NEW ORLEANS -- Cloud-based financial software entered a new phase this year, as major ERP vendors SAP and Infor both unveiled in-memory financial suites designed to be more unified, user friendly and accessible from mobile devices. Meanwhile, Workday continued to build up the financial side of its cloud suite by adding Composite Reporting that allows analytics on HR and finance data.
SearchManufacturingERP caught up with analyst Brian Sommer at the Inforum 2014 conference in New Orleans to get his take on Infor CloudSuite Financials, and what it means for Infor users and for competitors seeking to entice financial managers to move their accounting, budgeting and forecasting processes to the cloud. A former director of Andersen Consulting's software intelligence unit, Sommer is founder of the TechVentive consulting firm and its research arm, Vital Analysis.
"This was a big announcement," Sommer said. "It’s very large in scope. This isn't just like a new ledger -- this is a whole suite of financials." Rather than have separate subledgers for accounts payable and fixed assets, for example, Infor CloudSuite Financials unifies them in a single, in-memory transaction database, he said. "This is a rather radical departure from all the dozens of different kinds of financial products that Infor has in their existing product suite."
Sommer said CloudSuite Financials shares architectural characteristics with Workday Financial Management. "Both Workday and Infor are targeting their products to go after large enterprises. This is a new competitive space now."
Sommer compared the budgeting capabilities of the two cloud-financial suites and what the product introductions mean to the competitive landscape. "The competition is going to be defined not between Infor and Workday, but between those two firms and all the rest of the market," he said. This year's product moves, including SAP Simple Finance, represent a blow against old-style accounting with its subledgers and hard-disk storage. "Everything now should be in a single transaction database, in memory , instantly accessible and capable of powering through both transactional data and big data -- and everything else -- all in one convenient spot," he said.
Asked how CloudSuite Financials might affect the lifespans of Infor's many legacy brands, Sommer named several that would be good candidates for replacement, and advised Infor users to take a serious look at their long-term strategic plans.
Infor introduced CloudSuite Financials on the same day as its new cloud platform, Infor Xi. "This is a big ship with a lot of moving parts going on in there, and each product line has its own direction," Sommer said. "They’ve got a micro-vertical strategy underway as well that’s still got a ton of momentum behind it."
Watch a video about the Inforum 2014 cloud announcements
Learn about the debut of Infor CloudSuite
Read a column about Infor’s ERP strategy