In recent years, we have seen the development of analyst relations flourish as new leaders recognize that the world of media commentary, analysis and consulting in enterprise software has changed. No longer do we have the interminable PowerPoints that only speak to marketing and slideware demos. Today, we get a varied diet and a focus on transparency. Some topics must, of necessity remain under non-disclosure, especially in the area of growth plans and detailed roadmaps but by and large forward thinking vendors understand that the more that goes on the record, the more accurate and complete the picture that can be articulated back out into the world.
Since sessions now are much more interactive than in the past, this forces the vendor to be much crisper and focused in their delivery.
Plex has taken that a couple of steps further than usual with demonstrations of things it is working on which today are experimental but which tomorrow may well be part of the offering. They also did something unique - took us to a live, working factory.
Side note: as someone who has owned factories in the past and run a small brewing operation, I love plant floor visits. This is where the rubber truly hits the road. We were not disappointed.
In this report, I am concentrating on the notable quotes. In my second piece I will talk about wearables and Plex's take on the intelligent use of data.
— Lisa Lincoln (@LLinc_JutrasERP) March 19, 2015
While many tend to think of software as something involving humans, Plex is actively working to take humans out of the plant floor equation. Its customers love this because it means there are fewer things to go wrong and operations can become progressively more efficient while allowing more people to interact with the system. This is validated by Cindy Jutras note that:
Doing things as they should be done - many tend to think of ERP as finance plus HR. In manufacturing ERP, you think differently.
— Matthew Littlefield (@m_littlefield) March 18, 2015
As a side note, this means that some customers buy inventory, even though that may be included in their financial ERP. Why? Manufacturing occurs in real time and manufacturing ERP needs real-time inventory. Accounting for inventory is usually batch based so of no real use in manufacturing.
Referencing the extensive use of machine data inside Plex systems:
— Cindy Jutras (@ERP_cindyjutras) March 18, 2015
I really liked this because for once we have a vendor who is not caught up in the hype surrounding the latest fashionable buzzword but is simply getting on with it in a context that matters to the customer.
The consumer media may well have written off Google Glass but Google hasn't. I will talk about this in my follow up piece but the demo we saw using Glass and other wearables was freakin' awesome.
There was a short moment of hilarity when the company said that it wants to be the first ERP vendor with happy customers. Those with long memories and those who bear the battle scars will know why we laughed at this epithet. But one thing Plex has in spades is happy customers. Proof point? 95% renewal rate. As Frank Scavo, who spends his days poring over RFPs said:
IMO, if you want to hear good ERP implementation stories, Plex customers are a good place to start #PlexSummit
— Frank Scavo (@fscavo) March 18, 2015
The customer we visited was more than happy, talking about the freeing up of space, higher rates of utilization, better planning and simplicity of operation. We saw operators using the Plex system on a continuous process production line for track and trace. As I always say - reality trumps analysis and this was reality as I want to experience it. I will talk about intelligence later but this caught my attention. According to the company and based upon the data it collects:
"We have optics into manufacturing ahead of the economy. We can predict no of employees in US automotive for month end" #plexsummit
— Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett) March 18, 2015
OK - so that gives you a fly by flavor of some of what we saw and heard. But is it all sweetness and light? No. Plex has a long way to go with a deep and extensive roadmap in front of it. But from what I can discern, the company is on a path that will have it turning something in the regions of $140-150 million in revenue both in discrete and process manufacturing segments in the 2016 timeframe. At that level, it cannot be ignored.
Look forward to Brian Sommer's analysis of this company and how he sees it going forward.
Disclosure: Plex is a premier partner at time of writing and covered my T&E
Images via Plex