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Exclusive: Infor Steps Up Cloud, E-Commerce Plays

CEO Charles Phillips pushes Infor into hot new areas leading with slick new interfaces and cloud deployment on Amazon Web Services.
Customers moving to the cloud will pay a fixed setup fee of $25,000, so they'll know the conversion costs, and with per-user subscription pricing without upgrade costs, they'll also know their expense levels year-to-year, Phillips says.

Now that Infor is investing heavily in application upgrades, new interfaces and new deployment options, more than 700 customers have come back onto maintenance support, according to Phillips. What these and other customers want next, he says, is to move to the latest versions of their apps while letting somebody else run the IT.

"Customers will save a lot of money relative to running apps themselves, they can retire customizations and they get a more modern product and more confidence that they'll stay current and that we can run it better than most of them could," Phillips says.

Building New Storefronts

Rhythm is Infor's answer to the market being chased by IBM, Oracle and SAP. All of these giants have been making considerable investments in e-commerce, but Infor has been investing, too. For example, it picked up Epiphany's CRM and recommendation engine technologies in 2006, Lawson distribution and storefront capabilities in 2011, and TDCI product-configuration technologies earlier this year.

"This is for companies that have storefronts that were designed eight to 10 years ago that are not intuitive, that don't have the advanced capabilities we can deliver for up-sell and cross-sell, and that don't have a product configurator," Phillps explains.

[ Want more on Infor's latest enterprise apps moves? Read Infor Bets $500 Million On Enterprise App Refresh. ]

In addition to targeting companies with aging storefronts, Infor is also targeting business-to-business and wholesale organizations that are still clinging to phone and fax. Infor's internal design team will help with the look and feel of the sites, while ION integrates the various backend capabilities of the SaaS service with on-premises systems.

What about digital marketing, an arena in which Oracle picked up Eloqua, Microsoft bought MarketingPilot, and Salesforce.com acquired ExactTarget earlier this year? That's where Infor's 2012 acquisition of Orbis comes in, says Phillips, pointing to marketing resource management functionality for managing content and orchestrating campaigns.

So Infor isn't new to e-commerce, having proven deployments at Tommy Bahama, Microsoft (an Epiphany customer), Mohegan Sun and Navy Federal Credit Union, but Rhythm is a cohesive, SaaS-based integration of multiple Infor technologies. Infor will focus on the types of customers it knows best, starting with e-commerce for fashion businesses, wholesale distributors and equipment dealers, before moving on to customer-experience services for public sector agencies and healthcare and hospitality businesses.

Given all the legacy acquisitions and different eras of technology behind the scenes at Infor, one gets the sense that development standards and progress toward the cloud can't be as neat, clean and well architected as the company's slick new offices. But talking to Phillips, you also get the sense that the company is getting there, through aggressive investment and Phillips' vision and sheer force of will.