharmaceutical respondents specifically, the broader responses from manufacturers certainly suggests that interest in the four new technology pillars is strong.
Supply Chain Solutions Roadmap
Day 2 TAKE set the stage for its two key products in the supply chain area - where the company takes a broader view outside of just the life sciences industry:
- The supply chain collaboration suite - branded as OneSCM® - with releases for Oracle-based systems in late July and non-Oracle/SAP-based systems (including SaaS/cloud options) in November
- The Gemini® Series Enterprise Mobility & WMS - r12 release for September 2012, serialization track and trace for November 2012, and high availability for February 2013
Focus on OneSCM®
During the breakouts I focused on the supply chain track and the roadmap for the supply chain collaboration suite. The general vision for OneSCM® is a strong one - TAKE is looking to extend the existing ERP system of manufacturing clients and help with:
- Forecast visibility - replacing spreadsheets and manual emails
- Provide more accurate supplier commitments and leads times via a supplier portal
- Improve overall customer service levels
- In the future the system is looking to integrate with SharePoint (2013) to act as a master data management collection warehouse
Listening to key manufacturers, such as Baker Hughes and Applied Materials, that are using these products throughout their supply chain with their suppliers it was impressive how collaboration with suppliers improved, inventory levels decreased, PO accuracy increased, and both internal (employee) and external (customers) satisfaction increased. One manufacturer of medical devices before implementing TAKE wasn't able to track devices or inventory and getting the right parts to the right customers was an issue - with typically 3 failures per 1000 customers. It currently measures about 1 failure per 5000 - a definite improvement.
TAKE has a solid solution and it knows manufacturing in the life sciences industry. Its background actually reaches as far back to 1994 when the company was known as BPA systems and the main solution was extending ERP systems from the warehouse floor out to suppliers for a number of manufacturing industries including aerospace, high tech, and CPG. Today, however, I think the company has carved out a niche for itself in the life sciences area and has some growing to do again as it moves to become a supply chain provider in general across all areas of manufacturing. Luckily, TAKE is not shy to put the right people with the right expertise in the right positions.
Further, TAKE's products do require cooperation and buy in from the suppliers to work. The customers I spoke with all mentioned that once you show the suppliers the benefits they jump on board but I'm not sure it's quite so easy. And managing some suppliers via the portal versus EDI, etc. may prove challenging in the beginning. One customer also noted having to give up control of some information and allowing the supplier to be in charge of uploading data (without an audit run on it) to the manufacturer's back end ERP system. This might seem like to big a leap of faith for some but it works for them and the end results are apparently worth it.