Enterprise Times recently caught up with Simon Quinton, VP and MD of UK and Ireland at Infor. Quinton is responsible for all revenue generated through the UK and Ireland. He is also responsible from the 160 people which make up the sales team within the region.
His role also sees him look at the overall operation in UK & I, around 900 people. He explained that he has the responsibility of improving employee engagement, the culture and of breaking down the silos between offices. Those silos exist partly as a result of the historic acquisitions that Infor has completed. It is a task that is clearly ongoing. Quinton has only been the in role a few months following the departure of Simon Niesler and the restructure of the EMEA region.
Enterprise Times asked how many customers Infor has in the UK and what is its approach to growth?
“That’s actually quite a difficult question to answer party because of the multinational component of most of the businesses that we deal with. From a corporate perspective we will quote that we have around 68,000 customers, 13,500 of those are cloud customers. Obviously we are looking to grow the net new business consistently. We currently have around 8,000 customers in the UK and Ireland. For me it is not so much about how many customers we take on it is about how many existing customers can we move onto the cloud journey or extend the footprint that they have with us.
“It is then about how we go and find these net new organisations that we bring onto the platform but really its about quality not quantity. Lets make sure that we sell customers the right software, that we can implement quickly that we know will make them successful.”
What are the strategic partnerships in UK?
“The partnership strategy is very clearly set by Kevin (Samuelson, CEO Infor). We will continue to have in UK and Ireland a very strong and fruitful relationship with AWS.
“For us to be successful against the growth that we would like to achieve in the next three years and beyond, we absolutely have to grow and embrace the ecosystem at a much faster rate than we have historically done. We have set ourselves a strong mandate to go and work with the Global SI’s. The challenge and the opportunity there is how to produce value for both sets of organisations. I see there is an opportunity to grow with those GSI’s. They deliver some really good technology and if we can supplement that with our technology then we can come up with a bigger and better solution for our customers. We are also hoping that we can accelerate our engagement at a more strategic level with our customers, which is something that the GSI’s generally do.
“At the same time the channel partners are also hugely important. We need to look at how we grow and deliver both. We have around 140 channel partners in the UK and Ireland at the moment. What we really want to do is launch CSD (CloudSuite Distribution) and say that that is very much a channel first strategy. CSI (CloudSuite Industrial) is likely to be a channel first strategy too. We believe CSD is a brilliant product and that it is right for channel partners to take it up, embrace and deliver and then make money from. We would love to see the channel it pick up and run with it, and we will support them in that.”
Quinton only started in his new role in October, it is still early days. ET therefore asked him what he had discovered about Infor in those last few months.
“What I discovered is that I have an amazing team across the board. There are individuals in our business that I would hold up as being the best experts in their field and the most successful I have come across, and don’t say that lightly. (Quinton spent several years previously at IBM, in the IBM channel and at SAP). I have also found that we have others that we need to get more engaged with the business. We have got people in the business that we need to educate and put on a really good career path to keep them invested in our organisation. We are pretty good at selling cloud software and if I look at the growth, we are on track to be very strong in year on year growth.
“If we really start focusing on the core competencies that we have as an organisation we put our customers first. If we look at how we execute and we put those processes in place that enable us to put much more predictability in the way we go to market, forecast accuracy and those types of things and we embrace the ecosystem, we have an opportunity to do something special in the business.”
What is strong growth for a cloud company?
“You have to put it into context of what you are trying to do. For us, it is about how do we accelerate cloud growth as much as possible. We also have to be conscious that we do not want to cannibalise our on-premises revenue stream. It is about the how do you do it and when do you do it. It is not about forcing customers to the cloud. There has to be a really good business case for them do it. There has to be a reason for them to do it. They have to want to do it and they have to be able to articulate, and be able to see the benefits of doing so. For me, we are tracking about 40% year on year growth of cloud.
Infor subsequently shared that UKI saw 137% year over year SaaS growth in the first three quarters of the year (up to the end of January 2020). It may be able to hold that growth for the full year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to hit numbers at the start of FY 2021. The reason for the growth was some significant deals across retail, fashion, travel, CPG and food & beverage. They included a major deal with Stagecoach.
Quinton continued: “What I would like to see from the business is doubling the size of cloud business in UK and Ireland in next three years. We want to accelerate our cloud growth without leaving any of our customers behind.”
On the future
What do you hope to achieve in next 6-12 months?
“Moving this business to a position where everyone understands that it is about customer success. That customer success leads to referenceability. That referenceability leads to greater revenue. I want to have an organisation where every single person in the UK and Ireland business understands our value proposition. I know that sounds crazy but sometimes we forget that there are people who don’t work in sales who talk to other people. If they don’t understand what our value proposition is then they are not able to articulate the company in the right way.”
While Quinton was unfamiliar with Danial Pink’s book “To Sell is Human”, this aligns completely with one of the main messages of that book.
To achieve that Quinton has a set of personal and corporate values that he intends to share and instil in the business. He continued:
“For me personally I have a set of values and I talk to my team about them constantly. I would like to feel that people judge me by those values. I have carried them with me for years. They are that we show professionalism, control and leadership in the things we do internally. Externally for customers and partners it is all about knowledge, commitment and trust.
“In the next six months I want to achieve a position where we enable each individual in the organisation to act in that way. We will achieve that through education, training and development. I also want to try to establish an environment is set around empowerment, teamwork and respect. I want people to feel that they can really contribute and that they are empowered to do so. In addition, I want people that they are working as a team rather than as an individual in a business. I want all of that to be done with an attitude of respect for each other. That doesn’t mean that hard conversations cannot be had, but they should be done with a positive rather than negative mindset.
“A lot of that is taken from the fact that last July I graduated with a masters degree in sales leadership and transformation. My specialist topic for my dissertation was the role of emotional intelligence in high performing teams.”
How is the UK different?
Where is your strategic focus in the UK? Are there any local nuances to the corporate strategy?
“It is pretty aligned. However, what we are doing is trying to distil that down into key focus industries particularly from a net new perspective. We are actually considering a change to the name of the net new team to call it focus industries. We will align everybody from business development, inside sales, sales, presales and everybody else around that messaging. Overall, the industries that we will go after are pretty much the same globally. We are looking at investing in the UK rental market and they are doing the same in the US.”
In previous years Infor has lauded Travis Perkins and Fullers as major wins. Both projects are unlikely to go live. Travis Perkins for various reasons including a change in business strategy. Fullers because it was acquired by a larger company that uses SAP globally. What is the next biggest Champion for Infor in the UK?
“The major accounts team are starting to really change the way we are engaging with that type of organisation. When I look at what the next one is going to be, we have organisations in Pharma that are looking at us and saying we want to talk to you about supply chain transformation. We have some asset intensive industries where we are seeing some brilliant things coming off the back of our existing references.
“Those are Nexus and EAM. We have organisations in Aerospace and Defence that are looking at how can they move away from just having one massive ERP implementation with something like SAP which isn’t actually efficient or in the right cost area for some of their business units.”
Earlier on in the conversation Quinton talked about quality over quantity. ET challenge him about this. While quality is good should added-value be just as, if not more, important?
“What really excited me at Inforum was when Kevin, Rod and Cormac changed the tone of the conversation. What they started talking about wasn’t what features and functions have we added to the product this year, it was business outcomes. It was how do we, first of all, use our value engineering team to go in with a customer work to understand what a business change looks like. Then how do we go back in 6 or 12 months time and say have we delivered the results that we expected against the business case. That is the value to the customer. If the business case is built on ‘we will mitigate this risk’ and we deliver on that then that is the value.
“Ultimately it has to be about how do we deliver solutions to our customers. When it is in, when it is working and when it is delivering. So you can sit down at the table and say I am getting value for the money that I spent.”
To do this, Quinton explained, Infor announced a new methodology at Inforum, Infor Agility. This aims to deliver projects in a more agile way, in an iterative delivery cycle. Quinton explained further saying: “We now need to look at projects not with we start here and end there but with we start at point one and how quickly can we deliver value to the customer and then how quickly can we take pieces to deliver more value.”
ET asked Quinton what challenges he saw ahead?
“Challenges are the same as they always are: Grow market share. Find net new customers Delivering the best service to our customer every single time. Accelerating time to deployment, time to market.
“The organisation is in a very good place to meet and exceed those. We have the right leadership team in place that is exceedingly supportive of what we are doing in UKI and globally. They are promoting a much, much better message. For me, I would like to see us doing a much better job on diversity and inclusion.
“I still think we need to do a better job of attracting the best talent. I know an awful lot of people in the industry. As they see us grow, adapt and innovate I am starting to see a lot more people coming and saying ‘I want to work for your organisation’. That is a really positive thing. Even in the last two years we are starting to see people knocking on our door rather than the other way around. That is something I am really, really proud of as a business. It means we are doing something right. “
On the subject of diversity Infor launched a new initiative “In The Black” this year. Quinton is aware of this but the US is taking the lead. It was launched to coincide with US Black History month in February. As yet, according to Quinton there are no plans for anything in the UK Black History month (October) though that may change as the year unfolds. Quinton explained that it would be looked at from a global perspective by HR.
What was the latest business book that Quinton read?
“I am actually staying away from reading any business books. The last business book was Daniel Goleman on Emotional intelligence and that was great. At the moment I am just reading some things that I am interested in around warfare. I have just read a book by Jason Fox, “Battle Scars”. He is an ex SBS soldier and appeared in the SAS TV program. He took an interesting angle around his experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I found that very interesting. My original degree was in international politics where I studied warfare quite a lot.“