Infor has decided to hand the Hook & Loop design team free rein to set up H&L Digital. Hook & Loop was set up in 2012 and this announcement is the latest step in its evolution. Marc Scibelli, Chief Creative Officer, Infor, took to the stage at Inforum 2016 to explain the new service offering.
Why is this happening now?
This is an interesting question. Since 2012 Hook & Loop has grown to be the largest design agency in New York with over 100 staff. It has successfully transformed most of the Infor software with the latest thinking in design. That is, in a sense, the problem as within Infor their work is nearly done. Without new work the unit would have been downsized to in line with the lower demand.
Over the last few years though customers have noted the difference that the team has made. However, Hook & Loop has been engaging with customers for several years already. It is perhaps through the success of these engagements that Infor believes that the team can become revenue generating. Charles Phillips, CEO Infor commented: “With the creation of H&L Digital, Infor can deliver all the components of an end-to-end solution as a service: cloud-based industry applications, dynamic data-driven insights, cutting-edge user experience design, and a connected supply chain network.”
A new consultancy is born – H&L Digital
These are lofty ambitions and Scibelli explained the process of engagement during the keynote. The engagement begins with initial workshops or Hackathons held with the customer. This enables Hook & Loop to understand their business and how it could be improved in a digital landscape. Scibelli explained that this was first about automation and then differentiation. In each of these, three facets are considered:
- Employee engagement
- Operational efficiency
- Customer engagement
This initial phase is the strategic element of the engagement. Subsequently Hook & Loop enters the design phase. This plays to the Hook & Loop strengths as the teams create prototype solutions. This is done using Infor and third-party software according to Scibelli. It take 4-6 weeks for this phase which is then presented to the customers as a proof of concept.
At this stage some of the ideas will be rejected. It is likely to be an agile, exploratory and iterative process. Once approved the solutions are then assembled as designed. The final stage is implementation and running the new solutions in the business.
How does it work
There was some scepticism during the analyst Q&A with Scibelli after the keynote about whether Hook & Loop was able to deliver such lofty ambitions. It became clear that not all the components were ready and there was a shortage of consultants within the Hook & Loop team. Whether they are able to deliver on the strategy side is a question that can only be answered through engagements.
It seems more likely that once a customer has selected Infor then Hook & Loop can be engaged to help the customer transform their business. Certainly they will be able to suggest new ideas, process improvements and new interfaces for customers. There was a doubt as to whether they are capable of delivering the level of strategic advice suggested.
What was clear though is that Infor believe Hook & Loop have the capability of delivering digital transformation solutions to business and customers need only to pick up the phone. This is a new service that might conflict with the SI’s that Infor engage with as part of their channel. We asked Jeff Abbott, Senior VP, Global Alliances and Channels about this.
Abbott believes that the service will be complimentary to SI’s. Some SI’s, such as Deloitte, already offer digital transformation services. The Hook & Loop team bring a depth and breadth of expertise that often isn’t available to them. He believes that Hook & Loop is now a blueprint for how the SI’s might evolve.
While the keynote presentation was slick the Q&A gave a different impression. It seemed to indicate that the decision had been made quickly and without thinking through all the consequences. There is no doubt that Hook & Loop can offer a digital transformation service that is unique. It could make a significant difference to the companies it engages with. However the ambitions of delivering a full strategic consultancy seem a little more far fetched.
The details of the service are still being worked out. There were also mixed messages about what third-party applications Hook & Loop would be embracing. Consequently there is some detail for Scibelli to work out before he goes in front of the analysts again.