Acquisition agreement. Under CC 3.0 Creator attribution: Nick Youngson - link to - has announced the acquisition of Poka, terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Founded in 2014, Poka has become a leading connected worker platform for manufacturers. Its solution helps more than 1,000 manufacturers to onboard, train and manage manufacturing workers. Poka helps factory floor and field workers to onboard faster and increase the productivity of new and existing workers across their organisation. In turn, increased productivity improves revenues and profitability. In addition, the solution provides issues management, checklist and compliance features that help improve the safety of workers and contributes to ESG goals.

With this acquisition, IFS strengthens the portfolio of solutions that makes up IFS Cloud and includes ERP, FSM and EAM, complementing each of these at the point of work. Manufacturing is facing a talent and labour shortage. Deloitte Insights predicts that 2.1 million manufacturing jobs will remain unfilled in the U.S. alone by 2030. In the UK, Make UK estimates that 36% of vacancies in manufacturing are proving hard to fill as applicants lack the appropriate skills, qualifications or experience.

Darren Roos, CEO, IFS (Image credit ifs)
Darren Roos, CEO, IFS

IFS CEO, Darren Roos, commented, “The concept of a connected worker is synonymous with the augmented worker because of the direct impact on improving productivity and operational efficiency. With a potential manufacturing skills gap in the U.S. alone which could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030, closing this gap, it is as much a technology need as it is a change management and worker empowerment need. Improving access to information and knowledge means workers can become part of an integrated continuous improvement cycle.

“The concept of connecting every single worker was historically overlooked as part of digital transformation journeys yet, giving workers the ability to get information whenever and wherever they are in the factory not only improves their experience, it is fundamental to building manufacturing agility something we understand very well at IFS.”

Poka addresses the connected worker need

Co-Founder Alex Leclerc identified, while working for a global food manufacturer, that traditional HR and learning systems catered to back office staff, a gap in the market for shop floor workers existed. Alongside Antoine Bisson, CTO, he co-founded the firm to address that need. It uses mobile technology to help reduce paperwork and improve productivity at manufacturers worldwide.

Poka also has a long list of customers across 55 countries. These include Bosch Automotive, Danone, L’Oreal, Kraft, Mars, Nestle, Tetra Pak, Rio Tinto and ABB. Arne Smolarz, Head of Manufacturing IT, Bosch, commented, “Poka has quickly become part of our daily operations and is helping to capture best practices in a centralized, easy-to-access knowledge base.”

Alexandre Leclerc, CEO of Poka, commented, “We are incredibly proud of the best-in-class platform we’ve built and our pioneering leadership in the Connected Worker space. Becoming part of IFS will enable us to further innovate and extend the value we create for manufacturers.

“As the global workforce crisis deepens, more companies are looking to scale their digital factory projects across the enterprise. With the help of IFS’s global presence and industry experience, Poka will be better equipped to deliver on its mission at scale.”

Poka, and now IFS, can help ensure workers are quickly onboarded, trained and productive in a safer environment. The Poka solution also supports digital transformation efforts. Its paperless solution ensures data is captured digitally rather than on paper, thus improving sustainability metrics.

Both founders appear to be joining IFS, with Bisson commenting on LinkedIn, “We are now starting a new chapter. I am very proud to say that we will join IFS to accelerate our growth and start the next phase of Poka. When we visited the IFS team a couple of weeks ago, we automatically fell in love with the drive, culture, and ambition. It is a true rocketship. We are more than excited to start this new chapter of Poka and continue to build the vision we have created for ourselves and our company.”

Poka has been recognised for its excellence with an Open Bosch Award for outstanding innovation. It has also been recognised as a top Connected Worker vendor in Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Manufacturing Operations Strategy four years in a row. On G2, it is a contender for connected worker solutions, but IFS may help boost this over the coming months.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

This is a well-considered acquisition by IFS. While the terms were not disclosed, IFS will likely have paid a multiple of the CA52.9 million (approx US$40 million) that Poka has raised over the last few years. Its last funding round was in 2021, raising CA$30 million in a round led by 40 North Ventures.

The solution complements the IFS stack and should dovetail well into the solutions. What will be more interesting is to see how the solution will integrate with EAM, ERP and FSM over time. Poka already has several integrations, including Microsoft, Workday, and SAP. An open API approach should see the integration to IFS occur fairly quickly.

With a long customer list, IFS may see this as an opportunity to compete against SAP and Microsoft in several customers with a more integrated solution. It will be interesting to see whether it can cross-sell into the Poka customer base in the coming months and years.


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