Joshila Makan (CEO) reflects on the continuing journey in 2015 and targets for the year ahead…
This time last year I commented on how 2015 was set to be such a critical time for the industry and a fabulous period of opportunity for both WCS and our customers. It has certainly been just that. Retailers have faced huge pressure over the last 3 years and once again our supply chain is being challenged by your customers who need to order what they want, when they want, and to wherever they want via a variety of channels. We know that warehouse management systems (WMS) need to be adaptable to meet today’s omni-channel requirements, and there is no doubt that technology has changed the way that businesses manage their supply chains. Whilst challenging, the fast paced demands of the digital age presents us with a unique opportunity to optimise warehouse efficiencies in order to ultimately provide a superior customer experience. I cannot now possibly envisage any business surviving long term without it and still remain competitive and stay ahead of their game.
With the right technology in place, businesses have the ability to boost communication, improve transparencies and drive down costs of their distribution network, with one overriding goal – to providing overall efficiency: And that’s exactly we are doing here at WCS. With this in mind, I am proud to reflect on another fantastic year headlined by the official launch of our 3rd generation management solution, CSnx, following successful trials back in 2014.
Before we assess this year’s successes, it is vital that we establish how this has become possible. The 2014 User Group Conference held in Chicago was a huge turning point for the business, and a catalyst for our customers’ future.
Typically, any change involves some degree of risk, and migrating from old technology to new (regardless of the fundamental need to do so) is no different, at least in the minds of many if not in physical practice. The 2014 conference enabled us to establish a clear understanding of our customers’ needs and how these would affect any decisions to move to the next generation offering, so that we could progress our offering and settle any nerves along the way.
We are grateful that our established customers invested in such a process of discovery which included an independent market review to evaluate 8 competitors against CSnx. It has truly helped to ascertain and prove to what extent CSnx would need to match existing functionality, alongside any perceived risks, from a functional and cost perspective, a timeline for such a transition to take place, and most importantly that our offering would stack up against the existing market.
Whilst the security of continuing to work within such a strong vendor relationship alongside a company of heritage and reputation is something our customers have always undoubtedly valued, the overall findings found CSnx to not only meet the current and future technological and functional needs of our customers, but also to be the most cost effective and most risk averse option too.
At this year’s 2015 Conference held this time in Dublin we were able to formally present a next generation offering that provides the agility of the open architecture and enables businesses in their own right to meet both the current and future demands of the market. As our customers shared their feedback, we were thrilled to receive unanimous positive feedback across the board to support the upgrade. A true testament to both the hard work within our company over the previous 12 months and a huge justification of our ethos of working with our customers.
Consequently, we close 2015 securing commitment to upgrades from existing clients, and are delighted to welcome interest from new customers also. 2016 will be a year focused on delivery as we work toward the next user group conference which we will be held in South Africa in 2017.
Based on this process we will be continuing to engage with key analysts, industry leaders and experts through our new thought leadership programme to constantly benchmark our offering and chart how we are meeting today’s challenges with regard to the the effects of omni-channel, dark store and BYOD on our supply chain. Part of this programme will be investing in bringing retailers together globally to share and learn from each other. Already Musgrave’s Luke Hanlon has visited the Bozzuto’s executive team in Hartford to work together on current challenges experienced and sharing best practices.
Many of you will have noticed WCS featuring in a number of top publications this year as we begin to push out into the market and engage with industry leaders, and continue to position the business as a strong WMS player. Such activity led to being invited to speak at the NAW Large Companies Roundtable in Chicago, a Fortune 100 event event resulting in working with Musgrave to produce the case study paper on ‘Choosing the Right Technology for your Warehouse’, focusing on achieving maximum return on investment through integrating smart glass, automation, voice picking and more. Additional papers have included on how CSnx meets the the ever-growing dark store model – giving further insight to the industry on how WCS is actively future-proofing for our customers’ requirements.
This type of activity will continue to be a feature throughout 2016, and I am delighted once again to announce that WCS has been shortlisted in the CIO Review 100 most promising IBM solution providers on the back on this investment and innovation.
As I mentioned already, the underlying success this year has been the support of our existing clients taking on board the upgrade to CSnx by endorsing a functionally rich application and which is built for the future which is either equal or superior to our competitors. Working very closely with our customers and building strong relationships is allowing us to be innovative and provide technological advancement to keep retailers ahead of the game.
Practicing what we preach is at heart of everything we do at WCS, and again we have invested in people by bringing in new skills and talent to strengthen our expertise, delivery and support teams, in order to facilitate this. At every level in the business we have ensured that we are embracing the best in class approach – efforts all taken with a clear focus of keeping you, our customers, ahead of the game.
On a personal level I would like to take the opportunity to thank my team for their efforts and staying so focused to our vision and goals, and equally to thank all of our customers, partners and shareholders for your belief and commitment over the past year.
My very best wishes for a wonderful festive season and a happy prosperous new year to you all.
To talk to us about how WCS can take your supply chain systems into the next generation, contact us now and we’ll get back to you to arrange an appointment.