Five years ago, I wrote a note titled Infor: a grown-up sleath startup. I wrote about investments Charles Phillips and his team were making including those in ION middleware and in beautification its captive design agency Hook and Loop was bringing to the product, to its events and real estate. But I was particularly excited about Infor’s industry focus. I followed up in 2014 with the Infor promise in the note It’s a Vertical World after all.
As readers know I have been disappointed with the pace of verticalization in cloud solutions. Way too many vendors spray paint an industry specific feature or two on top of their horizontal financial, HCM or CRM modules and call that verticalization. My expectations for verticalization are more demanding from two angles
- I want to see a significant industry “book of record” offering. If you say you are committed to retail, I want to see a robust offering and a sizable customer base in the merchandising area. If it is insurance, show me similar around claims processing. If it is utilities, I want to see a billing engine, and one for complex asset management and maintenance. If it is healthcare, show me electronic patient records. If it is oil and gas, show me functionality their geologists consider critical.
- I also want to see contemporary functionality. Show me something customers can plan a serious digital transformation around. So, for example, if you say you are committed to manufacturing markets show me execution support for a modern shop floor with robotics, sensors and wearables. For utilities, show me support for net metering and for plants fired by renewable fuel.
My hope was the savings to Infor not having to invest in cloud infrastructure and instead leveraging that of Amazon’s would go towards verticalization. I have seen investment in horizontal HCM, analytics, even a new general ledger. While Infor has made some industry investment, I would like to see a lot more. I want them to deliver to their tag line “we understand that making tires is different than processing milk. Processing milk is different from manufacturing apparel, and both are dramatically different from caring for sick patients”.
So, I was excited when I heard Infor has acquired Vivonet which offers solutions for POS, kiosks, kitchen systems, payments, labor scheduling, and food and labor cost management. In the press release, Infor says it already has hospitality functionality which covers property management, revenue management, asset and incident management, analytics, and artificial intelligence.
I am going to Inforum next week and am going to try and see what “books of record” major hospitality companies have adopted from Infor. I am also going to try and find out which are anchoring their digital transformations around Infor products. I travel a fair amount and must admit I do not see Infor (or other ERP competitors) show up as strategic vendors for too many in that industry.
It will be good to also see Infor progress in other industries it is focused on including healthcare, retail and manufacturing. And since it is in Washington, DC I presume we will hear about Infor’s progress in public sector and aerospace markets. In short, I am looking forward to seeing Infor’s delivery five years after I got excited about their vertical strategy.