A lot of exciting news has come out of Inforum 2017, Infor's flagship customer event in New York City. Here are highlights.
Infor made its most significant product announcement since Infor CloudSuite in 2014, with the introduction of Coleman, an enterprise-grade, industry-specific artificial intelligence platform. Much like CloudSuite marked the first industry-specific ERP suites in the cloud, the introduction of powerful AI into business applications through Infor Coleman marks another milestone in the evolution of enterprise software.
"Infor spent many years automating processes that followed clear rules, such as accounting and manufacturing processes," said Infor CEO Charles Phillips. "We are now leveraging machine learning and our access to large amounts of data to assist users with less-structured processes such as complex decisions, conversations, and predictions."
A powerful, pervasive AI platform that operates under the surface of business applications, what users will like most about Coleman is how the AI also functions as a smart partner for their work. Coleman uses natural language processing and image recognition to chat, hear, talk, and recognize images to help people use technology more efficiently. By developing a conversational relationship with the user, Coleman enables the AI to become the user interface. McKinsey reported that 20% of the average work week is spent searching and gathering information. Imagine how much more productive people can be if they are able to delegate such tasks to artificial intelligence and focus instead on more valuable work. That's pretty incredible, and it barely scratches the surface of what Coleman can do to help us maximize human potential.
Coleman has been a long-term strategic play for Infor. In 2014, Infor Cloudsuite enabled Infor to access and analyze critical ERP data with the computing power of AWS, a hyper-scale public cloud. The next year Infor acquired GT Nexus, which developed a trade platform that enabled an entire business network to collaborate and share data, providing Infor access to the approximately 80% of business data that lies among an enterprise's suppliers, logistics providers, and finance partners. Last year, the company acquired Predictix, a maker of predictive software for retail. Predictix's work was so ground-breaking, the company spun off an internal group, called LogicBlox, to focus exclusively on machine learning. Earlier this year, Infor acquired Birst, whose innovative BI platform organizes, harmonizes, and cleanses data in a consistent format from across enterprise systems. These moves enabled the development of Coleman, which uses machine learning from LogicBlox to converse and make complex decisions with the business intelligence gleaned from the data in CloudSuite and the GT Nexus commerce network and harmonized by Birst.
Coleman was named in honor of Katherine Coleman Johnson, a physicist and mathematician whose critical calculations helped man reach the moon. Her story was recently depicted in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. She is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has a passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) - a passion that Infor shares. Infor's corporate social responsibility efforts, including the Education Alliance Program, endeavor to promote STEM education. Infor premiered a video tribute to Coleman Johnson during the General Session Tuesday.
Infor's other major development update is Networked CloudSuites, which extends Infor CloudSuite with core functionality from the GT Nexus commerce network. Networked CloudSuites enable Infor to offer functionality from the GT Nexus commerce network right out of the box in CloudSuite industry suites, increasing network-wide visibility, collaboration, efficiency, and responsiveness, and making an enterprise more agile and competitive.
Infor also announced an integration for Infor CRM with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which helps arm sales professionals with pertinent data to deliver more valuable customer interactions. The company also announced Infor Concierge, a self-service tool for customers that serves as a single portal for all touch-points with Infor.
Momentum and validation
Infor crossed a milestone in 2016, when the company first generated a majority of its new license and subscription revenue from cloud applications. Infor made several customer announcements that validate its momentum.
The most notable of these announcements concerns Koch Industries, which earlier this year purchased an interest of more than $2 billion in Infor. Koch, which employs more than 120,000 people and generates approximately $100 billion in revenue, will implement Infor CloudSuite for HR and financials.
According to Koch CFO Steve Feilmeier, "Koch invested in Infor not only because of its high-growth trajectory, but because of the transformative effect Infor applications can have in supporting expansion and growth at Koch Industries."
Infor also announced the selection of Birst, a company it acquired this spring, as the business intelligence platform for Zodiac Aerospace, an existing Infor ERP customer. Zodiac is a French aerospace giant with more than €5 billion in revenue and 35,000 employees. Infor expects to see continued momentum for Birst across its customer base as they realize the value that can be unlocked with industry-specific business intelligence.
HSBC also announced a new relationship with GT Nexus, which provides HSBC customers in the US access to the GT Nexus commerce network, which helps companies manage complex supply chain processes whilst simultaneously simplifying supplier financing.
Other announcements include the Infor Progress Makers Awards, which feature Lord Abbett in the Innovation category for predictive insights developed by Infor Dynamic Science Labs that boost customer service and open new revenue streams. Foot Locker was recognized for employee achievement using Infor Talent Science to reduce turnover and improve productivity. Infor Customer of the Year is Bank of America, recognized for its achievements using Infor HCM.
Infor also announced:
- A go-live of Infor M3 at Zahid Tractor, a massive Saudi Arabian equipment company
- An upgrade for Infor Public Sector at the city of Las Vegas
- Italian manufacturer Salvagnini Group will roll out elements of the Xi tech stack including Infor Ming.le, ION, and Document Management with its existing LN implementation.
The popular WIN Special Session drew a large audience again this year. The session was hosted by Infor COO Pam Murphy, who founded the Women's Infor Network three years ago. She welcomed five powerful and inspiring women who shared a collective message: set big goals, support each other, and never give in to naysayers. The speakers were:
- Susan Rice, former U.S. national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations
- Dr. Jill Biden, second lady of the United States (2009 - 2017), educator, and supporter of community colleges, military families, and women's and girls' education worldwide
- Farah Pandith, former special representative to Muslim communities for the U.S. Department of State
- Tan Le, inventor and pioneer in brain augmentation technology to optimize human performance
- Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code
Lastly, Infor announced the recipients of its partner awards from the annual Partner Summit.
Media coverage sampling
- eWeek — Business apps vendors are all in on artificial intelligence
- CXO Today — Cloud, emerging verticals driving growth for Infor
- Computer Business Review — Coleman, CloudSuites and Concierge - what you might have missed at Inforum 2017
- Enterprise Times — Infor reveals strategic intent
- ITWire — Infor's Birst acquisition is bursting forth
- diginomica — The push to CloudSuite Financials - how an Infor customer and partner passed their go-live test
Watch General Session replays