Two day conference provided great insights to KCS Customers
The 2015 Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) Customer Conference provided delegates with a diverse and stimulating programme covering the latest in the company’s software solutions and more. With briefings and presentations on a range of the latest products and service initiatives, the conference focussed on how KCS customers could add value to their businesses using IT, both strategically and tactically. The company’s technology partners were well represented in the partners’ lounge with the opportunity to meet Cognito, GenerateUK Digital Marketing, Interoute, The Logic Group, OCSL, Oracle and PHD Mail.
The highlight of the conference - a two day event for the first time, was the introduction of the latest K8 release – named K8 Babbage. Delegates also learned more about Web Builder – the company’s integrated electronic trading application.
Some significant developments in the company’s support and training provisions were announced.
In particular, COO Alan Cross said that his team will be focussing more on reducing the need for customers to make support calls. “We are confident that by working together, a combination of training and extending knowledge, our customers will not only be able to gain more value from their systems but also make fewer support calls”.
Mike Beech, Product Marketing Director, brought delegates up to date with the work of the Customer Advisory Board. Introduced in 2014, the CAB has already proved to be a valuable resource in delivering ideas and specific user requirements into the product development cycle.
The first day’s opening session also included a review of the technologies that support KCS’s cloud and hosting services. A growth area for the business with an increasing number of customers making the switch away from on premise servers. Being able to more focus on the business – means less time spent on system management.
Ready for the future
Tom Richardson, Product Manager, introduced K8 Babbage to the conference. Continuing K8’s progressive and evolutionary path, this latest version has been enhanced in several key areas. Consolidating a number of previous releases, over 180 enhancements have been made in a programme that has involved over 1,800 QA tests and checks. Notable changes include browser client functionality – enabling specific enquiry functions to be accessed via any device on the move. An improved hire management application has been introduced, together with superior graph and charting capabilities, and additional facilities to handle returns and tools to streamline user management. An integral part of the Babbage programme, KCS has introduced a number of tools to help customers upgrade to this latest release – notably from K8.07 and K8.09 platforms.
Automotive parts distributor FPS (fpsdistribution.com), a KCS customer since the early 1990’s, implemented K8 Babbage in February and became the first customer to go live on the release. Jonathan Eden, Head of Business Systems at FPS, presented the upgrade experience: how the project was initiated, the rationale behind it and the process through to go live which involved 380 users across 20 branches. In a break-out session on day two, Jonathan and the KCS FPS project manager, explained the process in detail and how teams from both companies delivered a successful project.
Continuing the customer experience theme, now a regular conference feature, Stuart Baker, Training and Implementation Manager for SIG, talked about the implementation of K8 as a new user. Focussing on the K8 Delivery Management applications, Stuart explained how installing K8 needs to be a change management exercise. He referred to the importance of taking people on the journey, appreciating the impact of the process and system has on all stakeholders. Guest speaker for the evening reception and dinner was best-selling author, presenter and business guru Geoff Burch. Entertaining and thought-provoking, Geoff delivered an informed perspective on topics drawn from his considerable international experience, with a focus on customer service and managing the overall customer experience.
Engaging Breakout Sessions
Day two of the conference comprised a programme of break-out sessions which ensured that the event truly had something for everyone. There was more detail about K8 Babbage – including the financial suite. Delegates could also take on-board the latest K8 developments in reporting, data warehousing, business intelligence, rebates and special pricing facilities. Web Builder, the integrated ecommerce application, was covered by Lawsons’ (lawsons.co.uk) own implementation experience and a technical overview by KCS specialists. A meet the ‘K8 Experts’ group, representing all key areas of the system, was on hand to talk about any specific issues or concerns on a one-to-one basis. A series of sessions, delivered by KCS partners, briefed delegates on WAN solutions, SEO, ecommerce, mobile proof of delivery and EFT systems.
The conference also embraced the needs of customers from the manufacturing and field engineering sectors. The K8 Enterprise solution, which is used in a wide range of diverse industries, featured in a series of sessions focussing on business intelligence, call logging and its field service mobile app. Customer experiences covered shop floor data capture, workflow management, dashboard facilities and ecommerce functionality.
Summing up, CEO Ian Bendelow said, “Our annual customer conference has become a flagship event in our calendar. Each year, we strive to make the event as beneficial as we possibly can, not only for our customers, but also our technology partners who play a key role in meeting our customers’ ever-changing requirements. Much more than an opportunity to share how we are investing in products and services for the future, bringing everyone together also creates a stimulating environment. Open discussion leads to ideas being generated which is exciting and rewarding for everyone.”