Infor Global Reveals Product Roadmap

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INFORMATION: Free information is available from INFOR on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

Infor Global Solutions, a supplier of enterprise applications that has acquired 13 companies since its founding in 2002, today outlined its technology roadmap, saying that its large portfolio of software products would be subject to a new development and integration environment that will eventually produce a common user interface, database independence and the adoption of such industry standards as J2EE and Microsoft's .NET platform.

Infor, which now owns the products of such companies as Lilly Software and MAPICS, emphasized that its roadmap will not result in the company moving to one software platform. The idea behind the new development environment, which is called Corestone, is to enable acquired applications as well as new applications which Infor may develop to embrace a standards-based, open approach. Infor has already started to introduce Corestone, the first release of which was made in the second quarter of this year. The company envisions rolling out the environment through the fourth quarter of 2006.

The disclosure of Corestone was made at a briefing for press and industry analysts in this resort community. The briefing marked the first time Infor top management has met with these groups to discuss its strategy and current and future plans.

In addition to Corestone, Infor management made the following points:

* In its fiscal 2005 year ended May 30, Infor, which is a private company,
racked up $360 million in revenue. The company is projecting revenue of
$589 million in FY06 and $625 million in FY07.
* In the third quarter of 05, 41% of license revenue came from new
accounts. In the fourth quarter, it was 31% (this includes only six
weeks of the MAPICS acquisition). The company added 156 new customers in
the third quarter and 170 in the fourth quarter.
* Acquisitions going forward will focus on building out the company's
supply chain management functionality.

In a presentation, Tom Lynch, Infor chief technology officer and senior vice president of marketing, said the deliverables of Corestone include a universal client framework that will provide a common user interface, navigation method and messaging standards for all Infor products. The environment will also provide database independence and re-usable components.

"What we are doing is not easy," he said. "It's pretty hard."

Lynch cited as an example of work underway an iSeries ERP application called XPPS, which has been based on the RPG language, that has received a new client interface and MES functionality that was acquired.

He also said that the pace at which Corestone is applied to Infor products will be determined by individual Infor business units, which also have the responsibility to drive industry-specific functionality into products. The first release of Corestone includes such functions as a client, browser and data dictionary. Revisions in these and other capabilities will come in Release 3, which should extend into the third quarter of 2006. Release 3 will also include CoreITEM, a master data application. By the fourth calendar quarter of 2006, Release 4 of Corestone is expected to be available.

Customers at the meeting said they had already been exposed to the basic theory of Corestone and liked it. "I like the concept," said Craig Hergenroether, CIO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies. "I commend them for the vision. It's not unique in its approach, but I like it in a company like Infor that is acquiring products. If they are successful with it, there is a good chance they won't have to sunset any product lines."

In discussing Infor's basic strategy of focusing only on the manufacturing and distribution markets, assembling industry-specific products that can be delivered globally and innovating by investing in the long-term development of products, including ones it builds itself, Infor chairman and CEO Jim Schaper said the supply chain market was next on Infor's target list. "Our highest level of M&A will be in the supply chain area," he said. "We will continue to drill deeper into verticals in the supply chain." Infor currently offers demand management and warehouse management products.

Kevin Samuelson, senior vice president, mergers and acquisitions and integration, added that in the SCM market, Infor would be interested in such areas as planning and optimization, execution, after market parts management and possibly a more "industrial strength" warehouse management offering.

Schaper emphasized that Infor's business model is one of a vertically-focused "assembler" of software, not a consolidator, a term often seen in conjunction with much of the acquisition activity in the software industry. He said this focus is the key to understanding Infor's competitive differentiation, a position that reflects itself in Infor's acquisition strategy. "We are not going to do a horizontal deal," he added.

Schaper also said that a public offering was probably in Infor's future. "At our size, it's not a question of 'if,'" he said. "It's a question of 'when.'"

Industry analysts in attendance at the meeting praised Infor's business model and market position. "Their whole model is very sound," said David Caruso, senior vice president at AMR Research, Boston. "They have a bias toward action."

Mike Spragg, managing director, Infor global Solutions UK, said: We have settled our product future on J2EE and .NET.  Spragg explained that some customers already bought into Microsoft or brand new implementations will tend to gravitate towards .NET solutions, whereas large users with multi-site, multiplatform legacy architectures would choose J2EE to integrate their IT.

Spragg also said that Corestone will deliver a standardised look and feel to all Infor products and that existing users of such established technology as MAPICS XA will eventually benefit from Corestone. This approach should encourage customers to think big about their own business growth opportunities because Infor will be able to supply integrated IT tools to help them attain their potential.

This underscores Schapers view of the company being an assembler of solutions and not a consolidator, with Infor bringing together proven, quality solutions for customers wherever they are based and whatever their industry.

Spragg added that Infor is serious about taking the number one position in the midmarket and that company has gained significant new customers ranging from smaller specialist engineering companies to larger global organisations.

INFORMATION: Free information is available from INFOR on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

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