In a brief statement Infor has announced the release of Infor Mobile Field Service (MFS) for Infor M3 ERP. What is surprising is the lack of mobile devices that are supported with this initial release as well as a slightly confusing release version.
Infor Mobility for Field Service (MFS), v15.1.0 will allow remote field workers to access relevant data from their Infor M3 ERP solution. Specifically, it delivers assigned work orders to field service representatives with a user experience that one assumes has been through a hook and loop design filter. The screen displays work orders with a colour coded status tag and has been developed so that a minimum number of touches will action the appropriate workflows.
The new application integrates with ION to deliver additional functionality such as an interconnection with the Infor Document management solution (IDM). This allows field service agents to not just call up relevant documents attached to their various work tasks but also add images tagged to the appropriate asset or service delivery item back into the document management system with the relevant metadata.
The Service engineer is also able to capture all the relevant data at the point of work, saving time and ensuring that data that does not need to be entered can be defaulted, such as job timing. The application also delivers a reporting function that allows users to see all the relevant transaction data for their allocated task.
The mobile device screens can be personalised to ensure that only the relevant data for each engineer is displayed, saving time at the point of delivery. This is controlled by an administration toolbox that allows users to accomplish this configuration. For the engineers the roll out is simple, downloading the application and entering the appropriate connection code to start the interaction between Infor M3 and their mobile device
Brian Dunks, product director, M3 Product Management, Infor commenting on the release said: “As the equipment-centric industries continue to evolve and modernize, the technologies that support day-to-day operations must also mature and keep pace with the user. It is with this in mind that we created Infor Mobility for Field Service, which facilities access to strategic data from wherever the user may be located.
“This solution has been thoughtfully designed in response to the needs of our customers, to ensure that all users, including field technicians, are suitably equipped with the same high-quality tools that are utilized throughout the enterprise.”
Sensibly Infor has included a run time license for Infor ION for those customers that do not already have access to the middleware platform that binds the Infor applications together.
What is really disappointing about this announcement is the dearth of mobile devices supported. There is no mention of mobile phones of any description being supported, which is surprising. Not only that but only tablets running Android 4.4 and Windows 8.1 or later are supported with an iOS version not available until sometime in 2016. While it may be true that not many field service agents utilise iPads because of the price premium it is very surprising that no mobile phone devices are supported. While we asked Infor for confirmation of this we are still awaiting a response.*
(*See comments below for Infor Response)
The version number allocated to MFS is also odd, it infers that it is a new release for Infor M3, and yet also appears to be a separate application. What makes this stranger is that the documentation for Infor M3 15.1.2 was published back in February 2015, normally version numbers increment and one wonders whether this announcement is a reaction to the Oracle Utilities Operations Mobile Application that was announced earlier this month.
Infor are striving to improve their applications and show that they are capable of mixing it with SAP and Oracle. This is a statement that would have been surprising to many a year ago but with partners such as West Monroe coming on board it now has a ring of truth about it. When announcing new releases they need to be careful to ensure that they are delivering what people expect with a degree of consistency. One of the challenges that Infor faces with its multiple ERP solution approach is clarity of messaging around new releases.
If this application works with ION rather than direct to M3 one wonders why it wasn’t developed to integrate with other Infor ERP platforms such as Infor LN or Lawson as well. There may be some justifiable reasons for this but the development overhead that Infor are building if every single component is to be separately developed is daunting.
Infor has released an application that many users will welcome (the good). The it only functions on Android and Windows devices will be disappointing (the bad). The user experience though, based on the internal hook and loop design criteria will likely be as beautiful as intended.