Our approach reiterates our vision of providing customers with industry-specific software applications that require minimal modifications and meet all their needs. Infor has outlined a strategic roadmap for its customers by bringing in significant technology innovations as part of its specialised technology solutions for the equipment sector, says Tim Moylan, President, Infor Asia-Pacific. Excerpts from the interview.
What is the scenario in India as far as ERP implementation is concerned, especially in the IME segments?
Industrial manufacturing and equipment as a sector has always faced the challenge of innovating and introducing new products due to the numerous and frequent complex customer demands. In addition, the dealer sales, rental and service channels should be coupled closely with the manufacturing. When each piece of equipment is uniquely configured and assembled, the ability to track the assembled, sold and serviced profile of the equipment is critical. This total supply and distribution chain complexity further emphasises the need for smarter enterprise application software which can understand the specific needs of assimilating processes, automation, forecast demands and generating profitability whilst adhering to compliance all the way from initial design on to assembly and service.
ERP is seen as a major culprit - nearly 70 per cent of IME manufacturers believe their ERP system does not provide them with fast decision-making capabilities and the visibility across the extended enterprise. This is due to their current ERP system not offering collaborative or social networking-style features that increase productivity, entice new and creative thinking, and also because the ERP is too complex to integrate with other applications inside and outside of the organisation.
What is the role played by Infor to bridge this gap?
At Infor, we understand this pressing need for enterprises to react faster and provide the best and brightest in the organisation with tools they can use efficiently. We believe that with the market dynamics compelling businesses to strategise and react faster, there is a huge void across industries where smarter technologies can play an important role. Providing technology and defined business process solutions that are specialis to the industry can cater to these bigger requirements and objectives of the equipment industry as well. Hence, our tag line states `Specialised by Industry, Engineered for Speed'. Our approach reiterates our vision of providing customers with industry-specific software applications that require minimal modifications and meet the needs of our customers in their specific industries.
Could you tell us about the 'one size fits one' concept?
Actually, the ideology of æone size fits all' does not work. In recent times, the ERP scenario in India is witnessing rapid growth. A number of manufacturing firms, automotive, steel, oil, textile and pharmaceutical companies embracing ERP implementations have helped in the growth of these software solutions. Apart from the realisation of a software solution that stands as the backbone for Indian industries, ERP solutions are needed as businesses now need collaborated solutions that can essentially help them make better and faster decisions alongside changing customer choices.
Going beyond a one-size fits all model (which does not serve the customer well as they have to install software that is bloated with functions that they do not need and that takes too long to install) Infor have now evolved tailor-made, specialised versions that are industry-specific, easy to install and require no modifications.
Infor has an edge vis-a-vis competitors as we have specific software solutions across sectors of industrial manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, specialty vehicle, aerospace and defense, fashion, to name just a few. Building newer platforms and innovating better products with this strategic differentiator, Infor is all set to explore opportunities across a growing number of vertical industries around the world, including the equipment sector.
Tell us more about the tailored solution offerings from Infor.
Currently, Infor serves more than 7,000 industrial equipment and manufacturers to improve efficiency, profitability, and sustainability with solutions tailored to the needs of both discrete and process manufacturers.
Our specific offerings in the industrial manufacturing and equipment segment is Infor Industrial Manufacturing, a purpose-built solution suite featuring manufacturing best practices across key verticals and managing the complete manufacturing operation. Our specialised offering Infor M3 for equipment helps streamline key information from sales, service, warranty, finance, and rental departments within a single, central business system, helping reduce costs and data redundancies through a more efficient use of resources.
Our second offering is the Infor LN ERP solution which help our customers efficiently plan project costing, purchasing and production ( including the unique assembly control process) of all that is integral to service customers profitably. The product's ease and specialisation approach towards manufacturing issues are key to the selection success of the product.
To what extent is Infor innovative in its approach and offerings?
Innovation is at the heart of Infor's strategy (we invest around $350 m annually) which has helped the company transform businesses organically across the world with its mature approach of understanding the specific needs and offering solutions for the same. This has further enabled the brand to capture a significant niche as more and more brand associates are selecting Infor vis-a-vis its competitors. Infor's innovative offering is Intelligent Open Network i.e Infor ION which provides the connective fibre at the core of our suite architecture, using the power of the Cloud to help change the way clients work. With changing marketing dynamics, we are introducing better versions and platforms for our clients.
Brief us on the core strength of Infor.
Infor has a deep industry expertise and a longstanding history of working with equipment organisations across the globe; our strength lies in industrial manufacturing and equipment segment. A growing number of major CAT equipment dealers around the world are our customers. One of these customers is Banglacat who selected Infor because of the following benefits received:
Infor M3 for Equipment helped Banglacat provide better customer service through a real-time flow of information that captures and utilises valuable data at each point of the equipment lifecycle.
With defined workflows and alerts, they are able to manage the anamolies quickly and with assurance of resolution. And, with peak intelligence and service knowledge, Banglacat delivered even more value to its partners and customers.
Additionally, Banglacat is also taking advantage of the Infor for M3 Equipment system's use of Caterpillar-specific interfaces for automating service, parts ordering, parts shipment sales, and warranty.
Infor M3 for Equipment also supports the operational departments at Banglacat by allowing them to enter information directly into the system, automating financial entries for cost accounting and accounts payable, and reducing the need for the finance team to request data from other departments, which streamlines the process and keeps staff on task.
How do you assess the growth potential for ERP solutions?
According to the latest IDC Manufacturing Insights research, more than 60 per cent of equipment industry respondents feel that the IT systems they have in place are ineffective or inadequate to support current business challenges. Nearly 70 per cent of IME manufacturers believe their ERP system does not provide them with fast decision-making capabilities, so it is clear there is scope for improvement. These facts clearly state the gap in the industry where smarter technologies like Infor Industrial Manufacturing can play a vital role. The need of the hour is to address the comprehensive demands of manufacturers by helping them select appropriate technology solutions that are specialised, are flexible without possessing complex implementation cycles, and are acquainted to take faster decisions whilst adhering to compliance policies. While this is a huge industry challenge, at Infor we consider this as a great opportunity for us to contribute and further fuel the growth potential for ERP solutions in the construction equipment manufacturing industry.
We believe there are opportunities galore in the manufacturing segment, primarily due to two reasons:
Firstly, India as a market has some of the best industrial manufacturing brands due to its wider and complex market needs, availability of numerous R&D and manufacturing plant set-ups which require automated systems for their right go-to-market strategy. The technological innovations of Infor offering customised solutions can be the accelerator. Secondly, our competitors in the enterprise application space have created an environment of shipping incomplete software that requires extensive, expensive system integration work. We certainly want to exploit this opportunity as we concentrate on creating differentiation by providing specialised solutions catering to Indian market needs.
How do you assess the challenges facing Infor?
As key technology partner for our customers in the equipment industry, we can clearly state that there are three critical challenges that need immediate focus. According to a recent industry report, nearly 80 per cent of manufacturers and dealers want to sustain growth by selling more value-added services, and not product innovation.Attempting to create a competitive edge in difficult times, industrial machinery firms have endeavoured to provide their clients with product-lifecycle management, selling of re-manufactured products, offering repair, maintenance and overhaul services. In order to best fit the demanding requirements of customers with customer fulfilment, Infor as a company has outlined a strategic roadmap for its customers by bringing in significant technology innovations for the equipment sector.
What are Infor's India-specific strategies?
The current enterprise market in India is projected to grow by 13 per cent in 2012, accounting for a revenue share of $3.22B. Further, India's enterprise market is expected to maintain its strong performance, with an estimated CAGR of 13.6 per cent for the period from 2009-2016, and also expected to become the fourth largest enterprise software market in the APAC region.
Infor understands the fact that every market has a different need and approach and hence we design our solutions keeping in mind these aspects so that they are in the best interests of our customers across the globe. At Infor, special attention is given to identifying issues at the ground level as we understand each market has a different set of customer sentiment impacting the overall growth of an enterprise.
Infor has grown and evolved as a brand to establish its niche, even as it explores wider opportunities across sectors and geographies around the world. Exploiting the opportunities, over the last two years Infor revenues grew by 22 per cent in India, contributing to the country's growth story.
India now receives greater attention as it is considered one of the core countries for Infor; this means all product releases, field enablement and such will be done whenever a new product, technology or a new version of a product is released. Previously, India was a Phase-2-rollout country, so there used to be a time-lag before Indian customers could get access to what we are delivering.
Infor recognises the potential and scope for enterprise applications in growing markets especially with its micro-vertical focused approach, as a company works from a strategic roadmap.
As a brand, Infor has moved to steeper growth trajectories and evolved to bring in a modern look and feel that will help unify its brand vision, while reflecting the company's focus on fresh thinking and innovation.
Is cost a deterrent in the widespread implementation of ERP solutions in India?
Cost plays an important role for CIOs in the adoption of any technology solution in a market like India, and ERP is not any different. With a steeper trend of receiving cost-effective shorter application modules to helping SMB segment to receive economical software, software providers are trying to help enterprises in India fulfill their IT needs. This has led to the adoption of on-demand or software-as-a-service application, which has changed the game, emphasising the need to explore the areas of flexible deployment option as a service for customers.
Infor helps its customers by providing specialised industry applications designed according to the exact needs of vertical industries. These applications help cut costs, improve operational efficiency and make better decisions faster without the hassle of undergoing major implementations or requiring extensive customisations to the software. Combining the latest technological innovations with a 30-year manufacturing and distribution expertise, Infor solutions like Infor LN, offer the functional depth for many industries that can only be achieved through decades of use by over 70,000 customers in 164 countries.
This means the strong myth of enterprise software being expensive and needing customisations and never-ending implementations are now being replaced by easy-toinstall-and- use built- in applications which are economical and offer deep industry functionality. Infor helps customers access innovative new technologies that deliver a competitive advantage in a complex and changing world.
To what extent are Infor systems user-friendly?
Enterprise application softwares essentially are ugly, complex and often stringent when it comes to the changing environment, especially, the user interface (UI), which is how people interact with software.
While these factors remain intact, in everyday world increasingly dominated by real-time information, social media and the impact of user-friendly design, the time has come for upending the way business applications are written, designed and inserted. Infor understands this pressing need for organisations and is essentially changing the way information is consumed.
With innovation as its core objective, Infor now aims to bring a transformation in the look and feel of its enterprise application solutions. This has definitely led the company to heavily focus on research and development. In order to create a differentiation for itself and make software solutions that are flexible, compatible and absolutely the user's best friend, the company has gone to great lengths to be creative in its approach.
Hook & Loop, Infor's own creative unit, draws upon a wide array of talent, including designers, copywriters, filmmakers and developers. Formed with the mandate to create experiences people will love, Hook & Loop has put form and function together in an appealing way for Infor's new applications. Infor, with its appropriate strategies, is thus leading markets with an innovative approach of bringing beauty into software solutions.