INFOR: Transforming and Innovating with a Much Clearer and Distinct Focus

April 23-24tth 2012, I attended INFORUM 2012, the global user conference of INFOR GLOBAL SOLUTIONS at Denver, USA. While my last trip to INFORUM was back in 2007 and 2008. In this paper, I would like to summarize the dramatic change of INFOR over the past 3 years.

The General Session of INFORUM 2012

In my opinion, as comparing to 3 years ago, INFOR has dramatically evolved in 5 areas of focus:
First, INFOR changed executive team and corporate strategy. During the period of 2009 to 2010, with the global economic recession impacting most industries, INFOR was among others IT companies whose business was also affected. Mr. Charles Phillips, the well-known entrepreneur in the IT industry and former President of Oracle decided to take up INFOR's CEO since October 2010. He then established a new executive management team, restructured the corporate positioning strategy, product strategy and organizational structure. Under his leadership, the corporate strategy of INFOR was clearer andthere was substantial and noticeable improvement in the performance of the company.

Mr. Charles Phillips, the CEO of INFOR

INFOR executive team

Second,in early 2011, INFOR and its parent company, Golden Gate Capital, acquired LAWSONSOFTWARE, a well-known business application software company approximately $2B. The acquisition strengthened the competitiveness of INFOR within the fashion, healthcare, food and beverage industries and also improved the competence of INFOR in the HCM solution. Through the acquisition and organic growth, the revenue of INFOR expanded to $ 2.8 billion in 2011, positioning as the 3rd largest provider of enterprise applications and servicer with a total of 70,000 customers in 194 countries and 12,400 employees around the world.

INFOR executive team interacted with media and analyst

The roadmap of INFOR

Third, in October 2011, INFOR launched the INFOR10 and INFOR ION Suite, creating a major technological and innovative footprint.

1. ION is a looselycoupled, lightweight middleware which can not only exchange information among applications, but also can be used to define business process and event to drive for approval, trigger the process of event handling and alert key events. For example, when the customer order does not delivery on time, the alert is occurred.

2. INFOR10 Workspace offers a unified portal of all INFOR application software and third-party software, such as Salesforce SAAS model CRM. The Web-based workspace can not only achieve single sign-on, but also enable in-context BI to show the chart of KPI, and the documents needed (such as the picture of an equipment in EAM system) based on the user's working status and intent. The users could share the information to internal community. Thus, INFOR10 achieves the consumer level user experience and greatly enhances the usability of INFOR software applications.

The In-context BI interface of INFOR Workspace

3. INFOR10 integrates the solutions for Mechanical equipment, Automotive, Aerospace, Fashion and several other industries. INFOR releases a new generation of development platform, Mongoose, which can enable configuring, customizing and developing the INFOR application software visually and easilyon Infor10 ERP Business (SyteLine). INFOR10 Motion fully supports mobile applicationsof INFOR software.

4. INFOR10 can be flexibly deployed on cloud or on premise.

5. INFOR launched Local.ly software for better support the localization of international companies to localize and easily meet the finance and tax systems of different countries.

6. After several acquisitions, INFOR accumulated a lot of good technologies. These outstanding technologies are extended and applied in INFOR10.

Fourth, INFOR pays much more emphasis on sub vertical solutions and specialized application solutions. For example, INFOR divides automotive industry into large OEM, large and medium-sized auto-parts, and SME auto-parts manufacturers, used different product and solutions to meet the needs of these three types of customers. Mr. Ronald Li, director of product management, Asia Pacific, INFOR said that INFOR has several good references of INFOR10 ERP Business (SyteLine) in Chinese printing industry, such as Shanghai Zidan Printing Company, This denotes that INFOR has the right software tailored to the specificsolution for printing industry. Within theChinese market, INFOR has established a leading position at supply chain execution area in China, especially in INFOR SCM Warehouse Management and INFOR SCM Transport Management solutionswith richer functions. INFOR also has referenceable customers, including FAW, Suguo Super Market, RT-Mart, and several large local enterprises. Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) is another area where INFOR has significant competitive advantage in China. Subway companies within a few Chinese cities are using INFOR10 EAM Enterprise solutions.

The industry suites of INFOR

Fifth, INFOR has established a strategic partnership with Salesforce to provide INFORCE series solutions. Leveraging on INFOR ION platform, the seamless integration of Salesforce CRM system which is based on cloud computing and INFOR ERP solutions can now be achieved. Front office system and back office system could also be collaborated. For example, the marketing event management system and order processing system could be integrated within INFOR ERP system. The two companies complement each other very well, so this alliance is definitely win-win.

About 5000 people attended INFORUM 2012 this year with hundreds of professional breakout sessions. It was a great opportunity for customers to network and communicate with each other and talk to INROR's industry and solutions experts. There was also various product showcases at the Exhibition hall of INFORUM 2012 which are not only of INFOR solutions but by INFOR's partners such as IBM and so on. Moreover, I had the opportunity to watch the demonstration of INFOR 10 Workspace, ION and MONGOOSE, and was inspired by the excellent performance of INFOR10.

GAC Group and GREE become the strategic customers of INFOR

Atthe General session, Mr. Charles Phillips, the CEO of INFOR specifically mentioned about the successful implementationof two large Chinese manufacturers, which were GAC Group and GREE. It shows that INFOR pays much attention on Chinese market, and has established solid customers' base at Chinese market. He said that INFOR would further increase the investment in China.
In my view, INFOR's strategic goal is to completely change the market structure of global businesses'way of using enterprise solutions. INFOR already has already achieved an industry specific enterprise solutions portfolio, a clearer and distinct corporate strategy, leading technology and strong management team. Thus, can INFOR achieve this strategic goal? Let's look forward.

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