Infor Settles Into Big Leagues With $227M Workbrain Deal

Workforce-scheduling software vendor is Infor's 21st acquisition in five years. You probably know some of its holdings better than the holding company itself.

Mary Hayes Weier, Contributor

April 6, 2007

5 Min Read

We are No. 3! That cheer may not cut it with the pompom set, but it sounds just fine to Infor Global Solutions CEO Jim Schaper. Following the company's $227 million deal last week to acquire workforce-scheduling software company Workbrain, Infor is on pace to exceed $2 billion in annual revenue, planting it firmly (though still well) behind SAP and Oracle in the enterprise applications market.

You haven't heard of Infor? The privately held company is an amalgamation of 21 companies acquired over the past five years, including ERP vendor GEAC Systems, for which Infor paid $1 billion, and SSA Global, itself a conglomerate that comprised Baan ERP software, Epiphany marketing management software, and other products, for which Infor paid $1.4 billion.

Infor's value proposition is pretty simple: low total cost of ownership, especially where it competes with SAP and Oracle, and best-of-breed software where it doesn't. In October, Aberdeen Group pegged the per-user total cost of ownership of Infor's ERP software and services at $3,922, compared with $4,816 for Oracle and $5,995 for SAP. Oracle and SAP serve bigger customers with more complex implementations, Aberdeen explains, while companies less than $1 billion in size--70% of Infor's base--spend less on outside services.

Infor also is in niche markets Oracle barely touches and where SAP tends to partner, markets such as warehouse management for retailers and fleet management for transport companies. Among its 70,000 customers are American Airlines (asset management), Boeing (ERP), and Washington Mutual (CRM). Infor promises to support the software it acquires indefinitely and not force customers to comparable products. But it's big on cross-selling customers: Schaper says for Infor's most recent quarter, cross-selling accounted for 12% of revenue, compared with 5% in the previous quarter.

Acquired Taste
Highlights of Infor's 21-company buying spree Who How Much When What Mapics $375 million April 2005 CRM, ERP, and PLM software for manufacturing Datastream $216 million March 2006 Asset performance management GEAC $1 billion March 2006 CRM and ERP for food, apparel, and consumer goods companies Extensity Undisclosed August 2006 Financial performance management software SSA Global $1.4 billion August 2006 ERP for manufacturing, freight management, warehouse management, transportation Workbrain

Data: Infor $227 million April 2007 Workforce management software

In 2001, investment company Golden Gate Capital saw before it a landscape of struggling software vendors with solid technology. "Businesses weren't buying anything from anybody in 2001," says Schaper, who became a partner in the firm after selling Dun & Bradstreet Software, where he was CEO, in 1995. "We decided the market was ripe for consolidation, and we would acquire companies, run them more profitably, and build a unique business." Infor was born.

Apparel retailer Spiegel chose Infor's Epiphany software based on its best-of-breed position, cost, and support, says CIO Tom Scott. Scott says he was briefed on the product road map for WM4000, warehouse management software that came from SSA Global, but he's still not clear on how Infor will integrate six other warehouse apps it has acquired. "All that integration seems like a daunting challenge," he says, "but they say they have a vision."

Infor's acting more like a tech company than a banker. It unveiled last month its road map for a service-oriented architecture that it says will let customers deploy and upgrade software with little disruption to other systems. Infor must prove it's as good at providing a stable tech path for its properties as it is at making money for investors.

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights