Report From the Road: Infor Innovation Summit

infor logoI was back on the road this week, at the Infor Innovation Summit held at their headquarters in New York City. This is a slightly different event for me as it includes analysts and topics outside HCM. This mix brings new thoughts and ideas, and invites discussion from multiple angles on how solutions come together into an overall offering. This multifaceted view is critical to how Infor is going to market today, and HCM is an increasingly important part of the value proposition. (Not that I could ever be biased about the importance of HCM…)

While Infor has many legacy on-premise solutions from its multiple acquisitions over the years (including SSA Global, Workbrain, Lawson, PeopleAnswers and SalesLogix to name just a few in the last decade), its vision for its cloud offering is based around its cloud suites, organized by verticals (retail, manufacturing, etc) and horizontals (HCM and CRM).

Each of these “bundles” starts with a core package of solutions that, based on Infor’s customer experience, is designed to “move mission critical processes into the cloud.” And of course, buyers can add on as many other modules as their hearts desire and their wallets can afford. Bundling vertical solutions isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but Infor prides itself on its ability to delve deep into micro verticals – not food and beverage, but brewing vs. dairy vs. ice cream.

The micro vertical strategy has been in place for a while now, but what was different in its positioning this year was the awareness of the value of combining “horizontal” data and processes like HCM with the verticals to truly maximize value. Infor is looking to science – and really the ability to analyze and make meaning out of disparate data sources – to help them unlock business results, through its value engineering team, its new science lab in Cambridge, Mass., and the Talent Science brought into the organization with the acquisition last year of assessment provider PeopleAnswers.

I have professed my fondness for assessments linked to business performance before, and the power of workforce analytics. Infor’s focus is further confirmation of the importance of bringing together HCM data with the rest of the organization’s data to draw real insights. On its roadmap are continued enhancements and tools that help people sift through this data and do their own discovery and reporting. This is an essential layer because most customers are integrating with some solution from another provider, and even Infor itself has solutions running on different platforms connected through their Ion middleware integration platform.

But as Infor’s executive team – CEO Charles Phillips, COO Pam Murphy, and Co-Presidents Duncan Angove and Stephan Scholl – shared with us, HCM solutions are one of the largest revenue line items — both on-premise and in the cloud–  for the company. And their ability to integrate assessment data, workforce management data, ERP and financial data is core to their value proposition of putting mission critical processes in the cloud to help organizations drive better execution and results.

There is still considerable work to be done – Infor has a huge product roster that must be sewn together to create their solution bundles, and the immense work of codifying process for all the micro-verticals they serve. But as I have long said, there can be no business plan without the talent and workforce plan behind it. And you can’t formulate, execute and measure that plan without a comprehensive view into integrated data. It will be exciting to see if Infor can expand its micro-vertical strategy to cover not only the deep process knowledge for unique industries, but also the kinds of questions and correlations that can move the dial on metrics that matter to a particular user. Going forward, their clients will expect not only data tools, but strong guidance on the right places to look for the most relevant insights.

Mollie Lombardi, VP and Principal Analyst,
Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group

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