18 Dec 2011: Just a few weeks ago Mike Payne, one of the founders of PTC, SolidWorks, and SpaceClaim, noted on his LinkedIn page that he was un-retired. I found this exciting enough to reach out to Mike to find out about his new company. As a result Mike Payne, Kenesto CEO since March of this year, hosted me earlier this week at their offices in Waltham, MA. He and some of his staff filled me in about the product and where it’s heading.
Basically, the product is the antithesis of Payne’s formerly complex products in the CAD arena. Aimed at the category called business process automation, this cloud-based application allows asynchronous spawning of processes. Different from similar systems that try to model processes, Kenesto builds processes on the fly. Users wanting to track a process they are initiating, for instance an ECO, initiate a process, attach documents to it, and add users to the next process by adding their email addresses. Different types of “next processes” can be defined, such as “review and approve.” At each step in the process the recipient can add additional processes that add steps to the overall process. Kenesto builds the process diagram as steps are added. Note that this differs significantly from the BPM (Business Process Modeling) approach that models processes using a cumbersome programmatic approach. Kenesto calls it Business Process Automation (BPA).
We spent a fair amount of time discussing security and about control of attached documents. Jerry Meyer, Kenesto’s chief product officer, explained that most documents (CAD images, docs, pdf’s or other related files) could be made view only, limiting the need for most security. In addition, Meyer and Payne both emphasized that ideally Kenesto would point back to the primary data vault, which provides primary security for collaborative data sharing. Users would most likely, if needed, upload to Kenesto more concise files, such as JT.
Each user of the process can examine all of the process steps, and see who did what and the entire process status. Processes can complete, but are left in the system for inspection and review. This brings up many possibilities of additional value. Different than is done in most cases today, each Kenesto process contains value in that the steps are recorded as to who did what, when it was done, and the reasons for certain decisions. Imagine, as might be the case for an FEA analysis of a product during the design cycle, if you could record the various simulation alternatives and capture the alternative finally selected and the reasoning behind it. IMHO, this might be easier than the complex simulation capture and record systems being proposed by many CAE systems such as Simulia and Siemens’ PLM Software.
Product status: Kenesto is approaching their first Beta and will use this to refine their product and its UI. Right now the user interface appears to be very simple. Being cloud based, and storing little or no CAD data, implementation involves signing up for the product and picking some areas to begin using the system. Ideal areas would be those that require tracking of the process status.
Pricing is not yet available. Payne described that the company is searching for a pricing schema that encourages the use of the system rather than the alternative. Kenesto is building up its staff. Currently the company is small, with development in Israel.
I like the approach. Clearly the system is evolving rapidly. Not too different than Autodesk’s 360 Nexus approach, the idea of fitting in to the way organizations work rather than forcing each company into using “best practices” should simplify implementations. Most importantly, Kenesto enables tracking the flow of information across organizational boundaries and can insure that critical design and review steps are not lost in the day-to-day miasma of paperwork and deadlines.
You can find put a bit more at http://www.kenesto.com and download a paper describing generally describing the product.