Government // Enterprise Architecture
Commentary
10/26/2010
06:13 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Global CIO: Can Charles Phillips Grow Infor While Avoiding Oracle & SAP?

The Oracle ex-president's new company has $2 billion in revenue and 70,000 customers—and suddenly a much higher profile within SAP and Oracle.

"When Jim and I started to talk, one of the first things that I looked at was customer renewals for support contracts, and I saw that it was over 90%, so clearly Infor's been keeping its customers very happy.

"On top of that, what also makes this a very unusual opportunity is that Infor's got a lot of experience in acquisitions, and that's important because there's no doubt that this industry is consolidating, and so they don't have any steep learning curve—there's no big cultural shock to the system about acquisitions," he said.

Schaper, whose enthusiasm over the phone was palpable in describing Phillips, gushed that the former Oracle and Morgan Stanley executive "isn't the right guy for the job—he's the perfect guy for the job."

Schaper said that among Phillips' many qualifications, two in particular stood out during the six weeks of discussions the two men had about the company, the market, the customers, the competition, and the opportunity.

"First was his long track record of identifying and completing acquisitions—while we've done a pretty good job of that here ourselves, Charles will take it to the next level," Schaper said.

"But even more important to me and the board is an attribute that can go overlooked: in the time we've spent together over the last 6 weeks, which is vast, I've seen that Charles has a better grasp of how enterprise technology can drive business value for customers than just about anyone I've come across," he said. "With his vast understanding of what technology innovation can mean to businesses, it was just a no-brainer for us."

And so, with Infor set to release a sweeping range of new products and upgrades in January, Schaper said he's particularly excited about Phillips' ability to "help us take our new products and position them properly and drive them aggressively in the industry."

But as those new products come out, and as Schaper and Phillips "position them properly and drive them aggressively," it's a simple fact of life in this business that such moves will turn Infor from a fuzzy blip on the outer edges of the radars of Oracle and SAP into a clearly defined and highly resonant ping moving ever-closer to the center of their territories.

Forrester Research VP of enterprise applications Paul Hamerman offered this perspective on Phillips and Infor in an email exchange on Monday:

"Having Phillips on board doesn't change the competitive picture in the short term," Hamerman wrote. "It is about the products. Currently, Infor is not competitive with SAP and Oracle in enterprise-class financials and HR, for example. Its strength is in manufacturing ERP, mostly for the midmarket."

(Pssst: did you catch that key word, "currently"?)

Hamerman then outlined how Infor can try to avoid head-to-head competition with the big guys:

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