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ERP vendor IFS climbed another rung of the cloud ladder with the launch of IFS Cloud.
IFS Cloud, which was formally introduced at a virtual event Wednesday, amalgamates all the IFS applications, including CRM, enterprise asset management (EAM) and field service management (FMS) into a single, unified platform.
The platform offers a simplified structure, which customers are clamoring for but not many vendors are delivering right now, said Darren Roos, IFS CEO.
"Customers are increasingly perplexed by the complexity of environments that they deal with, and they're looking at solutions that are easier to deploy, can meet their functional needs, have a lower total cost of ownership and don't have long implementation periods," Roos said. "That's what everyone's looking for, but there just hasn't been a lot of optionality as far as that's concerned for an enterprise solution."
Orchestrating resources across functions
IFS Cloud enables companies to orchestrate processes and resources to deliver what Roos called great "moments of service" for customers, or moments when businesses can please rather than disappoint their customers. To do that, enterprise applications need to work seamlessly and create a value chain that leads to the moment. Traditional enterprise technology silos like ERP, supply chain, EAM and FSM are not adequate for creating that value chain, he said.
"Our customers are facing increasing complexity in a post-COVID world, and orchestrating the journey from customer to asset to their own staff is increasingly complex," Roos said. "What any business today is trying to do is to create an outstanding moment of service for that customer, and we're looking to orchestrate those assets, the customers and the internal resources to create those outstanding moments of service."
Darren RoosCEO, IFS
IFS Cloud has a true SaaS architecture and can be deployed to meet the customer's needs, including on premises. Customers can have IFS Cloud deployed and managed by IFS on a Microsoft Azure infrastructure, deployed and managed remotely on premises in their data center or on a private, self-managed cloud. The application functionality and customer experience will be the same no matter how IFS Cloud is deployed, according to Roos.
He pointed to a familiar argument as another selling point -- that traditional ERP and other enterprise software are too costly and complex to deploy and upgrade and that the cloud will make it easier for customers to buy, implement, run and update the software. IFS Cloud will be updated twice a year, and customers will have the choice to move to the latest version only when they are ready.
"It will have a familiar UI, the processes will be familiar, but IFS Cloud brings an evergreen capability whereby customers can do an update every six months that's non-disruptive to their environment, and get all of the new functionality, fixes and updates," Roos said. "Our view has always been that customers who have invested in our technology shouldn't be taken to a cliff, and the approach that we take is to work with everyone proactively to [help them find value] in the new platform, and then work on bringing them to that point."
Unifying products a good move
IFS Cloud is a good move by IFS to unify and modernize its product set, which were not always easily integrated because several were acquisitions, said Predrag Jakovljevic, principal industry analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers.
"The ERP, CRM, HCM, EAM and FSM were all different products that you had to integrate and manage separately even if you bought them all from IFS," Jakovljevic said. "Over the last couple of years, they rewrote all of those modules in containers and Kubernetes, and they are all now integrated yet loosely decoupled, so you can deploy piecemeal."
IFS Cloud should stack up well against cloud offerings from other enterprise vendors because of IFS' industry focus and its strength in field service, he said.
"All those cloud suites are along the same lines and principles, but IFS' strength is its focus on only five industries that it has been targeting for decades," Jakovljevic said. "Also, no one is as good as IFS in FSM, except perhaps Oracle Service Cloud or Salesforce FSM, which comes close when partnered with ServiceMax."
The deep experience with industry functionality sets IFS apart from other enterprise software vendors, said industry analyst Vinnie Mirchandani, founder of the technology strategy and negotiation firm Deal Architect.
"What I like about IFS is they are much more aligned with trends in industrial sectors, including field service and complex asset management and maintenance," Mirchandani said. "They're not just trying to sell their financials and HR functionality like many of the ERP vendors and spray painting some industry features around it."
The fact that IFS has reworked the architecture of its products for IFS Cloud should help it open into new markets, said Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research.
"They've invested in not only the user experience but also the architecture requested for the digital future, which is allowing them to build on its manufacturing and field service strengths into new areas like telecom," Wang said. "The 'moments of service' are what happens when they unify their customers, people and assets."