A modern day Rip Van Winkle would be surprised to wake up today and learn that HighJump is now known as Körber Supply Chain Software. But a twenty-year nap wouldn’t be necessary to fall behind on the company’s progress. In fact, a three-year cat nap would be long enough to fall out of touch with its rapid evolution. But I get the impression that the recent investment in Körber Supply Chain by KKR is likely to accelerate the company’s expansion. Why do I say this? Well, the press release states, “We look forward to the strategic partnership with Körber and to leveraging our experience of growth acceleration with global software businesses.” The first day of Elevate, Körber Supply Chain’s user conference, provided some indication of what may occur in the very near future.
WMS and Much More
As an analyst focused on warehouse technologies, I tend to be biased about the criticality of what our colleagues in Europe call “intralogistics.” But I think it is fair to say that warhousing is a hub of Körber Supply Chain’s solution set. The Körber warehouse offering is comprehensive. It started with inconso, and quicky expanded with HighJump, Centriq (voice), Cohesio Group (warehouse robotics implementations), and warehouse facility simulation and design. At the same time, the company expanded its geographic reach by adding an established presence to Asia and Latin America. At this point, its fair to say Körber Supply Chain is truly global with customers in 70 countries.
But changes in the near future could overshadow those of the recent past. The company’s vision for the future is much broader than the warehouse and is poised to greatly expand the solution footprint.
What’s in-store for 2022?
Sean Elliott, Korber’s Chief Technology Officer, reviewed the major product development achievements of 2021 and then discussed the three major focus areas for 2022. Delivered in 2021 were the first microservices as well as the API Designer platform for developing microservices. Korber also invested in its CLASS simulation and modeling tool and focused on modeling autonomous mobile robotic solutions and enabling customers to review their simulations in virtual reality.
The three major focus areas for 2022 are 1) investments in assisting Korber customers’ journey to SaaS, 2) bringing a new product, named Universal Control System (UCS) to market, and 3) offering warehouse modeling for operations.
Korber plans to finalize its next generation suite of low-code and no-code authoring tools; complete the platform’s journey to microservices and cloud native platforms; and begin taking WMS on the same journey. Of greatest interest to me is Korber’s plan to bring to market its Unified Control System (UCS). This solution will be developed to assist businesses in elevating their operations by enabling manual workforces to work more effectively in automated and robotic environments. The system will “unify the management, orchestration, and optimization of warehouse tasks and activities for RF or voice enabled workers, traditional automation equipment, and robotic solutions,” as stated by Sean Elliott. A first release is scheduled for mid-2022. The third focus area is extending warehouse modeling to operations. The CLASS modeling solution will be enhanced to allow users to connect daily operations to the plans and designs they evaluate in the system. By integrating real-time data from WMS, it will allow users to leverage CLASS for real-time visibility into operational status, evaluate plan versus actual, and take corrective action.
2022 and Beyond
We don’t know exactly what influence the new ownership structure (the addition of KKR) will have on Korber’s future. However, Chad Collins, Korber’s CEO, noted a couple areas of interest. During his keynote address he stated, “We’ve heard your need for more digital solutions spanning transportation management, order management, supply chain management, and deeper enablement of technologies like AI. With the support and experience of our owners Korber and KKR, we will make this a reality, and rapidly.”
I personally took notice of the final word ”rapidly.”