Reseller News

Infor targets A/NZ channel to push industry vertical SaaS products

Infor's strategy is to support legacy and grow from the cloud with industry vertical SaaS products
Kevin Samuelson (Infor).

Kevin Samuelson (Infor).

Enterprise software vendor Infor is aiming to lift its partnership game in A/NZ to help it deliver its new industry vertical cloud suites to new and existing customers.

Liam Ryan, senior director of partners in Asia Pacific, told Reseller News the company has around a dozen partners in A/NZ, with the three largest currently being Sydney-based ComActivity, Christchurch-based EMDA and Melbourne's Invictus Partners.

Ryan put Infor's A/NZ channel sales at around 30 per cent of total sales but said the company aimed to boost that to around 40 per cent over the next three years.

Reseller partners deliver sales and support and "everything in between".

"I think there’s great opportunities for our current partners and moving forward with our recruitment of new partners," Ryan said at Infor's Inforum conference in New Orleans last week.

“I see a lot of strength both in the direct and the partner businesses with our industry cloud suites. The industry focus and the development we’ve put into our industry cloud suites is where we see significant growth in the markets.”

Liam Ryan (Infor)Credit: Supplied
Liam Ryan (Infor)

Infor has rolled up over 40 significant ERP and other enterprise software providers since it was founded in 2002 and many customers are still using those legacy products. 

Acquired companies included Baan, Lawson, GEAC and supply chain specialist GT Nexus.

Infor CEO Kevin Samuelson insisted support for those products would continue as Infor, unlike SAP, was not forcing customers to shift to the cloud.

SAP has announced it intends to stop servicing its workhorse Business Suite enterprise software in 2025.

Many were happy with their existing software and were looking for stability and support rather than innovation, which is being channelled into Infor's new cloud-based, industry vertical products, Samuelson said.

The risks of a forced migration strategy appear to have been highlighted at Christchurch-based energy utility Unison Networks, which recently announced it was rolling out new software from Australia's Technology One to replace SAP.

Unison's 2018 - 2028 asset management plan said Unison's current SAP software implementation was at end of life by 2025.

"By this time a decision will be made to either upgrade to SAP S/4HANA or an alternative Tier 2 solution," said the report.

Ryan said there were still opportunities to move legacy on-premise customers to cloud but Infor was also seeing a lot of net new business with its vertical cloud suites.

"We certainly want to look to do enablement with our current partners to grow the footprint to deliver more to both current and new markets but there are certain industries where we will recruit as well, where we need additional coverage," he said. 

"It won’t be about recruiting hundreds of partners but a handful of strategic partners with industry knowledge."

One large global partner is accounting firm Grant Thornton which Infor is working with in A/NZ to develop its go-to-market for the healthcare vertical, Ryan said. 

Deloitte was another global partner with a big footprint in both Australia and New Zealand.

"The way those  businesses are set up they are very industry focused," Ryan said. 

"There’s somebody that owns that industry. It does become a commercial discussion about how we are going to help that person grow the business and how we can partner to move forward."

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Global numbers as well as recently released financial results in New Zealand hint at some margin pressure for Infor, however, Ryan denied this was due to any changes in its approach or a refusal to lose. 

“I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s the strength of the solution that sees us through," he said.

"We haven’t changed or approach in the last three to five years in terms of how we attack the market and how we compete. What we are seeing now is the strength of those industry solutions we have is taking us above the competition."

In A/NZ, SaaS particularly was a very mature market, he said. The assumption from customers was now all about cloud and that sits perfectly with Infor's strategy.

Many of the company's current partners were partners of one or more of the businesses Infor has acquired over the years. 

Christchurch-based EMDA, for instance, was a Baan partner and has since been an Infor partner for 20 years. Similarly in Australia, ComActivity worked with Lawson's M3 software.

Ryan said partners need to change their model for selling and delivery in the era of cloud. They need to clearly express the value of a cloud solution and change the model of delivery from customisation, which is more restricted, to extensibility which is enhanced.

Infor, he said, was helping partners to make that change and making sure its still viable to them and has a really customer outcome.

Helen Masters, Infor's APAC senior vice-president and general manager, Infor's strategy was all about delivering a business outcome and improving productivity.

In the Pacific region, the company was very strong in public sector, especially in local government, as well as in enterprise asset management and also in food and beverage and distribution in Australia.

Many of those local government customers would have been using a system called Pathway, developed by GEAC and now part of Infor's portfolio.

Masters said Infor is launching into the healthcare vertical in both Australia and New Zealand.

"We are really starting to play those market and bring solutions that are strong in the US into those markets," she said.

Already Infor counts Queensland Health as a significant customer, with its workforce management and scheduling software helping to coordinate over 100,000 staff and plugging that information into payroll.

Masters said Infor's approach was to start conversations at the C suite and talk business outcomes rather than "ERP", a term Infor prefers not to use.

Masters said many direct customers were asking for onshore delivery. In response, the company was bulking up its regional capability, especially in New Zealand, to deliver "near-shore" into Australia as well.

Infor's new industry vertical suites are delivered on and exploit the strength of AWS to deliver innovative functionality, including integrated data lakes and Infor's new AI platform, dubbed Coleman.

In A/NZ, customers are served from AWS's Sydney data centre.

Disclosure: Rob O'Neill traveled to the Inforum conference in the USA as a guest of Infor.