Infor CEO Charles Phillips opened the Infor Inspire event in Amsterdam this week. Phillips confirmed that the company had successfully expanded from its traditional base of manufacturing and distribution. It has invested heavily on its cloud and network platforms and emerging technologies such as AI, analytics.
In the last 4 years Infor has invested nearly $4bn in R&D. The company invested in new products and suites, particularly around cloud-based product portfolio. Infor has also spent in key industry functionality, data enhancements, user experience, apps, IoT. Phillips expects that spending trend to continue as the company seeks to create its own eco-system.
Seeing the cloud revolution
As a result of the investment, the company has added 3,000 features to CloudSuite solutions in the last 12 months. Infor confirmed it currently has 1,900 partners and operates in more than 200 countries around the globe.
“We made a business decision to concentrate on the application layer, where we can add real value to customers and not to get into the infrastructure business,” said Phillips. This decision appears to be paying dividends. The company has nearly 9,000 customers, with 77 million users in the Infor Cloud.
According to Phillips, “We saw the cloud revolution coming and have re-tooled some of our applications. We made our solutions cloud-native and undertook the infrastructure work that was needed to make them cloud-ready.“ As a result, the company reported 36% growth in Saas revenues for the year. In EMEA, 25% of revenues came from its cloud-based activities.
The nature of work
Phillips believes the rapid pace of technology and automation is redefining the nature of work. He noted that 26% of the world’s population now has a smartphone in their pockets. However, he questioned if work was getting easier or made people more productive. He noted that productivity in Europe and US has only grown by only 9% and 8% respectively. Technology has to make people more productive.
Cash in the attic
In January this year, Infor confirmed that IPO plans were 12-24 months away. The company had attracted an additional $1.5 billion in investment from existing shareholders Koch Equity and Golden Gate Capital. The company does not appear to be rushing to Wall Street. At Inspire Amsterdam, they re-confirmed the IPO option in 2019 or 2020, but this was “subject to market conditions.”
Soma Somasundaram, Infor’s CTO suggested Infor was the only company that operates at scale across the entire supply chain environment. “We work with companies who make products, ship products and sell products. All of this sits on Infor OS.”
According to Somasundaram the three most important features driving innovation include:
- Ensuring that all the channels (e.g. social, mobile and analytics) with access to data has to be secured in a unified way.
- API’s that integrate different data applications from varied companies and locations.
- A typical business has multiple systems that generate data. All of these data streams create the need for a comprehensive data solution that supports the business.
Enterprise Times: What this means for business?
Infor successfully continues to juggle the numerous balls in the air. The company is attracting new clients in relatively new sectors such as retail, fashion and hospitality. As a result, its seen less as simply a manufacturing and distribution ERP provider.
However, the company has not forgotten its roots in manufacturing. Many manufacturers are looking to replace ERP solutions. Infor is still well placed to take advantage. The Infor CloudSuite products were rewritten to enable customers to adopt them without adding expensive customisation. This still puts Infor at an advantage against its traditional rivals.
The company continues to support the migration of on-premises customers to cloud-based solutions and is able to embrace emerging technology such as artificial intelligence (AI).
It has been busy building its global eco-infrastructure which incorporates new products, enhanced functionality, industry specific solutions and global partners. Infor’s Education Alliance Programme is also building an international network of future professionals with expertise in the company’s solutions.
Furthermore, the company appears to have plenty of cash in the attic and is not rushing to go public via an IPO. The company is definitely, one to watch, particular in the battle to win new contracts in the mid-market and enterprise-level. However, this will be dependant on the company attracting new talent and more global partners to sustain Infor’s corporate ambitions and strategy.