Infor Trying Hard to Overtake Oracle, SAP in Cloud ERP

NEWS ANALYSIS: Infor claims that its cloud Enterprise Resource Planning business is growing faster than Oracle's or SAP's and it wants to grow even bigger.  

Infor Cloud ERP

NEW YORK—Infor is the big Enterprise Resource Planning application company you may not have heard of, and it likes it that way.

Like Avis, the No. 2 car renter to Hertz in the "We Try Harder" era, Infor is happy to tell everyone that despite trailing SAP and Oracle in business software revenue by a wide margin, it is growing faster, its products are better and its customers are more satisfied.

That spirit was on display here at the company's Inforum 2016 user conference, where Infor highlighted new customer wins, product developments and strategies around the cloud and user experience.

Privately held Infor, whose specialty actually may be buying ERP software firms more than anything else, announced its newest purchase, Starmount, which delivers software and services for retailers to engage with customers. This follows two other acquisitions since May, the ERP consulting firm Merit and retail demand forecasting software maker Predictix.

Another recent acquisition has resulted in the new Infor Commerce Cloud, a platform built around Infor’s CloudSuite applications and the global commerce and logistics network of GT Nexus, a 2015 acquisition. CEO Charles Phillips—a former Oracle president who took over at Infor in 2010—touted the Commerce Cloud’s ability to link buyers, sellers, financial institutions and logistic providers all in one place. "It is the Waze of global logistics," he said.

Phillips also discussed how much success the company is having with its bold all-in cloud strategy, which it introduced on Amazon Web Services two years ago. Sales in the cloud now make up 50 percent of Infor's revenue, up from 10 percent three years ago. Infor says that during that period it added 7,000 cloud customers, and, in its most recent fourth quarter announced in June, its cloud revenues grew about 35 percent.

Its cloud business is built around CloudSuite, which was announced at Infor’s last user conference, in New Orleans in 2014. CloudSuite is a collection of ERP applications that can run in the cloud and are tailored for specific industries, from aerospace and automotive to manufacturing and distribution as well as everything in between.

A key new customer, Travis Perkins, a £6 billion home improvement company based in the U.K., chose CloudSuite to help improve engagement with customers. "Every builder will have his own idiosyncrasies and we sell more than a million SKUs across the trades," said CEO John Carter. "Being able to personalize the experience is vital.”

Despite the number of Infor's products, Infor is using that user experience component to separate itself from its competitors. Many software companies have user experience and design teams.

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...