Definition

Infor

Contributor(s): David Essex

Infor is a New York-based vendor of ERP and other enterprise business software. It is known for a broad line of dozens of products, many of them older platforms acquired from other companies, and for strong offerings in industry sectors such as food and beverage, process manufacturing, distribution and healthcare. Since taking on new management in 2010, it has embarked on an aggressive cloud computing strategy to modernize its product portfolio and compete in the top tier of ERP vendors.

History and acquisitions

Founded in 2002 as Agilsys, the company soon started a multiyear buying spree, during which it acquired such ERP vendors as Lilly Software -- maker of VISUAL -- MAPICS and GEAC. Agilsys changed its name to Infor Global Solutions in 2004, and in a major acquisition two years later, it bought SSA Global, itself a buyer of numerous ERP brands.

In 2010, a group of ex-Oracle executives joined Infor senior management, led by CEO Charles Phillips. Under Phillips' tenure, Infor has sought to modernize its software architecture and update key modules within SyteLine, the manufacturing ERP product it had acquired with MAPICS, and by developing X10, a newer ERP platform combining cloud, mobile, social and analytics technology that was introduced in 2013. Infor also moved its headquarters from Alpharetta, Ga., to New York's Silicon Alley district.

The 2011 acquisition of Lawson Software, at $2 billion, was Infor's largest and gave it a stronghold in the healthcare industry and the public sector.

In 2012, Infor founded an internal software design and development lab called Hook and Loop, which emphasizes the user experience (UX) of software it develops for individual customers and the Infor product line.

In 2014, Infor made a major bet in its cloud strategy by choosing Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the public cloud platform for its software as a service (SaaS) products.

In 2015, the global e-commerce network GT Nexus entered the Infor fold. Two years later, Infor acquired Birst, a maker of business intelligence software, in a continuation of a multiyear process of buying specialized applications and technologies that support its modernization efforts.

The company claimed to have more than 15,000 employees and 90,000 customers as of 2017. Most analyst rankings of ERP vendors put it in a virtual tie for third or fourth place with Microsoft, though each has roughly half the share of market leaders SAP and Oracle.

Software products

Infor's history as an acquirer and consolidator of ERP vendors and platforms -- several dozen in all -- has left it with a huge portfolio of legacy brands to maintain. Notable ERP brands acquired by Infor include Baan, a Dutch ERP vendor and onetime serious rival of SAP, BPCS, FrontStep, GEAC, Invensys, Lawson, MAPICS, MAXCIM, SSA and VISUAL.

As a result, the company sells or supports several brands of ERP as well as software for related business functions: customer relationship management, financial management, human capital management, performance management, product lifecycle management and supply chain management. In addition, its enterprise asset management (EAM) software has achieved a leadership position in the fast-growing EAM segment and is often paired with ERP from a different vendor. Many Infor products are available in on-premises, hybrid cloud, and SaaS versions.

In addition to MAPICS's SyteLine, some of the other acquired brands live on in Infor product lines. Infor LN traces its heritage back to Baan, having acquired the name LN from previous owner and Infor-acquired vendor, SSA. Infor LX is a manufacturing ERP system that SSA had itself acquired from BPCS. Infor M3 is a former Lawson ERP product geared to medium-size and large companies.

Other products still supported or sold include Infor VISUAL and Infor XA, the former MAPICS system for discrete manufacturers.

Infor has developed numerous software products of its own, however, including 10X, a social, mobile, analytics and cloud platform for ERP introduced in 2013 that included Ming.le, a social-collaboration tool designed to work across Infor products.

10X also included ION (Intelligent Open Network), a middleware platform that Infor had debuted in 2008. It uses Extensible Markup Language (XML), an independent standard for sharing structure data over the public internet or internal networks. The vendor also offers an application development framework called Mongoose that is designed to allow Infor users to customize or extend their applications.

Like most vendors of legacy, on-premises ERP, Infor has invested billions of dollars in developing SaaS versions of its product line, notably the CloudSuite ERP system, as well as new applications and cross-platform technologies. In 2014, it released a beefed-up version of X10 called Xi, which added AWS-powered multi-tenant cloud, analytics and mobility features. In 2017, Infor introduced artificial intelligence technology called Coleman that is designed to make the ERP applications more conversational and helpful through the use of machine learning, voice recognition and predictive analytics.

By mid-2017, CloudSuite included more than a dozen versions for sub-industries in the manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, distribution and service sectors, which themselves serve as the foundation for more narrowly specialized micro-vertical ERP software often developed by Infor partners. CloudSuite modules are also available for business processes that are common to most industries, such as human capital management, supply chain management and financials.

Industries

Thanks in part to its years of acquiring ERP brands that specialized in particular vertical industries, Infor has developed significant expertise in industry business processes that has allowed it to segment its CloudSuite ERP offerings for micro-verticals. For example, Cloud Suite Food and Beverage has packages for the baker and brewery micro-verticals, and there are specialized ERP offerings for the building materials; equipment rentals; footwear; furniture and fixtures; electronics; home textiles; insurance; lumber and wood; and shipbuilding, among others.

This was last updated in August 2017

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