Reflexis held its annual user group conference at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas from September 15 to 17, 2014. Over 165 people from 50 retailers attended the three-day event named Reflexions to share case studies and best practices, and learn about the latest product innovations from the vendor.
For the first time attendee like me, Reflexions was a bit like drinking from a fire hose. There was a lot of information coming from the dozens of general and breakout sessions and it was hard to get your arms around it. So, let me distill what I learned at Reflexions into three takeaways.
1. Capital Impact
In January, Reflexis announced it had taken an investment from Sageview Capital to drive product innovation, expand sales and marketing, and fill key leadership roles. Nine months later, this investment has borne fruit on multiple dimensions.
Brett Friedman has been hired as Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing. Friedman is an industry veteran, having spent time with Infor, Allegro, SAP and i2 Technologies. Since joining, Friedman has expanded sales and marketing staff in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Debbyn Milligan has been hired as Senior Vice President of Strategy. Milligan is former-Reflexis client having come from The Home Depot. Milligan’s first priorities will be to help Reflexis penetrate new industries outside of retail, a goal of outlined by Sageview’s Jeff Klemens and reinforced by several of the Reflexis executives that I spoke with.
The executive hires round out the management team and allow others to focus their time and effort in other ways. A good example of this is co-founder Murtaza Ghadyali. Like many founders, Murty has been a jack-of-all trades and most recently has been leading the sales team. With these new executive hires, Murty can focus on the product roadmap and his passion for making sure that Reflexis’ products are solving retailers’ problems.
But what about product innovation? See my next point.
2. Real time, Right Now
The conference’s theme this year was “Real-time retail – Are you ready?” This is a reference to Reflexis’ real-time execution engine called StorePulse. Reflexis released StorePulse at NRF in 2013. I’ve been watching this product for a while and included updates on StorePulse as part of my NRF wrap-ups in 2013 and 2014 as it is an innovative and unique solution in the market.
At a high level, StorePulse takes is real-time data sources and applies business rules to turn the data into proposed action. The action is presented on a feed (think of it like your newsfeed on Facebook or LinkedIn) accessible my managers and associates via tablets, mobile phones or computers. For example, you could plug your customer analytics into StorePulse and when the system sees people dwelling around a certain area without assistance. By interpreting this data, StorePulse prompt associates in a nearby department to attend to the customers that need help.
At the conference, Reflexis debuted an interconnect module that allows StorePulse to leverage IBM’s Watson to analyze massive amounts of unstructured, external data. This allows StorePulse to leverage news, social media, traffic (as in auto, not customer) and other feeds as a source of action in the store. Reflexis and IBM were demonstrating this capability in the exhibit hall and garnered tremendous interest from Reflexis’ retail customers.
Keep an eye out for a future blog post from me that takes a closer look at StorePulse and its integration with Watson.
3. Customer Appreciation
While product improvements and Sageview’s investment drew a lot of attention, Reflexions really is a user conference and Reflexis’ customers are the stars of the show. Customers such as AutoZone, Barnes & Noble, Belk, Stage Stores and Vera Bradley presented during breakout sessions while CVS Health and McDonald’s were featured keynote speakers.
CVS Health recently completed a rollout of Reflexis Workforce Scheduler to all 7,700 stores. The project at CVS Health started several years ago to replace their handwritten schedules. According to Director of Store Operations Paul Handley, CVS Health selected Reflexis because it could handle the complexities of both their pharmacy and their front store.
McDonald’s has deployed Reflexis Workforce Scheduler and Self-Service to all 1,200 UK stores. This was part of a major upgrade of their 17 people-related systems internally branded as PeopleStuff. Prior to Reflexis, McDonald’s Director of Training, Education and Customer Service Jack Upton explained that managers spent time working around – rather than working with – legacy scheduling systems. Since implementing Reflexis, 90 percent of McDonald’s employees are happy with their schedule. The company has achieved 91 percent of their ROI and expects the system to pay for itself within the first year.
A theme stressed by both CVS Health and McDonald’s and echoed by all the presenters was the importance of change management. Almost every company describe their change management program. While there were several similarities, it was interesting to hear the creative ways retailers tailored their programs to best connect with their stores’ unique culture.
A few examples: CVS Health provides bi-weekly newsletters, even after deployment, to provide tips and tricks and tackle common problems users may be running into. McDonald’s provided users with videos in which managers and crew members were talking about the benefits of Reflexis. Vera Bradley used testimony from managers in the pilot stores to help with change management as rolled out to its 126 stores.
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Reflexis has always been known for their task management product. Now, the company has real momentum with its workforce management and real-time execution engine. I look forward to attending Reflexions 2015 to see how Sageview’s investment will drive additional product innovation and industry expansion over the next 12 months.