acquisition

Oracle and NetSuite: Separate Fact from Speculation

Since last week when Oracle announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire NetSuite, I have been amazed at the volume of incorrect information and speculation and opinions thrown around as fact. Just this morning I read an article referencing the projected $9.3 billion transaction as the largest acquisition by Oracle since the Peoplesoft acquisition for $10.4 billion in 2014. Well… the author was only off by about a decade. Oracle announced the proposed merger in 2004 but the deal was not consummated until 2005. The article also stated that Oracle would run NetSuite as an independent company. That too is inaccurate. What Mark Hurd was quoted in the press release as saying was, “Oracle and NetSuite cloud applications are complementary, and will coexist in the marketplace forever. We intend to invest heavily in both products—engineering and distribution.” That is a far cry from saying the company would stay independent.

These are just a couple of examples. Many others are disclosing “the real reasons” for the acquisition as fact, when in fact these are just opinions and personal conclusions. I stayed silent because I never simply regurgitate a press release, and beyond the price of the offer and a few quotes by Oracle co-CEOs, NetSuite founder, CTO and chairman, Evan Goldberg and NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson, everything else is just speculation. NetSuite can’t talk about it and Oracle won’t. But with all the commentary, I feel compelled to remind my readers not to misinterpret opinions as fact.

I consider myself somewhat of a reluctant expert in M&A. During my 40+ year career I have survived 15 of them, sometimes as the acquirer, sometimes as the one acquired. Sometimes I was intimately involved in the details; other times I simply observed from the sidelines. Acquisitions often generate excitement, but also fear, uncertainty and doubt. Sometimes they go smoothly, but more often they are disruptive – to the companies involved, the individuals (employees) and even sometimes the market. In the end, they can be very unpredictable.

There are a few very common motivations for one company acquiring another:

  • Grab market share: Some companies would prefer to acquire new customers in blocks of hundreds or thousands, rather than closing them one by one. This can apply to grabbing more share of your existing market or entering a new one.
  • Fill a product and/or talent gap: It can be far easier to acquire functionality than to develop it yourself. This can make the company more competitive, provide cross-sell and up-sell opportunity, or both. But don’t assume there is any M&A pixie dust that will magically integrate products overnight.
  • Upgrade technology: Similar to filling a product gap, but at the foundational level. It is much easier to build a new product from scratch with newer technology (or acquire one) than to retrofit new technology into old products.
  • Eliminate a competitive threat: If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em.

So… what do I think is the motivation behind this acquisition? I think it is mostly about cloud market share. Of course, this is my opinion, but Larry Ellison’s stated goal of being the first company to reach $10 billion in cloud revenue is a pretty good hint. A secondary factor may very well be the cloud DNA, so to speak, that would come with a company and solution born in the cloud.

And there is no doubt in my mind that is the direction most prospective buyers are pointed in as well. I have been asking the same hypothetical question in my enterprise solution studies for the past 10 years: If you were to select a solution today, which deployment options would you consider? While back in the 2006-2007 time period less than 10% would even consider SaaS ERP (back then I called ERP the last bastion of resistance to SaaS), those preferences have slowly shifted. Between 2011 and 2013 the percentage that would even consider a traditional on-premise deployment dropped off a cliff and today SaaS is the most widely preferred option (Figure 1). And while Oracle was late getting out of the SaaS gate, NetSuite was a pioneer.

Figure 1: Deployment Options That Would be Considered for ERP

SaaS Fig 1Source: Mint Jutras Enterprise Solution Studies

But I also believe the other 3 reasons contribute to the attractiveness of NetSuite to Oracle.

Oracle probably already has all the different pieces that NetSuite brings to the table (and more), but NetSuite brings them all together in a seamlessly integrated, end-to-end solution. When I ask my survey respondents to stack rank 10 different selection criteria for ERP, fit and functionality still takes the top spot, but is followed closely by completeness of solution. This is particularly important for small to midsize businesses that don’t have deep pockets or the IT staff to roll their own solution or even integrate different parts. While Oracle does play in the SMB space, NetSuite plays better, as evidenced by some competitive wins against Oracle (usually in the upper midmarket). And it is built on a solid architecture of advanced technology.

So there is a lot on the plus side of the equation for Oracle. What’s in it for NetSuite? If you can believe Zach Nelson’s enthusiasm (his quote: “NetSuite will benefit from Oracle’s global scale and reach to accelerate the availability of our cloud solutions in more industries and more countries. We are excited to join Oracle and accelerate our pace of innovation.”), NetSuite will be able to expand its solution footprint and its global reach faster. Only time will tell on both aspects and a lot depends on how and how well the acquisition is executed and the companies are integrated.

While it is true that NetSuite never achieved a GAAP profit, that was heavily influenced by stock-based compensation and it did not really suffer from cash flow problems. As a result, it also didn’t suffer from a lack of innovation. And there is more overlap between products than some enthusiasts would lead you to believe.

And what about global scale? NetSuite could benefit from Oracle’s global reach. But integrating sales efforts might prove tricky. So the jury is still out on that front as well.

And then there is customer sentiment. Anecdotally, you can find NetSuite customers that made a conscious decision to avoid doing business with Oracle. When the acquisition actually happens, will that cause NetSuite customers to jump ship rather than become Oracle customers? My guess is no. ERP is just too big an investment (of time and money) to make such an emotional decision. Will there be some attrition over time? Probably. But again, a lot depends on how the acquisition is managed and the net impact on support, prices and contracts. NetSuite has never been the cheapest date, so there is not likely to be any immediate sticker shock.

All told, I think there are a lot more questions than answers right now. In the meantime keep your ear to the ground, but be wary of those who think they already have all the answers.

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Catching Up with Deltek’s Race to Capture the World of Projects

In November I got a chance to catch up with Deltek, a company that pretty much coined the term “project-based ERP.” It is a company that develops and delivers enterprise software and information solutions for project-based businesses. My last real interaction had been back in 2010 when the company acquired Maconomy. Since then a lot has happened. It has:

  • Expanded globally, led primarily by Maconomy’s strength in Europe
  • Acquired Acumen and its set of tools to facilitate project planning, along with performance risk analysis
  • Moved three of its products to the cloud: Vision and Maconomy (although both are still available on-premise), and most recently Costpoint
  • Almost doubled in size and has gone private
  • Acquired Sohnar and its Traffic LIVE cloud-based resource planning solution for creative marketing communications agencies
  • Acquired Axium, bringing A&E solutions to smaller, non-government organizations
  • Gone mobile with Maconomy Touch
  • Gone social with Kona project collaboration tools
  • Introduced a new user experience including Maconomy Navigator
  • Launched a new, cloud-based next generation CRM to power the front office of project-based businesses

All these activities bode well for Deltek to continue its growth, bolstered by what Mint Jutras sees as tremendous opportunity for project-oriented software. The Mint Jutras 2014 ERP Solution Study captured the “top five” areas survey respondents were most likely to invest in next. Project Management ranked #1 overall with 22% of almost 800 respondents selecting project management.

But it is project-based businesses that present the most opportunity for Deltek. These project-based businesses span a wide range of industries, from project-based manufacturing like aerospace and defense (A&D), to architectural and engineering (A&E) firms, to professional services organizations (PSO) to marketing communications agencies. While these businesses all share a common thread of projects, they are actually very different types of businesses. And Deltek has different products to address each.

As Deltek continues to grow, expanding both geographically and also stretching the boundaries of its solutions, the trick will be to effectively scale its business. Each of its products addresses a different type of project-based business, so product road maps need to be tailored to individual industry needs. At the same time Deltek would be well advised to leverage certain tools such as Kona and CRM across multiple product lines to better leverage its development efforts across different product lines and different segments of its customer base.

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Infor Acquires PeopleAnswers: New Twist to Continuing Trend in ERP and HCM

Big Data, Predictive Talent Analytics Drive Performance

On January 8, 2014, Infor announced it had acquired PeopleAnswers,  a pioneer in cloud-based predictive talent analytics. This continues a trend of large Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) vendor acquisitions in the realm of performance management and recruiting. But unlike other acquisitions, this one adds quite a unique new value proposition to its broadening footprint of Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions. Its software as a service (SaaS) talent analytics capabilities add a measure of data-driven behavioral science to an otherwise “soft” discipline.

Adding Talent Management to ERP

For decades in the world of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), human resource management (HRM) was little more than an afterthought. For many years, the perceived requirements were rudimentary at best and Human Resource Management modules often were just repositories for employee data. They didn’t really manage anything. ERP continued to expand functionality around the transactional system of record of the business. And apart from payroll transactions, which might or might not be included in the HR landscape, HCM really didn’t involve the transactions that fueled trade. Integration didn’t have to be “tight,” leaving a world of opportunity for separate add-on applications.

A Developing Market

This left plenty of room in the market for a lot of smaller HR specialists to seize the opportunity and grab a niche. The overall software category of HRM became broader, turning into human capital management (HCM) and several different “specialty” categories emerged: talent management, including recruiting, performance management (reviews), incentive compensation, as well as skills development and learning, workforce planning and analytics and time tracking. Sometimes payroll was included, sometimes not.

The number of players in the market proliferated.  Because few took the full suite approach, new HCM software vendors could grasp a foothold and gain traction even with a relatively small footprint.  The success of these new vendors proved to the market just how big the demand was (and is) for this type of software.

Customers and ERP Vendors Respond

Today, not only are customers more demanding and less willing to subject employees to the hassle and confusion of multiple systems, but also the big ERP players are no longer content to leave that opportunity on the table. The result: A big round of consolidation has begun. The year 2012 saw SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors and Oracle’s acquisition of Taleo. Last year NetSuite announced its intention to acquire TribeHR. All three of these are cloud-based, software as a service (SaaS) solutions in the talent management arena. So Infor’s announcement was the fourth major ERP vendor to announce an acquisition of a talent management solution, and a cloud-based one as well.

This is not Infor’s first venture into the realm of HCM however. It already has quite a comprehensive offering across the HCM landscape, offered either on-premise or SaaS. Its acquisition of Lawson back in 2011 was a major step forward, particularly in satisfying the human capital needs of certain industries, including healthcare, retail and hospitality. Coincidentally, all three of these industries are human capital-intensive. It later rounded out its offering with its acquisition of CertPoint, which filled an important gap in learning management. Now it is seeking further differentiation through PeopleAnswers’ decade-long investment in “big data” and its unique approach of including behavioral science.

How is PeopleAnswers Unique?

Some areas of HCM categories might struggle to produce hard data that supports evidence of return on investment (ROI). After all human resource management is a relatively “soft” discipline. Manufacturing can accurately produce hard measurements such as production output, lead times, and quality metrics. Sales can measure bookings and revenue against quota. Marketing can count leads captured and converted. Finance can measure discounts lost, days sales outstanding, earnings and profits. But capturing human capital metrics related to performance and employee engagement are indeed softer and harder to measure.

Yet the metric PeopleAnswers attacks most directly is much more firm and definitive. Although its product can legitimately be characterized as both performance management (employee assessments) and recruiting, the real metric that drives ROI is turnover. The premise: By accurately assessing the performance of individuals, you improve your ability to hire the right people. By hiring the right people you improve overall performance and retention. Customers routinely report reduction in turnover by 40%, and even higher returns in reducing involuntary turnover.

How does it do that?

PeopleAnswers uses a data-driven scientific approach to objectively tie individualized performance metrics to the key behaviors of its customers’ best employees. This is not a fluffy, feel-good approach to performance management, but patent-pending scientific research. PeopleAnswers has a science team, including 10 individuals with PhDs in behavioral science.

Through its research, this team has determined that skills alone are not predictive of the future performance of a new hire. The team developed a list of 39 attributes that correlate most directly with performance, including ambition, discipline, energy, acceptance of authority, attention to detail, flexibility, conscientiousness, and empathy. Good hiring managers have been subjectively evaluating these traits for decades. PeopleAnswers takes the subjectivity out and puts consistency in.

The implementation process starts by developing customized Performance Profiles™ from employee assessments, focusing specifically on characteristics and behaviors of top performers and weighting the 39 attributes differently for different jobs and perhaps even geographies. These Performance Profiles become the benchmark for selection, development, and succession planning.

Candidates are required to fill out a questionnaire uniquely tailored to the company and the position. This is used to construct what PeopleAnswers calls the Behavioral DNA™ of the candidate. It then compares that against the Performance Profiles of top performers and “scores” the candidates to help identify future superstars.

PeopleAnswers is also unique in how it charges for its service. It is not unusual to charge on a per-use basis (per assessment and/or per applicant) in this category of software, and PeopleAnswers certainly can accurately measure this. However it prefers to eliminate any excuse for delaying, reducing, or skipping the assessment process in order to save money. To get the most value from the solution, you need to assess every employee and every candidate that applies for a job.  So PeopleAnswers doesn’t charge based on the number of assessments but rather a flat, all-inclusive fixed fee that includes unlimited assessments.

Data Needed

This eliminates any (valid) excuse for not entering an assessment and makes the calculation of ROI that much easier. Of course any customer needs to start the implementation with some clear baseline metrics. Figure out your current turnover and estimate the cost of losing an employee. This might be different for voluntary and involuntary turnover, but even a single estimate will provide a good starting point. From these two numbers you can figure out what turnover is costing you today. If you, like other PeopleAnswers customers, can reduce turnover by 40%, the software will probably pay for itself pretty quickly.

But apart from simplifying the math, providing incentives to collect as much data as possible only makes sense. This is particularly important since without data, the model is useless. In fact without a lot of data, it would seem the model is useless. The more employees you have, the more recruiting you do for the same or similar positions, the more value can be derived directly from the tool. So this may not have the same value proposition for small companies, as it will for large companies. And human capital-intensive industries will benefit more. So a small manufacturer operating in a highly automated plant might not gain the same ROI as perhaps a large healthcare facility staffed with hundreds of nurses, or a retail environment with thousands of in-store personnel.

Who Will Benefit?

Infor’s installed base of customers includes all of these different profiles. At the time of the announcement, Infor and PeopleAnswers have 80 joint customers. About 70% of this customer overlap is from prior Lawson customers, which are most likely to fit the “human capital-intensive” bill. So that will be the first order of business as Infor starts the integration process. The goal is to deeply integrate the PeopleAnswers’ Behavioral DNA into the current Infor Talent Management suite, starting with the Lawson product. If the Lawson acquisition is an indicator of success, this first wave of integration should take about 120 days. Note, this time frame is the current plan and is reflective of past performance, but many factors can impact development plans. So this should not be interpreted as a hard commitment. The timing of future releases and Infor’s development plans remain at the sole discretion of Infor.

This effort will also include bringing Infor 10x enabling technology to the PeopleAnswers products, including Infor ION (light weight middleware), Infor Ming.le (a centralized platform for social collaboration, business process improvement, and contextual analytics) and Infor Motion (mobility).

At the same time, it will be making the Infor Enwisen HR Service Delivery platform more “behavioral.” Infor will then move on to integrating PeopleAnswers to the Infinium product line.

What Does the Future Hold?

While this new addition to the Infor family of products may not be uniformly applicable to its entire installed base of 70,000 customers, it certainly adds clear and measurable value to the subset that operates in human capital-intensive industries where making the right (or wrong) hiring decisions can make (or break) a company. But the potential value might not stop there.

Acquisitive companies typically look to improving bottom line performance by eliminating redundancies between the merged companies. This is an effective approach when those redundancies are limited to back office administration. But when staff reductions start to hit the development team, it can become counter-productive. Infor recognizes this and tends to not only protect the acquired development staff, but also add to it.

The first order of business after the acquisition is completed will be to integrate PeopleAnswers with selected Infor products (Lawson S3). Infor intends to preserve the PeopleAnswers team in order to expedite this. But at the same time it will bring Infor10x technology to the PeopleAnswers product. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Infor will actually add development staff to do this. While at other acquisitive companies an acquisition may trigger layoffs, at Infor it is just as likely to trigger hiring.

As big data and analytics continue to make their way to the forefront of employee and business performance management, it will be interesting to see what other results the addition of a “science team” can produce at Infor. And as the combined Infor and PeopleAnswers teams start to work more cooperatively together, who knows what other value behavioral science can bring to a whole host of other activities beyond recruiting.

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NetSuite Jumps on the Cloud HCM Bandwagon with TribeHR

Last month NetSuite announced its intention to acquire TribeHR, a cloud-based provider of an integrated suite of human capital management (HCM) solutions. HCM solutions are pretty “hot” these days and cloud-based HCM is even hotter. Some make the mistake of thinking interest (and growth) in the HCM market is a very recent phenomenon.  SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors and Oracle’s acquisition of Taleo (both cloud-based, by the way) only served to fuel that assumption. After all, if the “big guys” are jumping in, it must be the next “big thing.” Right? Yes and no.

Obviously HCM is “big” right now, but that didn’t happen overnight. I have been following HCM solutions since 2006, some years more closely than others. I actually think this HCM market started heating up back in the 2005 – 2006 timeframe. But it wasn’t the big guys that were making it happen. Instead, a lot of smaller HCM specialists saw the opportunity and jumped in. Most grabbed a niche – talent management, recruiting, performance management (reviews), incentive compensation or just plain HRIS. Very few took the full suite approach and that left the market with lots of players, but very fragmented.

In the early stages of this market growth, human resource management was still an afterthought in the world of ERP. For many years, the perceived requirements were rudimentary at best and Human Resource Management modules often were just repositories for employee data. They didn’t really manage anything. So what changed?

I believe there are three different forces converging here.

  1. The work force has changed
  2. All these smaller players demonstrated there was a real demand
  3. ERP vendors are more aggressive about expanding their footprints

The Changing Workforce

The workforce has actually been changing quite dramatically (at the very least) for the past two decades.  The combination of automation and outsourcing to countries where labor is cheap has resulted in the blue-collar and hourly workforce shrinking enormously. When the work force was made up largely of these types of roles, nobody really worried about “employee engagement” or managing an inventory of skills. Employees were hired for a particular job that might or might not require special skills. Companies advertised job openings, even for salaried workers. Potential employees filled out applications on paper and resumes came through the mail. Benefits came in standard packages where one size fit all, whether they really fit or not. There was no “self-service.” Reviews were paper-based and recognition might (or might not) come with a length of service award announced at the company Christmas party.

We live in a very different work world today where the hourly worker has largely been replaced with the knowledge worker. When companies today say, “Our employees are our greatest asset” they really mean it. The way we recruit and hire is different. No place is the “social” aspect more prevalent than in managing human capital.

The Demand for Solutions is Real

The proliferation of smaller HCM vendors has proven there is a real demand for solutions to help manage this changing workforce. Until these vendors came on the market with solutions for everything from applicant tracking to hiring and onboarding to managing performance, benefits and incentive compensation, human resource professionals managed with paper and spreadsheets. Of course some, particularly in smaller companies, still do. But that only serves to increase the market potential and the cloud helps make these solutions much more affordable for smaller companies.

Even these smaller HCM niche vendors have tended to focus their efforts on larger companies, always measured by numbers of employees. As ERP vendors that serve small and medium size businesses bring these options to their existing customers, that could change very dramatically and market growth could accelerate even more quickly.

The Expanding Footprint of ERP

I have been saying for the past few years that the footprint of ERP has expanded to the point where it is getting more and more difficult to tell where ERP ends and other applications begin. This obviously is by the design of the ERP vendors. An ERP vendor can grow in several ways. Obviously it can grow by acquiring new customers (e.g. one ERP swallowing up another). It can grow by selling one new customer at a time. And it can grow by increasing its share of its customer’s wallet. This means cross-selling and up-selling existing customers. And an ERP vendor can either develop its own solutions to sell to existing customers, or it can acquire them. Most growing ERP vendors today will combine these growth strategies.

In this case, NetSuite has chosen the shorter route to market by acquiring a suite of HCM solutions. With such an acquisition I always caution customers and potential customers of the vendors to look closely at integration. Just because a vendor acquires a complementary solution doesn’t mean that solution is integrated and if not, there may be no additional value delivered than was available prior to the acquisition. In the case of NetSuite’s acquisition of TribeHR this is not a concern.

Earlier this year TribeHR joined NetSuite’s SuiteCloud Developer Network (SDN) and has already created TribeHR SuiteApp, integrating the two solutions. The integrated solution is already available on NetSuite’s Marketplace. Joint customers have the added advantage of a pre-configured and integrated solution. Start the recruiting process in TribeHR and when you make the hire, it also sets up and automatically provisions the employee in NetSuite’s ERP. Yes, there is some redundancy but the transfer is “touch-less” and the data is synchronized in real-time. So far, about 30 out of the 450 TribeHR customers are also NetSuite customers.

The Opportunity

So where is the opportunity for growth in merging the two companies? It seems the biggest opportunity will be in up-selling the NetSuite installed base. Those NetSuite customers already running NetSuite Payroll have the highest probability of also wanting to buy HCM, but there are only about 100 of them, all US based. TribeHR is already deployed in more than 50 countries, but NetSuite’s Payroll supports US businesses only. But there should also be added opportunity for those small to mid-size businesses that have not yet invested in an HCM suite or even any HCM solutions. For the large enterprise, NetSuite will continue to partner with Oracle with Oracle HCM at the corporate level. But TribeHR might also be a viable alternative for two-tier deployments in smaller subsidiaries or divisions.

It is much more likely an existing NetSuite customer will extend its ERP solution with HCM than it will for a TribeHR customer to purchase an ERP, unless of course a new purchase of ERP was in the cards already.  According to Mark Gally, previously Chief Revenue Officer at TribeHR and now HCM, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at NetSuite and ric Gerstein, Sr. Business Development Manager, HCM at NetSuite, TribeHR will continue to be sold as a stand-alone solution. The real question will be whether the NetSuite brand will help or hurt in that sale.

NetSuite Poised to Compete

The bottom line: this acquisition positions NetSuite to compete in the expanded ERP market, where prospects are looking for their ERP vendor to satisfy are larger percentage of their enterprise needs. Because managing human capital is becoming more critical to the continued success and to market differentiation, this category has become more important and will likely continue to gain in importance. Those ERP vendors that can’t fill this need will be at a competitive disadvantage.  Acquiring a suite of HCM solutions is the fastest time to market and with all the recent acquisitions, the candidates for acquisition are shrinking quite quickly. Fortunately for NetSuite, it made its move with what appears to be an excellent choice, while the market is hot.

 

 

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NetSuite Acquires OrderMotion: Bringing Omni-Channel Products and Expertise

Earlier this week NetSuite announced its latest acquisition: OrderMotion, Inc., a provider of cloud-based Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) order management solutions. The acquired company is located in Burlington, MA. NetSuite’s go-to-market strategy is to take a suite-based approach, providing an end-to-end solution, which addresses the full quote-to-cash life cycle. The customer order is at the very core of this process and therefore the SaaS ERP company has always carefully guarded any function that touches the order. No alliances or marketing partners here. When it comes to customer orders, NetSuite wants to own the functionality.  In this regard, an acquisition makes perfect sense. But given OrderMotion is not embedded in the suite and NetSuite already fancies itself as having an industry-leading order management system, what value does it hope to gain from this addition?

NetSuite is buying OrderMotion for its expertise as well as its products. OrderMotion’s products are typically sold stand-alone and that will continue. The target is not current NetSuite customers. So this is more a market share play than it is one that goes after an increased share of the customer’s wallet. NetSuite intends to continue selling the OrderMotion product but it also hopes to apply some very specific expertise to further strengthen its own current order management capabilities. The OrderMotion engineering team will continue to innovate the acquired product but NetSuite also hopes to have them contribute to the order management modules of its ERP suite.

NetSuite already has a strong order management solution with capabilities that include distributed order management, fulfillment from multiple locations and return merchandise authorization (RMA) as well as strong back-office integration with billing and cash collection. It provides standard integration to major carriers like United Parcel Service (UPS), Federal Expres (FedEx) and the United States Postal Service (USPS). It can deal with multiple currencies and multiple sales and use tax structures. OrderMotion will add more depth of functionality in orders “direct” from the consumer and trends in the industry towards omni-channel commerce.

Omni-channel refers to the ability to use different channels simultaneously. Consumers might purchase online, but pick up, or return merchandise at a physical store. Retailers may use retail stores as distribution hubs. As consumers make online purchases, it may be advantageous to ship from a store location where the item may be overstocked, thereby drawing down surplus inventory. Or the choice of ship from location may be made to minimize cost and lead-time. Combining all these options requires a level of expertise and feature functionality not typically included in your traditional ERP software suite.

This is definitely an issue for retailers today. But more and more manufacturers and distributors find themselves also selling direct now, so it is just a matter of time before they need to deal with omni-channel supply chain issues as well.

In continuing to sell OrderMotion stand-alone, I would expect the acquisition to be accretive. But behind the scenes I would also expect to see the OrderMotion team lending a hand to further extend distributed order management and omni-channel supply chain capabilities in NetSuite’s ERP suite. Both solutions have a strong technical architecture that supports multi-tenant SaaS, so business models are consistent. But they are different architectures. While I don’t expect them to be sharing code, I would expect them to share designs.

NetSuite ERP will benefit from the expertise of a team dedicated exclusively to order management, one that has specific omni-channel expertise. OrderMotion engineers should also benefit from having to blend this functionality into an integrated suite, something they have only done at arm’s length previously.

Overall NetSuite winds up with a new product and a better way to attack the retail market that is already forced to deal with this omni-channel phenomenon. And it has the opportunity to further strengthen its existing product as the omni-channel commerce begins to invade the world of manufacturing and distribution.

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Infor’s Inforum 2013: Building Momentum; Going Faster

Like any conscientious industry analyst that attends a big event, I always feel compelled to write and share something about what I heard. But when the event is an enterprise software vendor’s customer conference, it’s not always easy to come up with something really compelling. More often than not, a quick blog post or news article is really sufficient to sum things up. But that’s not the kind of “stuff” I like to write. I prefer something that requires some analysis that leads to conclusions I can support with data I have collected through my research.

About a year ago, returning home from Inforum 2012, I struggled with this. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of announcements. Honestly, there were no less than 21 different press releases talking about everything from the reinvention of the company under its new leadership to numerous technology and product announcements. But mostly these announcements were about strategy and what this new leadership was planning for a company that was obviously changing dramatically. The theme of the conference was “Go Faster” but it was clear that while Infor was out of the starting blocks, it was still very early in the race.

Now, a year later, in leaving Inforum 2013, let me just say, finding something compelling to write about is definitely not a problem. Having hired 650 new developers, not only is Infor “going faster,” it has already completed a few races.

This year there were at least 25 different announcements and that didn’t even include the surprise proposed acquisition of TDCI (product configuration). Announcements emphasized a continued focus by Infor on not just verticals, but micro-verticals, and the new release of Infor 10x. Announcements were sprinkled with a little cloud and a big dose of technology in the form of industry-specific use cases for its “purpose-built” middleware ION technology.

Because I prefer to have any one paper, report or post to be “about” a single topic, the problem this year will be prioritizing what I write. To give you a preview of what’s to come and some highlights from Inforum 2013, here’s what’s on the table:

  • Loosely Coupled Versus Tightly Integrated: The Infor Perspective I recently  did a post that referenced Infor briefly, but was more about SAP’s introduction of Financials OnDemand. It posed the question, “Why should CFOs care?” It’s time to give Infor its turn in the spotlight to dive deeper into Infor’s overall strategy.
  • Is “Convergence” a Dirty Word? Any solution provider that has grown largely by acquisition (as Infor has) must make a decision as to whether or not to rationalize its product portfolio. Thus far Infor has very consciously and conscientiously avoided a convergence strategy, promising not to discontinue support of products and to never force customers to migrate to new solutions. But when you have customers continuing to run on systems based on seriously outdated technology, does this do them a disservice?  In these cases, even a slight shift in strategy can make a huge difference in encouraging these customers to move forward. I’m sensing this shift in pockets of Infor even as it still insists on “no convergence.”
  • Collaboration is Key: Helping Employees Ming.le Ming.le (pronounced mingle) is Infor’s new platform for enterprise collaboration, which it describes with minimal use of the word “social.” I find that refreshing. Designed primarily with the Gen-Y folks in mind, it uses a lot of the concepts and approaches popularized by social media. But by describing it more in the context of triggering alerts and helping those receiving the alerts come to a resolution quickly, it makes it much more “real” even for baby boomers who might not intuitively see how those types of tools can save them time and effort.
  • Introducing Infor Sky Vault: Infor’s answer to big data? You can’t pick up a trade journal today without being confronted with the concept of big data. We “get” it. The volume of data we deal with for decision-making has been growing for decades. Now it is growing exponentially. Not only are there limitations inherent in traditional databases, but more and more data is floating out on the Internet that is not even captured in a structured database. Solutions are emerging to break down those barriers and Infor’s Sky Vault is one of them: a cloud-optimized data repository powered by Amazon Redshift, available through Amazon Web Services (AWS) at a very reasonable price. Because of the traditional difficulty in dealing with massive volumes of data, business decision-makers have essentially learned to “do without.” Now they have to learn about what is possible. Infor’s job now is to help them, as Infor’s James Willey puts it, “see the vision.”
  • Microverticals: Will they save the day or become an enormous burden? The message at Inforum was clear. Forget a vertical focus. Infor is all about micro-verticals. Think dairies, breweries, meat packagers or bakers versus “food and beverage.” The ultimate goal of attacking a micro-vertical is to offer a more customized solution, without customization.  That’s the upside. The downside is the sheer volume of micro-verticals and the burden this places on Infor. Obviously the answer lies not in having entirely different solutions for each micro-vertical. The only way Infor will survive and thrive in this environment is through the effective use of its “purpose-built” middleware (ION) that will allow them to develop components of functionality once and re-use. So how does this work?

I could go on and list more possible topics of discussion resulting from all the different technology, product, acquisition and customer announcements. But I think this is a good start. What do you think? What would you like to hear most about?

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UK Government Embraces Growing Trends with UNIT4 Partner in Replacing ERP

On March 1, 2013, arvato, a business process outsourcing (BPO) partner of UNIT4, announced that it had secured a contract to operate a shared service center on behalf of the UK Government. As part of the deal, arvato acquired the Department for Transport (DfT) Shared Service Centre in Swansea, South Wales and will provide back office services in a seven-year contract, with an optional three-year extension. The goal is to deliver better services and greater cost savings.

Indeed, in its “Next Generation Shared Services – The Strategic Plan” the government includes the following as one of its key objectives:

“To ensure that a lower cost Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution is available as part of the ISSC solutions, to reduce the cost of the current ERP solutions, and to remove the barriers to entry for smaller departments and ALBs by reducing software and maintenance costs through consolidation. Without the provision of single ERP systems and therefore single processes the Government will struggle to reach its upper quartile efficiency targets and therefore testing this will be an early part of the programme.”

So as part of the deal, the UK government gets a new ERP. Arvato will replace the existing SAP solution with the cloud-based Agresso Central Government ERP platform in a phased migration. Interest in cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) has definitely been on the rise over the past few years. And so has interest in replacing existing ERP solutions.

In 2012 Mint Jutras posed the question, “Is it time to purchase a new ERP?” Based on data collected in the second half of 2011, only one in four of you said, “Yes!” Another 24% were undecided but over half (51%) gave us a resounding, “No.” We explored the possible reasons for replacing existing solutions. We shared with you the average and “World Class” results that could be achieved, suggesting that those of you not in the market for a new ERP might want to reconsider. New technology and robust feature functionality available today will put older solutions to shame and you might be missing out and missing out big time.

Many listened. The percentage of those looking to purchase a new solution more than doubled in our latest survey. In our most recent 2013 ERP survey, when we asked the same question, many more (56% to be exact) said, “Yes, we intend to purchase a new ERP within the next 3 years.” Twenty percent (20%) are still on the fence but only 24% said, “No.”

Lack of functionality, outdated technology and the inability to scale with growth of the business have traditionally been the top three reasons prompting actual replacements and this year was no different.  In terms of potential replacements: functionality and technology also claim the top two spots, but the possibility of reducing the overall total cost of ownership through a replacement appeared as a significant driving force, along with the emergence of standards being applied across the enterprise. Compared with the quest for fit, functionality and enabling technology these are relatively new motivations, but a motivation indeed for the UK government.

How does spending time, effort and money on a new solution result in savings? Given the scope, replacing ERP will typically require cost justification in order to estimate the expected return on the investment. But return on investment (ROI) is different than total cost of ownership (TCO), particularly in terms of enterprise applications. ROI calculations often only include up-front costs.

Harder to calculate are the post-implementation costs in managing change. And managing change remains as the top challenge identified in achieving the goals of ERP. ERP solutions based on outdated technology are likely to be rigid, making adapting to change expensive. Architectural agility to accommodate change is important to everyone but for ERP buyers faced with frequent or massive changes, it is absolutely essential.

UNIT4’s solution is a quite natural fit in this case. UNIT4 actively seeks ERP buyers faced with frequent or massive changes, or those it refers to as “Businesses Living IN Change (BLINC).” It prides itself in the solution’s ability to easily adapt to business change. This should be important to the UK Government for two very different reasons…

The public sector is not immune to business change. In fact it faces more than its share of changing regulatory requirements, financial management-driven change, as well as the need for new or changed business processes.

The second reason is that the DfT is only the first of several departments to be supported. Other departments will likely present new, previously unanticipated requirements. This represents additional change, but also requires flexibility if the ERP is to become the standard across these different departments.

Two very good reasons for selecting a solution that specializes in post-implementation agility.

 

 

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CDC Ross + Consona = Aptean

An Update

I had a chance yesterday to catch up on Aptean, the new company formed when Vista Equity Partners bought and merged Consona and CDC Ross. I consider myself a bit of an expert in acquisitions, having survived 15 of them myself over my career, 14 of which happened while I worked on the “other side of the fence.” Before I became an industry analyst and researcher, I spent over 30 years working for software companies, predominantly ERP solution providers. The 15th (and last) came about 6 months after I became an analyst, when Aberdeen was bought by Harte-Hanks. As a result, I saw acquisitions from different angles; sometimes I worked for the acquiring company, sometimes for the company being acquired. For some I was intimately involved, for others just peripherally. Sometimes after an acquisition, life goes on and nothing much changes.  In other instances there are massive changes, some good and some painful. As Vista Equity partners merges these two companies, I expect there will be many changes.

Background

Consona itself is a product of acquisitions. Founded in 2003 (originally as Made2Manage) and backed by Battery Ventures VI LP and Thoma Bravo LLC, the company acquired nine different ERP solutions. Six of these were in rapid succession from December 2005 to July 2006. Apart from ERP, Consona also acquired Onyx (CRM) and Knova (Knowledge Management). This buying spree culminated in its most recent acquisition of Compiere in June 2010. Remarkably though, there was very little overlap in markets for all these acquired products.

CEO Jeff Tognoni’s trademark moves were evident throughout. Some of these companies had been publicly traded, but each acquisition resulted in the companies becoming privately held, each operated as a separate business unit and acquired brands were preserved. Most of the acquired products served very clearly defined niche markets. The acquisition of Intuitive in July 2006 is the exception and produced the largest overlap in markets. Intuitive and the original Made2Manage products can both be considered horizontal ERP solutions, although Intuitive has largely been sold into electronics and high tech manufacturers while Made2Manage does a better job of addressing the needs of “to order” environments.

Compiere paved the way for Consona to enter the world of enterprise-class, cloud-based business solutions while also leveraging its distribution market capabilities. Compiere is also unique within the Consona portfolio in that it uses a reference architecture for cloud computing based on open source tools, which admittedly have been better received in Europe than in the Americas or Asia Pacific. It is by far the most technologically advanced Consona product from an architectural standpoint, but it is still a relatively new product, which does not have the depth and breadth of functionality of its siblings in the portfolio.

CDC also sells and supports a portfolio of products, but only one ERP solution: CDC Ross, acquired from Ross Systems in 2004. Yet there is little overlap with the Consona products since Ross exclusively serves process (versus discrete) manufacturers and is strong in food and beverage, a sector that Consona never addressed. And CDC also brings a manufacturing execution system (CDC Factory MOM) to the party, something Consona has never offered.

There will however be significant overlap on the CRM side of the house. Pivotal (acquired by CDC) and Onyx (acquired by Consona) compete directly, although Knova (acquired by Consona) serves a different need in the market for knowledge management and is therefore complementary.

Moving Forward

The end result of this merger is Aptean, a company that now has 32 products in its portfolio. So what impact does this have on the different product lines and what does this merger mean to its customers?  Aptean seems not to have any plans, at least on the ERP side, to converge these products. By convergence I mean taking the features and functions of several products and combining them into a single go-forward solution. Aptean feels its strength lies in being able to satisfy the needs of those niche markets without adding in a lot of complexity that inherently results from adding diverse industry-specific features to a general-purpose (horizontal) ERP.

Aptean has made a commitment to not “sunset” (stop supporting) any of its products. At the same time, no company can be successful in dividing its attention equally over 32 different products. Therefore expect Aptean to invest heavily in a few strategic products. I would expect those few would include Made2Manage, Ross ERP, Compiere, Factory MOM, Knova and at least one of the CRM solutions. Intuitive will likely be included as well given the large installed base and the revenue it generates to the business.

What I have not heard is any intention to develop a middleware layer along the lines of Infor’s ION or Epicor’s ICE. The advantage of such a strategy is to be able to develop functionality as components that can be shared across product lines. However, while this is not a declared strategy, it is not something that Aptean has ruled out either. The company is still in the early stages of mapping overall product strategy and individual roadmaps and therefore still has many decisions yet to make.

And Consona had already made some moves down a similar path. Its latest version of Made2Manage 7.0 was just released on September 28, 2012. The transition from 6.01 to 7.0 represents a major architectural shift. Version 7.0 was developed in VB.Net built on Windows .Net Framework 4.0. It has a true three-tier architecture model with:

  • Presentation Layer
  • Business Logic Layer
  • Data Access Layer

The advantages of the architecture change include more flexibility in making changes to the software, better scaling and greater adaptability to automated testing, which can lead to a sharp improvement in product quality. So yes, the architecture is more modern, but in order to better facilitate testing in the transition from 6.01 to 7.0, Consona locked down the product from a feature/function standpoint. That made testing and transitioning easier but also prevented them from adding enhancements for an extended period of time.

Consona compensated for this by developing some components that can be added to 7.0 to extend the functionality. Examples of these are an Outlook contact manager, the ability to import Bills of Materials from any source (not just the most common CAD products), a margin analyzer, advanced shipping and mobile functionality for the shop floor. While in the past these would have been made available for purchase, Consona compensated for not delivering enhancement features in 7.0 by making these available for free to any customer on maintenance.

This same approach could be used to deliver common functionality across multiple product lines providing they are architected to be open and easily integrated.

Other Changes?

So what other changes might we expect to see as a result of the merger? Vista Equity Partners takes a much more “hands on” approach than Battery Ventures ever did and it also is a big proponent of standardized business processes and standard systems and tools. This is an approach ERP consultants promote to their customers, but not too many ERP solution providers actually take for themselves. Not only does Vista encourage standards, it provides the resources to make them happen. This should help the combined companies come together as a single cohesive unit, typically a plus for its customers and the customer experience. I would expect more collaboration between product lines than seen with Consona, and Consona seemed to collaborate better than CDC Ross.

In a merger such as this, there is always the fear that the investor is only interested in milking the installed base. Vista seems willing and able to provide the sales, marketing and product development resources needed to keep the combined companies moving forward on a strategic trajectory. Time will tell, but I don’t think we will have to wait all that long to see some benefits from this merger.

 

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Epicor to Acquire Solarsoft: Expanding its ERP Portfolio While Adding MES and EMI

Last month Epicor announced its agreement to acquire privately held Solarsoft Business Systems from Marlin Equity Partners. Solarsoft itself is a product of acquisitions, with a portfolio of enterprise resource planning (ERP) for manufacturing and distribution, as well as offerings that extend deeper into manufacturing execution. These include a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence (EMI). While there is certainly some overlap with Epicor’s existing product offerings, Solarsoft will expand Epicor’s reach to include process manufacturing, push it deeper into manufacturing operations and strengthen its print, publishing and packaging offerings developed by Kodak.

OH NO! More ERP Solutions?

That might be the initial knee jerk reaction to this further consolidation of the ERP market. After all, Epicor already has a whole bevy of ERP solutions. However Epicor stands out in the field of acquisitive companies as the first major ERP solution provider to deliver on a promise of convergence, while also extending functionality and modernizing the underlying technical architecture.

That modern technical architecture is Epicor ICE, which combines a second-generation Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) with Web 2.0 technologies. This technology provided a good framework for the convergence of nine different ERP solutions, (originally called Epicor 9, now known as Epicor ERP) but its continued evolution has also resulted in the evolution of Epicor’s product strategy.

With the acquisition of Activant last year, a company dedicated to serving wholesale distribution, the focus on converging multiple ERP solutions shifted slightly. In the short term it is now focused on convergence of technology and bringing the benefits of ICE to a broader portfolio of solutions, including the products acquired with Activant (including Prophet 21, Eclipse and Prelude and several other legacy applications). While Epicor ERP is a multi-purpose solution, these products will continue to serve more specific micro-verticals in the wholesale distribution industry, verticals such as distributors of fasteners, ceramic tile, electrical supplies, etc. as separate products for the near term.

However, Epicor didn’t just wake up one day and change its mind (and its strategy) with the acquisition of Activant last year. The evolution of ICE was also a significant factor in evolving the overall Epicor strategy. Over the past several years, ICE has been further strengthened to allow Epicor to build new features, functions and applications on a modular basis without touching the core of ERP. This means Epicor can continue to add new (converged) functionality or supplement or replace existing features without requiring its customers to implement an entirely new ERP.

ICE provides a bridge that connects the existing application with new, modular functionality. And it allows Epicor to “build once” and deploy across multiple solutions, freeing up resources that would otherwise be required to satisfy those requirements in each product line – freeing them up to work on more targeted functionality which has the potential of helping its customers in select industries achieve a measure of competitive differentiation.

So how do the Solarsoft products fit into this strategy? First of all, Tropos, its solution for process manufacturers, allows Epicor to address a whole new segment of the manufacturing market. While discrete manufacturers typically manage components and production in discrete, numeric quantities, process manufacturers often must handle ingredients and produce batches by weight or volume. Discrete manufacturers create bills of material. Process manufacturers deal with recipes and formulas and quite often have specific requirements for material traceability and regulatory reporting. These special requirements typically require special features and functions.

So the sequence of events that must occur to determine exactly how Tropos will fit into the convergence strategy is one of the decisions that will be required once the acquisition is complete. Yet even in the meantime, there are certain features and functions that are common across all sectors. Once the Tropos solution has been enhanced to work with ICE, the investments Epicor has made in evolving ICE should also ensure that Tropos customers have earlier access to much more innovation than Solarsoft itself could have delivered.

Other niche markets covered by Solarsoft such as retail packaging and corrugated manufacturing will reap the same type of benefits and further expand Epicor’s addressable markets. The addition of aVP and bVP, both serving the packaging industries will also further strengthen Epicor’s partnership with Kodak (announced in 2010) to better serve the print, publishing and packaging industry.

Manufacturing Operations

In addition to broadening its market, the Solarsoft acquisition also strengthens the depth of manufacturing operational functionality Epicor can bring to manufacturers in many different industries. Prior to the announced acquisition by Epicor, Solarsoft itself had made two strategic acquisitions: Mattec and Informance.

Mattec MES – Production Control

Mattec provides real-time production and process monitoring allowing manufacturers to gain control of their shop floor and achieve significant improvements in efficiency and product quality. It includes:

  • Real-time production monitoring
  • Process control
  • Dynamic Job Scheduling
  • Statistical Process Control
  • Scrap and downtime monitoring
  • Preventive maintenance management
  • Operator tracking
  • Real-time alarms and alerts
  • Open communications and machine interface

Because its primary role is to control the shop floor, there is of course some overlap and contention with the shop floor control (SFC) functionality already available in some of the ERP solutions Epicor (and even Solarsoft) offers. Yet this kind of overlap between MES and the SFC module within ERP is quite common. MES tends to provide an added level of “real-time” over SFC, as well as a higher degree of interoperability with machine and process automation. So each manufacturer (including Epicor and Solarsoft customers) must make its own decision as to its own specific requirements. And indeed Mattec may be quite a welcome addition to some existing customers, like those running Epicor iScala, which has nothing to compare or compete, or other customers for which SFC provides only a good start to a complete manufacturing operations solution.

Informance EMI – Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence

The Informance product previously acquired by Solarsoft may in fact be more universally appealing across a broader spectrum of the Epicor and Solarsoft customer base.  The Informance product can be categorized either as EMI (Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence) or MPM (manufacturing Performance Management). Whichever way you look at it, the overriding goal is to improve the performance of manufacturing operations. In fact, using the Informance software, along with the permission of its customers, Solarsoft has been able to benchmark performance of these operations and determine “best-of-class” standards. It publishes a number of benchmarking studies each year to demonstrate how best practices impact manufacturing performance.

Unlike MES, which adds a level of shop floor control, EMI serves to aggregate data from a variety of sources (man, machine and software applications) and provide a level of analytics and intelligence that cannot be gleaned from any single source.  As such, it does not replace any ERP functionality, but complements it. Today there is nothing in the Epicor product portfolio that competes in terms of this type of functionality, so this part of the acquisition should be entirely accretive.

Conclusions and Key Takeaways

What’s the bottom line here? Epicor expands its addressable market to include process manufacturers and strengthens its position in print, publishing and packaging. Epicor manufacturing customers benefit from added solutions that dive deeper into their operations. Solarsoft customers will benefit from ICE and the “Build once, deploy everywhere” philosophy behind it.

Yes, there is soon to be one less ERP solution provider, but the solutions themselves aren’t going anywhere except forward.

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Infor Rounds Out Hospitality Offering with Acquisition of EasyRMS

On June 13, 2012 Infor announced the acquisition of London-based EasyRMS, a leading provider of revenue management software for the hospitality industry. This is another step in executing its industry go-to-market strategy, more specifically in expanding its Infor10 HMS solution. Infor has been growing its presence and its solution in the hospitality industry over the past several years through a combination of acquisition and organic development. This acquisition buys them both added presence in Europe and Asia Pacific, as well as an important piece of the puzzle for a complete solution for this industry. Because this solution is delivered as multitenant Software as a Service (SaaS), Infor’s cloud offering also gets a boost.

A Bit of History

Infor is no stranger to the hospitality industry. Both its Infinium and SunSystems products were back office solutions that had been adopted by a fair number of hotels and casinos. Infinium products were added to the Infor product portfolio as part of the SSA Global acquisition in August 2006. SunSystems was acquired at the same time. But it was through the SoftBrands acquisition a couple of years later that Infor was able to address the operational needs of the hospitality industry in general and hotels in particular.

Later Infor combined the industry expertise acquired through the SoftBrands acquisition and the technology acquired from DataStream and its Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solution to re-architect the solution from the ground up. Among the advantages of this approach is a very scalable, full multitenant SaaS architecture, which allowed Infor to bring a newly architected product to market twice as fast as it would have taken without this proven SaaS platform. A SaaS environment should also be particularly appealing to companies rolling the solution out to multiple properties within a chain or group of hotels.

Compatibility with an EAM solution doesn’t hurt either. Facility management across multiple properties is a key concern for many in the hospitality business.

That is what forms the basis for Infor10 HMS from an operational perspective. This operational solution is then paired with either Infinium or SunSystems to provide the best fit for the back-office, if that is also a requirement.

So hospitality business can come to Infor from any number of directions. For example, a hotel or hotel chain running SunSystems back office solutions or a casino running Infinium might come looking for an operational solution to assist in reservations, event planning or managing hotel staff and scheduling. Or a hotel using the original SoftBrands product might come looking to replace its back office applications. Or a brand new prospect may come looking for either or both. In all cases they will be purchasing Infor10 HMS, but it may be configured differently depending on their needs.

How Does EasyRMS Fit?

EasyRMS ‘ EzRMS product suite complements the operational component of Infor10 HMS with a fully automated Revenue Management Solution. The solution treats book-able hotel nights as a perishable commodity and looks to optimize revenue produced. While historically most such revenue optimization algorithms simply managed room price, EzRMS also considers ancillary spend in spas, restaurants, on the golf course, and other extra revenues. Profits and cost (per day, per room, per guest and per stay) are considered.

Potential revenue is analyzed based on past stays for returning guests and based on demographics and channel from which the inquiry comes (e.g. coming from Expedia.com, Priceline.com or a search based on a particular hotel brand) to predict total spend and thereby determine the lowest possible rate that should be offered.

Other components of the EzRMS product suite deal with quotes for group rates and contracts as well as reporting by region. The addition of this suite to the existing functionality of Infor10 HMS makes it a very complete solution from an operational perspective. When combined with the back office solutions available, companies would be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive solution for hotels. If you further consider EAM as an added option, it makes it even more comprehensive and complete.

Infor will be welcoming customers from more than 1,200 hotel properties using EasyRMS solutions. These customers could very well prove to be greenfield opportunity for back office Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions like Infinium and SunSystems. A large chain like Marriott, which already has an ERP installed, would never have been on the radar of the sales team without having a foot in the door.

With its base in London, it is also not surprising to learn that it has a strong presence in Europe, Middle East and Africa  (EMEA). And it also has a strong presence in Asia/Pacific (APAC). This also offers a nice complement to Infor’s current stronghold in North America.

The Infor hospitality business itself grew 35% last year. With the addition of EasyRMS, this growth could easily be dwarfed by the growth fueled by an extended product and expanded presence. Additional opportunities may also arise by applying some of the same revenue management optimization algorithms to other industries. Hotel nights aren’t the only perishable products supported by Infor solutions. Certain food and beverage industries might also benefit from the same kind of science. It will be interesting to watch where Infor takes it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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