Enterprise applications company Infor has been undergoing a transformation over the past 5 years towards becoming an industry specific company with a focus on the cloud. The company is betting big on emerging and niche verticals such as textiles, bakery, food and beverages, construction, fertilizers and even furniture and fixtures, among others to bring in tailored solutions and keep up the momentum in the industry.
While Infor was earlier known as an enterprise applications company, with on-premise solutions, its cloud journey started to accelerate when Charles Phillips took over as CEO in October 2010, bringing with him a team of specialists who worked on overhauling the company’s strategy and investing billions of dollars in creating a modern, cloud-focused, beautifully designed, data-driven enterprise software company.
One of the biggest solutions that have been released is ION [middleware] solution. It’s all about integrating a wide-range of software to be able to manage business processes. Since then most of its solutions are designed to meet industry- specific requirements and even addressing to the verticals level.
Verticalizing the offerings
Infor’s strategy consists of creating industry-specific cloud ‘suites’ that run on Amazon AWS and are designed so that customers don’t have to build in their own customizations. This attribute distinguishes itself from other generic cloud providers that offer the likes of ERP - and many of them are now thinking about how to verticalize their offering.
For instance, Koch Industries, an American multinational corporation estimated by Forbes to be the second largest privately-held company in the United States with annual revenue of approximately $100 billion, announced its implementation of Infor CloudSuite for financial and human capital management. Looking for a modern solution to power critical business applications, Koch Industries, with more than 120,000 employees, selected Infor because the organization has the scale, vision, and proven track record to deliver a digital platform for the Global 5000.
“Technology should never be the limiting factor to the growth of an organization, and an innovative, scalable solution is key to becoming a better and faster organization, especially when it comes to managing people and money,” said Steve Feilmeier, chief financial officer, Koch Industries. “Koch invested in Infor not only because of its high growth trajectory but because of the transformative effect Infor applications can have in supporting expansion and growth at Koch Industries.”
The other example would be the leading Indian construction firm KVM Project which has offices in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Rajasthan.
“Earlier we could rely on our in-house construction accounting solution. But with much of its growth coming from expansion, the company soon found itself with multiple accounting packages and reporting systems, requiring duplication of effort and tedious consolidation to analyze finances at the corporate level.
“We were at a point where we could not, with our existing technology, support our current organization or any future growth,” said Praveen Vasireddy, CIO, KMV Projects Pvt Ltd, a construction company that is using Infor LN, Infor ION, Infor Ming.le, Document Management, BI and Project Cost Ledger comprising the Infor cloud suite verticalized for the construction industry. The Go-Live for this project was the first week of July.
Betting big on AI, machine learning
To stay ahead of its competition, Infor has named its new enterprise-grade, industry-specific AI platform at its flagship event Inforum 2017 at New York City, in honor of Katherine Coleman Johnson, a physicist and mathematician whose critical calculations helped man reach the moon, and whose story was told in the film Hidden Figures.
The new solution mines data and uses powerful machine learning to improve processes such as inventory management, transportation routing, and predictive maintenance. In other words, it is now offering AI-driven recommendations and advice to enable users to make smarter business decisions more quickly, said, the company’s President Duncan Angove.
“Infor spent many years automating processes that followed clear rules, such as accounting and manufacturing processes. We are now leveraging machine learning and our access to large amounts of data to assist users with less structured processes such as complex decisions, conversations, and predictions,” said Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor.
Strong growth momentum
No wonder then that Infor’s cloud sales have grown from 5% per annum to over 50% over the last 3-4 years. It now has over 7,000 customers in the cloud and has 65 million users globally. The company’s partner network is also growing strong. This year, at the Infor Partner Summit held in New York City, in conjunction with Inforum 2017, partners were able to hear from executive leaders about how Infor works to drive momentum and growth for partners and develop innovative solutions for end users.
“The goal of the Infor Partner Network has always been to elevate our partners’ capabilities, to help our partners evolve to meet market demands, and to arm our partners with everything they need in order to be successful,” said Jeff Abbott, senior vice president, global channel business unit, Infor. “This has been another great year for the IPN and we are pleased to be able to recognize the partners that have done outstanding work with us.”
From Inforum 2017, one can understand that the company’s cloud strategy is maturing and becoming more refined. The company is now talking about integrating artificial intelligence on their ERP. The company seems to be super confident now on discussing enhanced capabilities such as IoT, connected enterprise, AI in order to make things easier for customers to get to the cloud.
More importantly, India is now a key growth market for Infor. In the words of Ashish Dass, Vice-President & Managing Director, South Asian Subcontinent, Infor, “Within a span of one year, the current government has made two landmark announcements-that of GST and demonetization. Overall, both seem to adversely impact some sectors of the economy in the short run but are bound to have long-term benefits and Infor is working towards the trend to make it work.”
Dass sees big data, analytics, cloud, mobile, social collaboration as the big trends to watch out for in the area of ERP. “We will also see more vendors moving from having just one ERP product to multiple ERP systems tailored to specific verticals and company sizes in the coming years,” he summed up.