Last week Infor held the most recent gathering of its users, Inforum at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Infor has a huge presence outside of manufacturing, specifically in retail and services industries, both of which were right at home in Manhattan.
A large percentage of Infor’s customer base and a good portion of the 7,000+ attendees at Inforum were from manufacturing and asset intensive industries. Having attended the 2014 New Orleans event, where Infor laid out their Cloud strategy and introduced their future direction for all their products, the 2016 event was more like a progress report than a grand unveiling. The good news was that the progress was substantial and existing Infor customers should take comfort in that they have a path to Digital Transformation and prospects should take note of Infor and consider them in their future strategy.
Moving in to IoT with Marketing Positioning
Announced by COO, Pam Murphy, Infor announced it is entering the Internet of Things (IoT)market with an offering based on Amazon AWS IoT. While most vendors seem to be heading into the IoT space partnering with Microsoft, Infor continues to break the mold. Through their CloudSuite offerings, they mentioned they are one of the biggest user of AWS, second only to Netflix. Therefore, it makes sense why they would choose to continue to work with AWS as they start their IoT solution journey.
Our first take is the view of their architecture is a similar approach to other vendors. The devil is in the details, and we look forward to getting an in-depth view on the direction and other partners they plan to work with as they roll this solution out. A possible initial advantage is their strong progress in the Cloud with industry ready offerings on the front end. How they connect to data sources, and handle Big Data and Predictive Analytics will be areas to investigate in the near future. For customers who selected Microsoft Azure as their preferred vendor need not to worry, as Infor provides for Cloud interoperability using ION integration to support the connection to azure and other Clouds. The Infor IoT Architecture:
Enterprise Asset Management Solutions Continue to Make Progress
We had an opportunity to sit down with Kevin Price, Product Director, EAM Portfolio who gave a good update on the progress Infor has made in consolidating and improving their EAM solutions. This has recently culminated in the recent win at New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). This is a good story as it indicates industries are finding value in a one solution, many assets approach. This can be attributed to increase flexibility in deployment and wider breadth and depth of functionality.
The next step for Infor is to take their solutions and package them for the mid-tier market in specific industry verticals. They intend to leverage the work of their growing partner program to take these solutions to market and using customers to validate the solutions. As many EAM vendors look to continue to move to the mid-tier market, we suggest looking for solutions that offer templates that are purpose built for their needs and can grow in sophistication as needed. These solutions should be easy to deploy and install to get users up and running quickly.
Digital Transformation: Redefining B2B/B2C – What is B2P?
One of the more interesting meetings was with James Toomey, part of the H&L Digital team at Infor. He made the point that today Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) was on its last legs thanks to Digital Transformation. He talked about the concept of Brand to People (B2P) as being the way to redefine your business in the digital era. While many of his examples and success stories came from the financial and healthcare sectors, the few discussions we had related to manufacturing and asset intensive industries aligned well with LNS’s Digital Transformation Framework’s 1st Stage – Strategic Objective setting. We had a lively discussion brainstorming the concept about how to build brand and it very much aligns with moving your business from selling products to selling services, or selling capacity instead of capital. It seems clear that for companies needing to break outside the box and conceptualize whole new business models that H&L Digital is an Infor resource that can help you make that leap.
For Today, Industries Still Are The Heart and Soul of Manufacturing
At the 2014 event there was a lot of discussion in the plenary sessions about verticals and Infor’s CloudSuite solutions that were going to roll out to support them. At the 2016 event there were a few examples given of CloudSuite success during the plenary sessions, but the meat came in the breakouts. CloudSuite for A&D was one of the first that Infor delivered and the breakout sessions that reported on its success were numerous and detailed, showing that Infor delivered on its promise for a number of their key A&D customers.
Meetings with Mark Humphlett (discrete manufacturing) and Mike Edgett (process manufacturing) provided some insight as to where Infor was having success today both with CloudSuite as well as their on-premise PLM, ERPand EAM solutions. In all of the discussions it came down to addressing critical business needs on an industry-by-industry basis; things like complex product management, DOD accounting and ITAR compliance and lifecycle support in A&D and quality and track & trace in Food & Beverage. One of the differentiating elements for Infor is that they have a portfolio of solutions such as LN for larger discrete manufactures including A&D and Automotive, M3 for midsize to large process manufacturers including food & beverage, and SyteLine for small to mid-sized manufacturers. Rather than try for a one-size fits-all model they have successfully supported different products for different industries. Not every acquisition Infor has made has survived in the long run but those that have seem to be getting serious investment on both functionality and technology fronts.
Overall the Inforum 2016 event delivered proof of performance based on the vision revealed two years ago, but there is still more to do; particularly as it relates to developing their IoT platform. LNS believes Infor will make the investments and if need be, the acquisitions required to continue their evolution.
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