Event Report: Inforum 2008 Highlights Transition from Acquirer to Builder


Inforum’s  attendees were treated to a wonderful pre-keynote string
quartet
and a booming opening inspirational from both the Las Vegas
Philharmonic Orchestra and the rock band Innovation.  As the orchestra
took a bow, Infor’s CEO Jim Schaper, emerged from the conductor’s stand
to the surprise of over 5000 attendees.  The ever personable and
charismatic CEO discussed how Infor would help customers compete in an
emerging world of business networks that required innovation to be able
to respond to change.  He also spoke of the $325M being invested back
into the product in the next 4 years.

Key innovation announcements from the event include:

  • SaaS offerings. Infor announced several SaaS
    options into the marketplace for users of Infor ERP SyteLine, Infor EAM
    (Enterprise Asset Management), and Expense Management.

    POV:
    Keep in mind, these are true multi-tenant SaaS options, not hosted On
    Demand plays like other competitors.  Discussions with attendees showed
    a mixed reaction to SaaS offerings, but in general there was
    receptiveness to a new lower overall cost model.  Most attendees
    believed this showed Infor’s investment into new technology.

  • Expanded relationship with Microsoft SQL Server. The
    announcement of a single Infor point of contact for sales, maintenance,
    and support provides a cost competitive option for customers seeking to
    take advantage of significant performance and feature improvements in
    Microsoft SQL Server. 

    POV:

    Over 50% of Infor’s
    customers have deployed solutions on Microsoft SQL Server across 20
    solutions.  This move delivers a win-win for customers in price and
    support.  In the future, new features in SQL server could provide
    customers with stronge BI capabilities.
  • Role based launch pad. Infor MyDay is a web 2.0
    user interface that’s role based to 150 personas that Infor has defined
    for its clients.  Infor’s MyDay product represents the leading edge
    thinking in user experience where tasks, alerts, and performance
    indicators are pushed to users based on their roles.   This first release involves 16 roles across four ERP products.

    POV:
    This builds off of Infor’s announcement last year where there was a
    push towards portals.  The key differentiator is the move towards
    persona based development which gives Infor a unique design approach on
    par with the Microsoft Dynamics approach.  Infor joins Lawson, IFS, and
    Epicor as early adopters towards more Web 2.0 centric approaches.
  • ERP LX enhancements for the i-Series base. New
    enhancements delivery improved regulatory compliance and usability.  In
    addition, there are added globalization capabilities that support
    multiple languages in a single data basis and a key GMP (Bood
    Manufacturing Practice) requirement for the US Food and Drug
    Administration and the European Food Safety Authorit. 

    POV

    :
    The i-Series base has been neglected a bit for some time.  These
    improvements were well received by the ERP LX customers on site.  After
    speaking with about 23 customers on older versions of BPCS, there was
    now a good incentive to upgrade to ERP LX.

What it means

As one of the few enterprise apps vendors over $1B in revenues,
Infor is set to be one of the survivors in the next economic cycle and
a significant alternative for Oracle and SAP customers looking for
purpose built solutions and divisional standalone applications.  In
addition, Inforum as an event is well on its way of must attend events
during the year and highlights the key trends in the SMB market.

Your turn

Do you own an Infor product?  Are you expanding the
usage of Infor products?  Do you see these as more value oriented
alternatives to the Big 2?  Do you have issues with Infor.  Looking
forward to hearing your thoughts.  Post a comment or privately reach
out to me at rwang@forrester.com

Copyright © 2008 R Wang. All rights reserved. Reposted from http://blog.softwareinsider.org