Oracle isn't the only company on the acquisition path; Infor has also enjoyed strong growth thanks to its appetite for enterprise application firms. Infor's Trevor Smith discusses the company's strategy, perception and focus on SOA.
By Stuart Lauchlan, news and analysis editor
It's not just Oracle that has been on a spending spree of late. Since its founding six years ago, Atlanta-based Infor has grown from a $110 million to an expected $2.3 billion this year. Much of this growth has been powered by 30 acquisitions across the enterprise application landscape.
“Most people know us through the names of our products,” says Trevor Smith, VP UK Ireland Middle East & Africa. “They would know us as an ERP player, but we have a huge presence in the financial markets and in CRM through the epiphany products. We have been on an acquisition path. A lot of the products that we have acquired have not necessarily been for the ERP solutions, but for something that fits with them, such as warehouse management solutions and performance management for people.
Trevor Smith, Infor
“What we say to our 70,000 customers worldwide is that we will continue to develop and support and enhance existing products, but will extend them through giving access to other solutions using our SOA strategy. This will enable customers who only bought ERP from us so far to buy CRM and other solutions. We are enabling all of our products with SOA. We are taking the products and breaking them into business functions, then re-integrating them with SOA.
"That's important. Customers are not looking to rip and replace anymore. Everyone knows that it takes a lot of time and effort to do that. In the old days, ERP customers would replace their backbone once every 5-7 years, but now that they have one it's not that part that they want to replace. They want to extend its functionality into other parts of the business."
Additional layer of approval
While SOA is very important to the firm moving forward, the other industry buzzword 'SaaS' is not featuring highly. “We do have some customers that are using our enterprise asset management on a software as a service basis, but we don't have a major play in this,” says Smith.
Trevor Smith, Infor
“We're not really seeing demand out there from the market. It's one of those thing that's talked about, but the actual demand isn't there. I think that in future SaaS will become more important, but at the moment there aren't many organisations who really understand it. It's easier for companies like Salesforce.com who are in the mid-market, but if you're looking at the enterprise space in which we play then there isn't the pull at the moment.”
In common with all software firms, Infor is keeping a wary eye on the wider economic situation, with the credit crunch and sub-prime crises in the US potentially causing a slow down in buying patterns.
“It's been a definite factor in the past few months that we have seen it's more difficult for customers to get leasing,” says Smith. “That said, I haven't come across a situation where a new customer hasn't managed to get financing. But people have been more cautious and looking twice at deals. Where previously companies would have gone through an evaluation then made a purchase, now there's a need for an additional layer of approval.”