Enterprise software firm Infor has been pushing its strategic focus on the cloud at an event in London, including its recently announced Infor Xi next-generation platform. As part of this strategy it reiterated its commitment to deliver industry-specific solutions tailored to better meet customer requirements.
Speaking at the Inforum 2014 event, Infor presidents Duncan Angove and Stephan Scholl detailed how the firm had become the world's first "industry cloud company".
They were referring to the portfolio of industry-specific applications for finance, enterprise resource planning, supply chain and customer relationship management that Infor is gradually building up as cloud-hosted software as a service tools.
"We've been on a multi-year journey to become a cloud suite provider," said Scholl, adding that the firm is continuing its "micro-vertical" focus on industry-specific solutions.
"What do you usually have to do once you've licensed an enterprise application? You have to customise it to meet your requirements. That's why, four years ago, we started on a journey of minimising customisation by putting all the features you need in standard offerings."
Earlier this year, the firm announced its adoption of the cloud with Infor CloudSuite, a portfolio of apps hosted using Amazon Web Services.
The next step is Infor Xi, its next-generation platform that is intended to deliver a better user experience through contextual awareness and a user interface based on HTML5 controls, which also enables apps to be accessed on any platform, including mobile devices with touch screens, the firm said.
Meanwhile, the CloudSuite portfolio is being updated to integrate better with customers' HR, procurement and order fulfilment systems, according to Infor.
On choosing Amazon to host CloudSuite, Scholl said that "AWS is a real powerhouse", and that the cloud provider's global reach and rich platform features made it the obvious choice.
"We decided not build out our own data centres. Instead, we're leveraging the cheapest and most available infrastructure out there," he explained.
"Many companies here in the UK don't just do business here, but in the US and China as well, and AWS offers that global capability."
Another key focus for Infor is analytics, and the firm detailed how it is integrating what it calls Dynamic Enterprise Performance Management into its platform.
One customer already using this is the Ford motor dealer group TrustFord. The company's financial controller, Jonathan Pilbrow, said that it allows TrustFord to make decisions daily on how to achieve business goals, using information gathered from every dealership across the UK.
"The biggest benefit is how quickly we can react to changing circumstances, and the only information we have is what is selling on a day-to-day basis," he said.
To expand this capability to cover big data, Infor has created Infor Dynamic Science Labs to build up "core competencies" around machine learning and big data analytics, tasked with helping customers solve problems.
One area where this is starting to bear fruit is in using predictive analytics to optimise inventory, Scholl said, allowing customers to make savings by not holding any more inventory than is required.
Infor also announced the expansion of its UpgradeX programme to help customers migrate an on-premise Infor solution to the cloud.
"We've now extended this to include customers running Infor XA, BPCS/LX, System21 and SunSystems," said Scholl.
However, he was keen to reiterate that customers are not being pressured into moving, and that Infor will continue to support companies running Infor 10X on-premise.
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