The days of three-day software user conferences complete with over-the-top evening entertainment and plenty of swag are over. Nowadays, software companies, like their customers, are looking to do more with less and do it more efficiently.
JDA Software's annual Focus Conference is a case in point. The demand chain software provider scaled this year's conference back from three days to two, and introduced a host of virtual sessions to supplement its live presentations. Instead of trumpeting new solutions or innovations, Chief Operating Officer Chris Koziol talked about the company's efforts to make its tools more user-friendly and ways in which customers were using existing solutions to control costs and increase productivity.
It's the smaller projects with a guaranteed return on investment that are getting the green light in boardrooms across the continent. "Gone are the days of the monolithic project," said Koziol. "We don't have the time and resources to wait for the promises of the monolithic project anymore."
Indeed, customer presentations at the conference focused, for the most part, on operational efficiencies gained from implementing tried-and-true ideas—like Hershey's successful continuous moves program, Heinz's initiative to manage and balance inventories, and Mars's use of sales and operations planning to react more swiftly to changes in demand. None of these concepts are new, but they have all helped the user companies weather the economic storm.