15 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Get yourself Konnected

Since 2019, MAM Software, the company behind the Autowork Online GMS, has been under the Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) umbrella, joining a host of companies worldwide that provide automated systems to businesses across the distribution, automotive and retail spheres.
To keep in touch with their clients, and to discuss new products and systems it is launching, the company holds a number of Konnect Customer Conferences around the globe. Other recent events took place in South Africa and Ireland. On 2 March, the company held its fifth and largest ever UK event in Stratford-upon-Avon, with 300 delegates drawn from across the UK customer base.

Digitisation, profitability and sustainability
With the entire UK management team on-hand, plus many members of the rest of the organisation, the event was kicked off via an opening address from James Mitchell, Managing Director (Distribution and Automotive), UK & Ireland, Kerridge Commercial Systems said: “We are doing these events to keep a continuity in our world. We have grown through organic growth and merger and acquisition. We are close to 1,200 people now. At the end of the day we are an R&D organisation. We do this in-house. We have six different offices in the UK and Ireland. We have different skill sets in each office through mergers and acquisitions.”
He continued, covering the theme for the two-day event: “In the dark days of COVID -19, there was a great conference online about sustainability. The speaker was Lord Denham. He produced a phrase that really resonated with us: ’Sustainability and profitability go hand in hand.’ We took that one step further and we believe digitisation, sustainability and profitability go hand in hand. We have been digitising businesses for years. It is not just about freeing up resources; It is really to make a business more efficient and more profitable. Our biggest bang for our buck is taking 31,000 customers globally and giving them the option to go paperless. Small changes make a big difference. It is a big elephant to eat, but we have to do our bit. IT has a very large part to play in that.”
James added: “Digitisation is not scary. We are accelerating quite fast now. We have to think about profitability and sustainability in the same way. We feel we are in the middle to help you with this.”

Cloud and cybersecurity
Next on was Neil Abraham, Director of Cloud and IT Operations, who went on to discuss the benefits of moving on from running an on-premises server to using the cloud. K-Cloud, the cloud-based services delivered by KCS, currently serves 7,000 customers worldwide. On the environmental benefits, he noted: “We are taking hundreds of servers and putting them on less servers, in data centres.”
He was followed by Martin Turbitt, Chief Information Security Officer, who covered cybersecurity: “The market around cybersecurity is worth £200m, and there are lots of threats. How do you go about dealing with it? It is all about risk, understanding the risk profile, and building up. It comes down to risk management. Ultimately, my job is to reduce the risks within the business. 40% of the threats out there are from supply chain attacks.”

Insights and support
Looking at their products and where it will take their customers, President of R&D David Liddle said: “A lot has happened in the last 3-4 years, since we last held an event like this. Since lockdown, we have learned a lot about how we work with you, and how we build our software. We are growing around 12% organically, which is the people we take on via acquisitions.”  Looking at the automotive side, he discussed how affordable handheld devices have become: “You can pick up an Android device for £100, as opposed to £2,000 for a ruggedised device. He was then joined on stage by Coenette Bosman, Global Product and Delivery Director, who discussed the company’s approach to research and development investment.
Moving onto customer support, Chief Support Officer Chris Owen was next up, and declared: “We are here to help you – we are the problem solvers.”  He then brought on Martin Searle, Service Delivery Director, who talked about growing the team, which has seen a 7% increase in the last 12 months. He explained the learning pathway for those who join, taking in faster onboarding, specialist training and continuous knowledge growth. Ken Hughes, Service Delivery Director, then talked about the investment in tooling being made to enhance service levels. James Maggs, Global Customer Success Director, then covered the process from the customer’s perspective: “Customer-centric processes mean different things. Some examples of what we do include a standard customer onboarding process, understanding our customer health, complete 360° view of our customer, customer retention and value.” He added: “In customer success, we are looking at the customer as a whole.”
Following that Jason Bradshaw and Harry Eride from Phocas Software explained how they help businesses with operational and financial analysis, financial management reporting, and Budgeting and Forecasting process. Jason observed: “Phocas help you be pro-active instead of reactive in the business.” Over 250 KCS customers using Phocas, which is integrated into many systems including MAM Autopart. “Phocas is a tool for the everyday user” Jason added.
Filum Ho, CEO at Apollo came on next to cover robotic process automation (RPA), and how this can help businesses: “RPA is the use of computer software for repetitive tasks. It takes the stuff you guys are doing every single day, and automates it. It is computer coded, replaces humans and is cross-functional, but is not walking talking robots, machines or AI or voice recognition and reply software.  It is super important you guys embrace it if you want to drive efficiency in your business. It is the fastest growing part of enterprise software. If you don’t use it, your organisation will be the poorer for it. Automation is a technology megatrend. If a human can do it, it has uniform inputs, automation can do it.”

Mental toughness
The keynote speaker for the afternoon was TV presenter and former rally driver Penny Mallory, who was there to discuss mental toughness: “It is something that is relevant to every single one of us. The weird tough times are not over yet, don’t think things are going to get easier any time soon.” The difference between those who succeed and those who fail is that they have developed their mental toughness.”
The event then closed with an update on the Konnect Online Integration Platform, led by David Liddle and Coenette Bosman, who returned to the stage. David added: “We are in the process of developing an integration platform to create a collection of reusable services that can be used as the building blocks for future as well as existing applications.”