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1/24/2012
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Infor Plays Catch Up On Mobile

Mobile CRM and approval apps run on iPhone and iPad; supporting Infor Motion 10 platform delivered first via the cloud.

Enterprise applications vendor Infor unveiled Monday two mobile applications and a supporting Infor 10 Motion platform that will be delivered from the vendor's data centers. The approach makes a virtue out of necessity as Infor seeks to catch up with competitors on mobile enterprise apps.

Infor's new Apple iOS-native applications are Road Warrior, described as a "CRM light" app, and ActivityDeck, an alert, request, and approval application. An iPad app incorporating both applications is available immediately from Apple's App Store. Separate iPhone versions of Road Warrior and ActivityDeck are expected within a few weeks.

The software downloaded to Apple mobile devices supports native navigation and control over customized user interfaces, but these clients must be linked to Infor enterprise applications to be of any use. That's the part delivered by the Infor 10 Motion platform, which includes Motion Server and Motion App Manager components.

[ Want more on mobile? Read 5 Mobile Trends From CES. ]

The Motion Server is built on top of the Infor 10 ION integration framework, middleware that currently taps into four of the company's enterprise resource planning product lines: ERP Enterprise (formerly LN/Baan), ERP Express (Visual), Infor 10 Distribution Business (SX.enterprise), and Infor 10 Distribution iBusiness (A+). The Motion App Manager supports user provisioning, user license management, access privileges, password resets, and security features including remote wipe.

Hosted in Infor's data center, the Motion Platform is the vendor's answer to competitive offerings such as Sybase Unwired and Afaria device-management and security software, SAP's platform for more than two dozen mobile apps. Sybase started working on mobile apps long before it was acquired by SAP in 2010.

The Sybase mobile platform components were initially released as software customers had to deploy on premises, but in 2011, SAP added hosting partners including Verizon, which offers Afaria services at $7 per device, per month.

Infor declined to disclose the cost of the Infor 10 Motion service, but fees are based on annual subscriptions and per-named-user licensing terms. Once connected with one or more Infor apps, Road Warrior displays customer-relevant data from the CRM components of these apps, delivering mobile alerts, approvals, and tasks to sales-oriented employees. ActivityDeck, which also integrates with the Infor 10 Enterprise Asset Management app, serves up real-time alerts and supports request-and-approval business processes.

Infor is essentially where SAP (considered a leader on enterprise mobile apps) was two years ago on mobile support. But Infor is sidestepping the on-premises deployment route for now in the interest of rapid and agile delivery, explained Nick Borth, Infor's mobile-product manager.

"We're building this from the ground up, so by keeping everything in the cloud, we can deploy the updates and we won't have to release service packs and have customers applying patches," Borth told InformationWeek. "Instead we can control the migration pattern and quickly give early adopters the benefit as we incorporate new integrations and features."

Over the coming months, Infor says it will work with partners and customers to develop a library of additional integrations and reusable components to be shared toward the end of the year, as an Infor 10 Motion Builder software development kit.

Infor has plans for more apps, more platforms, and more hosting options, with device-native Android support and Amazon Web Services hosting options likely in the second half of 2012. The company also has plans for many more apps, including mobile shop floor production assistant, proof-of-delivery, inspection, and expense-management apps, according to Borth.

The Infor 10 Motion platform will ultimately be something customers could run on premises, and that's something some public-sector and healthcare customers might prefer, Borth admitted. But in the interest of rapid deployment and development, and fewer hassles for customers, Infor 10 Motion will get its start in the cloud.

As enterprises ramp up cloud adoption, service-level agreements play a major role in ensuring quality enterprise application performance. Follow our four-step process to ensure providers live up to their end of the deal. It's all in our Cloud SLA report. (Free registration required.)

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