Infor®, the industry cloud company, recently leveraged the annual Manufacturing Indaba platform for ideating and sharing technologies and unique value propositions. As part of the conference and exhibition held last month at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, attendees heard from industry leaders, manufacturing sector experts and international speakers, including Phil Lewis, Infor senior vice president of solution consulting international (EMEA & APJ). Infor partner iOCO was an event sponsor.
Focusing mainly on Infor’s manufacturing industry-specific cloud solution and technology strategy, Lewis shared why helping customers to innovate and use technology to achieve their objectives faster, more effectively, and more efficiently is paramount. “Although Infor has always been known for creating software that is industry specific, it is now time to move to software that is industry complete,” he asserted.
To Lewis — and to many Infor customers across the globe — it’s more than just features and functions. It’s about creating solutions that empower industry to collect, store, manage, analyse, and report on all data that flows from or affects the business. Add to this the power to integrate while taking advantage of emerging, cutting-edge technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and business processes become as intelligent and impactful as possible.
To achieve this, software platforms must be connected, consumable, and creative, allowing businesses to embrace technology whilst gaining greater insights for better decision-making. “In 2014, Infor partnered with Amazon Web Services to deliver just this and more. Underpinned by the power of AWS, Infor is now delivering industry and technical cloud services to customers in a single platform that drives excellence in all elements of data strategy, intelligence, and automation capabilities — all while offering compute power, leveraging elastic cloud, and being as ready to use as possible,” Lewis added. “This is technology as a service, Infor’s operating system as a service, and we call it Infor OS, which underpins our industry cloud strategy.”
Now inroads are being made to revolutionise technology in three key areas: composition, automation, and intelligence. “Industry analysts agree that businesses today need to be composable. This means they must be modular, dynamic, flexible, and change rapidly. But to be a composable business, businesses need a composable solution,” Lewis explained.
Inforrecently announced that Gartner® Inc. has positioned Infor, for the third consecutive time, as a Leader in the 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant™ for Cloud ERP for Product-Centric Enterprises. Infor believes that this and other industry analyst recognition supports the position that Infor has built a composable architecture/framework. And Infor has not stopped there. It has also built a data repository on Amazon S3 technology, offering storage and access to any and all data in its natural format. This central repository of data from varying manufacturing apps and both internal and external sources, is called the Infor Data Lake. “Here data is readily available for AI and ML to use and learn from, while making it mineable. With this information, business processes are optimised, ensuring people are doing exactly the right thing, at exactly the right time, with exactly the right results,” he adds.
Now the question becomes, when does my data or software tell me I need to do something? When does my architecture tell me about something that’s happened or something that needs to happen? With the full scenario available in the Data Lake, users could be offered multiple ways to populate data and report against it. Now a world of analytics opportunities opens to the user. “This delivers unmatched decision-making power when it’s needed most – and is not only limited to Infor Data Lake users,” confirms Lewis. “We’ve developed this platform as a product agnostic solution, giving businesses the power to use it with the solutions they’ve already invested in.”
From an automation perspective, Infor has been building workflow capability into its architecture for more than a decade. Its decision intelligence solution enables intelligence to be injected into everyday tasks. “Incorporating AI and ML into workflow, for example, makes it dynamic for powerful, intelligence-based decisions. This is bolstered by the newly launched Infor Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solution, driving advanced front-end automation. It is effectively automating low value, repetitive, and error prone tasks, injecting the mundane with the intelligence needed to become effectual and flexible.”
With the tech taken care of, Infor takes the solution one step further by focusing on the human element. “This is also about the people. Automation can be scary, but Infor holds their hand, gently guiding how to achieve the most favourable outcome from deploying the right technology. It begins with identifying the business culture and needs, developing an understanding of where it ought to be tomorrow and how the business should be seen by customers and employees – then working back from that to guide in the right tech to use. Now the transformation process begins in earnest.”
The final piece of the puzzle, delivered in Infor’s OS platform, is process intelligence. “Business processes make the manufacturing world go around. The key to success is employing technology that ensures every business process is perfect, every time. Here two elements are critical: visualisation and integration. Firstly, users need the insight to model business processes according to requirements and make amazing decisions. Secondly, when one business process spans multiple applications, having the right data fabric unlocks immense potential – eliminating islands of data that don’t speak to each other.” With a sound data fabric, process intelligence will allow business processes to be interrogated to drive total efficiency; and offer opportunities for ‘Theory of Constraints’ principles across the entire organisation. “Chasing down constraints, making every process more efficient than before. Injecting intelligence to continuously improve business processes. We see a world where self-healing processes become a reality.”