Infor | Redefining Enterprise Usage

Infor | Redefining Enterprise Usage

When Ferrari turns to a company for help in increasing production efficiency and flexibility, it doesn’t take much to figure out that the company in question has to be a unique innovator. The company in discussion here is Infor, a leading business application software provider. In order to get a deeper perspective on the company’s new approach towards information management, we caught up with Soma Somasundaram, Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Infor.

USER-INTERFACE – NEW APPROACH

Based on what Somasundaram told us, it’s quite obvious that Infor is bringing about fundamental changes to the way information is published and used in the enterprise arena. Of the 70,000 + customers worldwide across industries, automotive is an important business area for the $ 3 bn Infor. Not only does the company work with numerous OEMs, it also offers its services to 84 of the top 100 automotive suppliers globally.

The company doesn’t have a Swiss army knife approach towards applications, which works as a key differentiator, Somasundaram said. Hence, the applications it offers to the automotive sector would be different from that supplied to other sectors, and are not mere tweaks. “The Federal Bank of the US runs on our software, but that’s not the same as the one used by Ferrari”, he added.

Staying on the topic of uniqueness, Somasundaram said that the user experience of enterprise applications is quite boring in general. This is why people aren’t willing to use these services and hence fail to realise the true output potential. He added that these applications were primarily made with the aim of capturing data in order to automate the business processes. The present times, however, have changed and smartphones alone are capable of being used for conducting business in addition to laptops.

Infor, thus, has designed its software to be flexible instead of embedding all of the business intelligence into the screen. Loosely resembling a floating glass, Infor’s user experience allows for flowing in information that makes sense for a particular user at a given point of time. This also allows companies to build their own widgets without interfering with the main application. The key focus was to design an aesthetically pleasing application and the best way to do that was to invest in an internal design agency, said Somasundaram. He added that while there are many who make functional products, Infor wanted the experience to be pleasurable along with being functional. Moreover, in order to improve performance, Infor changed all of its user interface technology to HTML 5, which allows for usage on a mobile, laptop or desktop.

ferrari Infor

 

THE FERRARI STORY

Somasundaram tells the Ferrari story with great pride as it’s not for everyone that the opportunity to partner with Ferrari comes along. Ferrari has traditionally thrived on the business model of making less than demanded and making customers wait for their cars, leading to a stronger feeling of having a prized possession. In the recent past though, Ferrari realised that customers in growth markets such as China and Middle East weren’t willing to wait for a year to get their car. This meant Ferrari had to increase its production rate without making any compromises on quality.

While this sounds to be an easy task for a general carmaker, it was a tough one for Ferrari since every car made by them is unique due to the numerous cutomisation options available. The solution lied in making its production system more responsive and flexible, supported by equally dynamic business software. It was easy for Ferrari to work to a centralised IT policy being part of Fiat and adopt SAP. However, the Italian carmaker realised SAP couldn’t deliver the required results on all fronts.

After an extensive assessment, Ferrari decided to update its existing ERP (Baan IV) software to the latest Infor LN version. The project has been split into phases covering the industrial (sport car manufacture), Finance & Control, Spare parts and Grand Prix (Formula 1) divisions.

LN was a good match for the organisational and operational model of Ferrari as it provides flexibility and automotive industry specific functionality, in order to handle the complexity of infinite number of customisations. All this without compromising on either speed of information delivery or finished product quality was exactly what Ferrari needed. LN has the unique capability to build individual custom configured vehicles in sequence, yet maintain high operating line efficiencies and full sequencing with the supply chain. Other ERP solutions rely on multiple external sequencing and MES systems, which increase complexity, risk, errors and cost, said Somasundaram.

Giving Ferrari’s perspective of LN, Vittorio Boero, Chief Information Officer, Ferrari said, “Infor has enabled us to reduce the number of anomalies in the system, further allowing us to streamline the production process. Not only has Infor helped us increase production, but has also helped us establish better relationships between many business departments and IT.”

OUTLOOK

Based on Infor’s trend-setting approach towards technology in its domain, it continues to enjoy a good growth across the globe, including India. We were told that the last three years have been phenomenal in terms of growth percentage, especially the last one when Infor’s business in the country grew by more than 100 %. While the company doesn’t give country-wise sales figures, Somasundaram told us that Asia-Pacific is presently the highest growth market for the company and accounts for about 10 % to 11 % of total sales. This number is expected to grow to about 15 % in the next two years or so.

Text: Arpit Mahendra