Khaos Control Conference 2017
The resplendent Stoke Rochford Hall, south of Grantham and off the A1, is a building with history. The Romans occupied the site 2,000 years ago, then aristocratic families – including the Rochfords – up to the 19th century and the War Office in the 20th. Today, in the 21st, it was the perfect venue for our very first Khaos Control Conference or ‘Khaos Con’.
The thinking behind Khaos Con was simple – we interact with customers all the time, but often at a distance. And often in response, or reaction to, a Support ticket or Development request. When do Khaos customers interact with other Khaos customers? Almost never. So, we wanted to get proactive, get people out their offices to:
- Hear where Khaos Control Solutions is headed
- See our fantastic new solution, Khaos Control Hybrid, in action
- Listen about Khaos Control working at Bray Solutions
- Get the latest on organisational changes we’ve made
- Excel at marketing with guest speaker Chloë Thomas’ advice
- Understand GPDR’s implications
- Witness new functionality
- And network, allowing all the small conversations that have big consequences, from new ideas to sharing fixes
So, for those of you that couldn’t make it and want to know what you missed, and for those of you that did make it and wanted to recap, here’s a refresher.
First, where we’re headed. These are exciting times for us. As a company, we’re the largest we’ve ever been, if not in floorspace (where we’re knocking through into a new unit), then in staff. Combined with technically brilliant products, we’re facing the 2020s with confidence. This is quite a way from the bedroom in which Khaos Control was first coded, the bathroom in which our first server was stored and the gym with full length mirrors that passed for our first office. We wouldn’t have got here without our customers – their growth, powered by their hard work, ingenuity and Khaos Control has been the blue touch paper to our growth. And we can’t continue without them, without our Khaos Family.
That’s why keeping on getting better in all we do is so essential – to keep them with us in the years ahead and grow the Khaos Family further, in scope and in wealth.
Second, Khaos Control Hybrid. Hybrid, one database hosted up in the cloud, means freedom from synchronisation, means fewer errors and means accessing business data wherever you are with Khaos Control Cloud. Back office servers present a hard limit to business growth. They’re hard to set up, hard to maintain and are a single failure point unless you’re making frequent backups. Hybrid’s hosting solution removes each pain point. By outsourcing installation and upkeep to experienced data centre personnel, you’ll be able to focus on what’s important. You’ll have peace of mind your data’s secure with the solution’s disaster recovery. And you’ll pay only for the resources you need with dynamic pricing – with no upper limit on these resources, there’s no upper limit how far your business can scale online.
When we demoed Hybrid at Khaos Con, the audience were bowled over by the power of one database up in the cloud, vividly shown by updated product prices feeding through instantly to an online storefront. Your business should be in on this innovative new product, so do get in touch with the team to see how we can take you forward.
Third, Bray Solutions’ success story with Khaos Control as told by their self-effacing and effusive Head of IT, Bob Sampson. Bob covered how Bray arose from its parent company’s desire to make use of the warehouses and storage space liberated by the Great Recession, and had to crack a number of technological challenges confronting both hardware and software. For hardware, ensuring that Wi-Fi saturated their units, so Hand Held Terminals (HHTs) linked to Khaos Control could interact with it reliably wherever they were. And for software, selecting an ERP system that could handle 200,000 stock items or Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) arising from Bray, operating in the third-party logistics space, receiving and sending goods all over the world. That software for Bray was Khaos Control which, as Bob affirmed, has never let them down in over five years.
Fourth, organisational changes we’ve made to go the extra mile with customer service. As explained by our Operations Manager, Dan Sherwood, the following aspects have been positively impacted:
- Implementation – project progress is now continually evaluated and subject to review post-implementation
- Training – we’re seeking, and acting on, feedback
- Development – we’ve made big investments on testing and quality assurance
- Support – we’re continually training and reviewing staff, working towards 99% ticket resolution within 24hrs
Not content to stop there, Dan told the audience we’re also aiming to:
- Apply updates automatically so your Khaos Control version will always be the latest
- Roll out a Customer and User Portal, allowing each to view and interact with Support tickets, developments and projects
- Introduce fortnightly ‘sprints’, or focused bursts of activity, to boost output
Fifth, Chloë Thomas’ marketing insights. We’re avid listeners of Chloë’s ‘eCommerce Masterplan’ podcast, which delivers great tips and tricks on surviving and thriving in the world of eCommerce, for years and were delighted to draw her out of Cornwall to address the Khaos Family on sharpening their marketing activity. Here are just a few of the many things we learned:
- Email matters. Email seems to hark back to another age – to the dawn of internet itself where AOL never stopped telling us “You’ve got mail” after the dial-up tone ceased its ten-minute-long cacophony of crackling and buzzing. But it still gets read and is, by far and away, the most effective means of reaching customers. Make obtaining their email addresses a priority and do so in an engaging way
- Consider contact frequency. For instance, if your product’s perishable, why not send out a reminder to buy another when it’s likely run out?
- Play on psychology. People don’t generally like to feel left out, which psychologists call ‘social proof’. Harness this, and other biases, to your advantage with appropriate messaging. Richard Thaler’s work on this earned him the 2017 Nobel Prize for Economics
Sixth, GDPR. Potentially a looming headache, GDPR, or the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, has big implications for marketers as our Andy explained. We won’t rehash his talk, the content of which was modelled on our earlier blogs on the topic, but suffice to say the audience found it a useful steer on how to respond.
Our GDPR blogs:
Seventh, upcoming functionality, to which it fell to Development Manager David Capps to demonstrate what we’ve been working on. This included:
- Warehouse control changes, encompassing:
- A common interface for all warehouse jobs – one view for managers of all warehouse tasks
- Barcode scanning in more places to speed up job processing
- Job batches optimised by stock location
- HHT redesign, involving:
- Two different front ends for HHTs
- A simple interface for low-end devices
- More complex interface for modern devices
- Improvements to Excel exports, so that:
- Data exports will work with all versions of Excel
- Data types and formatting is preserved
When to expect these changes? Improvements to warehouse functionality will appear in beta versions before the end of the year, prior to their provisional rollout in Q1 2018. As for updates to Excel exports, these will be implemented by the close of the year.
And, finally, we wanted to close by saying thanks. Thanks to staff who set everything up for and delivered presentations on the day, thanks to staff who publicised it in advance and thanks to staff who, by offering consistently great customer service, ensured we had a loyal customer base to invite. Above all, thanks to Khaos Family members who attended and contributed to the amazing atmosphere.
It was heartening to see so many Khaos Family members there, to think of how far we’ve come, from coding in a bedroom to our first conference – a grand room filled with daily users of what that code became.
If you couldn’t make it this time, we hope this summary provides a decent flavour of what you missed – see you at Khaos Con 18!