I have written in past about Infor’s micro-vertical strategy and its quest with its internal design agency Hook +Loop to make enterprise software “beautiful”. I saw more of that at Inforum in New Orleans this week, but I also signs of the messages maturing more into a focus on efficiency and value from software.
To start with, it is good to see an application vendor talk feature/function and business process, not just platforms and speeds and feeds. I spent time at the event with customers and Infor execs from healthcare, hospitality and fashion. Transactional systems and analytics to optimize revenues and operations. The analytics focus was particularly pronounced with pretty visualizations, but even more of a focus on predictive analytics with MIT data jock class talent in its “Dynamic Science Lab”
Not just verticals, there was more in what Infor calls “Corporate”. A new General Ledger for the global, multi-entity, multi-calendar world we live in. Expanded HCM footprint with more analytics around workforces.
And new CRM functionality with a recent acquisition, SalesLogix. New discrete PLM functionality via a partner, Aras to add to process PLM Infor offers via its tool Optiva.
To me, it was more exciting to see a focus on value from software – coming at the heels of my summer writing a book about the bloated SAP economy.
Infor has taken a leaf out of the SAP sales playbook and has a Value Engineering team which focuses on payback analysis. What’s different is it is also showing up in efficiency in UX. Infor talked about a paradigm it calls Clear Work and the goals are improving appeal to users, but as important to increase productivity, to decrease errors and to decrease training time. It talked about attacking the “tyranny of the super user” – simpler functionality so organizations don’t become dependent on a handful of individuals.
The Value Engineering impact is also being felt in payback analysis across vertical processes with several examples like one below:
CEO Charles Phillips has been quoted as saying “Friends don’t let friends buy data centers”. There was significant talk of Infor’s commitment to Amazon Web Services for its cloud infrastructure. Why not leverage the biggest “super computer” with auto-scaling, Redshift, cloud trail and many other services to the benefit of your customer community?
The partner expo was full, but not ostentatious – nothing like the 2,000 square foot booths and 22 foot tall signage at SapphireNow. Many of the partners are regional and industry specific like Ciber and Stoltenberg. Most are low-hype and operationally focused. The latter is particularly important as most Value Engineering payback is in the operational areas not as much the “corporate functions” which many services firms do better at.
Overall, Infor’s wide product, services and talent portfolio continues to grow. Many analysts find Infor difficult to categorize. Infor plays to many three letter acronyms but it is always breaking into new ones.
Charles described a call from an executive of a Commercial Real Estate company asking if he would be interested in developing functionality for their micro-vertical. At other vendors, they would be lucky to get a call back. Charles’ response “we will be glad to analyze the market and if we can find a group of charter customers, sure we will”.
Expect more breaking of boundaries from Infor.