Can a mid-market ERP developer like IFS successfully compete with IT giant SAP? The answer is ”yes,” according to analysts at Gartner Group. For two consecutive years, they’ve named the Swedish developer of ERP and its software, IFS Applications, a ‘Leader’ in Gartner’s ”Magic Quadrant.” Underscoring the head-to-head nature of this competition, they’ve placed SAP and Business Suite in that same leaders box.
But it doesn’t stop there; earlier this year, the respected research and advisory firm also featured IFS in the Leaders Quadrant for Field Service Management (FSM). And as icing on the cake came news from ARC Advisory Group: The company considers IFS the number one supplier of EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) and FSM solutions within the global oil and gas industry.
CEO Alastair Sorbie takes a shot at competition
It’s clear that IFS is in a rare "flow of technological success,” a fact that also translated into sales performance. A satisfied Alastair Sorbie, CEO of IFS, revealed that it has now passed the milestone of one million users of IFS’ software during the company's recent IFS World Conference 2015. In this TV-report, he says that this isn’t just about reaching a major milestone.
”For IFS it also offers new business oppotunities,” he explains. ”Having an eco-system of one millon users is a goal we’ve been aiming at for some years. What it does is that it creates an even larger eco-system while it draws in suppliers and consultants as well, and we can buld a bigger IFS community.”
Meet the successful IFS chief in this TV-report from Boston, where he also took a shot at the competion and asserted that ERP world dominator SAP ”lost contact with their customer base.” But the TV-team is also digging deeper into IFS’ technology, more specifically Applications 9.
Dan Matthews, IFS’ CTO: ”It’s not about more data, it’s about the right data.”
To capitalize on change
IFS Applications is the company's flagship software and the prime tool that fuels its ongoing expansion. With the new version, the company takes a substantial development leap, influenced by the latest technological advancements; Cloud, mobility, Internet of Things, and social.
"IFS Ninth has what it takes to move up on the ladder of cutting edge technology,” says IFS’ CTO Dan Matthews. ”We want people to have the tools that allow them to be close to their business and a good understanding of what the situation is like, as well as having the flexibility to change in an agile and cost efficient way.”
ARC Advisory Group analyst Ralph Rio agrees. ”I think they did a great job with ease-of-use and the user interface (UI) between IFS Lobby and IFS Streams,” he says. ”They can be easily configured by the end-user without people having to go to the IT department and get a programmer to do it for them. Making the software easier to use is a key improvement in Applications 9.
The Lobby and the Stream are key improvements in IFS Applications 9, says ARC Advisory analyst, Ralph Rio.
Flexibility is a key characteristic of the new version. It has been built on a layered architecture to provide a software with an improved configurability, including innovations in the user experience and a range of new features.
"Effective business operation is not about more data, it’s about the right data”, says Matthews, claiming that IFS’ new solution can help companies capitalize on change.
The Lobby - a solution that drew enthusiasm
Above all, the new IFS Lobby brought great attention and enthusiasm from the 1,200 users attending the recent user event in Boston.
”I think it is a very good solution,” shares Beijer Electronics’ Joakim Stolt, an IFS Application user. ”It was very important for us. We were using the old Sales & Marketing client and one of the things that we saw that we needed to have if we wanted to go for the embedded CRM was The Lobby.”
Beijer Electronis is participating in IFS’ beta test group for Applications 9, along with British medical devices company Kimal. ”My whole IFS experience has been about giving the users of the system what they need at their fingertips to do their job as good as possible. The Lobby is a such solution,” says Kimal CFO Tony Wilson.
The new Lobby solution presents a tailored solution that is, easy for the end-user to configure.
Here’s whats new to IFS Applications 9:
• IFS Lobby—gives a clear and tailored view of the business or situation as it relates to a role or process.
”Lobby is fully customizable and presents at-a-glance, actionable information relevant to each unique user,” asserts CTO Dan Matthews in this TV-report adding that ”this UI improvement makes IFS Applications 9 easier and faster to use, bringing users closer to their business, no matter whether accessed on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone.”
• IFS Streams— a notification system designed to keep you close to the pulse of your business by posting relevant updates and actions to processes relevant to individual users.
• Layered application architecture—specialized extension and customization layers that streamline and drive cost out of modifications to the application. Technical staff can now spend more time adding value to your business rather than administering customizations.
• Embedded CRM—providing embedded CRM capabilities, IFS Applications 9 makes business data accessible to the right people at the right time.
“Promoting business agility has been our guiding principle during the development phase, which means major investments in areas such as a better solution fit for the industries we serve, creating insight through visualization, collaborative tools, user configurability, and layered application architecture, among many others,” says Thomas Säld, SVP of Research & Development at IFS. ”Combined with flexible deployment models, IFS Applications 9 is uniquely positioned to help companies capitalize on the pace of change in global business.”
SAP made a lot of marketing noice around the in-memory technology HANA – but is it something that SAP’s customer base wants? CEO Bill McDermott (above) thinks so, he even cals it a ”game changer”. But IFS’ chief, Alastair Sorbie doubts it.
"SAP has lost contact with their customer base."
Technologically and commercially in its areas of strength, IFS is clearly on its way up. But can it compete with the “three big shots” – SAP, Oracle and Infor? According to Gartner and ARC Advisory, the answer is “yes.” And Alastair Sorbie, of course, agrees. He even took the opportunity to take shot at the competition, (specifically, SAP).
“They lost contact with their customer base”, he says. “I reflect upon the fact that when you look at some of the surveys conducted at certain markets, like Germany, and look at what the SAP user base was saying, the main push of the HANA-story (SAP’s in-memory technology platform) and some of the other things they are pushing, doesn’t seem to match what their user base is asking for.”
He asserts that these surveys have been published in the German press and adds that “it indicates to me that if they are doing these things, which the customers didn’t ask for. They are out of sync.”
SAP is out of sync”, claims Alastair Sorbie.
IFS demonstrates in-memory capabilities
However, to be on the safe side, IFS also presented and demonstrated an in-memory solution during the Boston event.
“We cannot exclude that this is something that at least some of our customers may like to have, and we want to be able to support them with this. Specifically there are areas where the in-memory technology can be very useful,” says Matthews, claiming that the benefits of in-memory kick in when you have about a million records in a table, with the greatest effect seen when you are processing hundreds of millions of records.”
He added: “The speed of narrow analytical queries can be increased by hundreds or thousands of times, whereas broader queries might increase by a factor of up to 10, and some are not affected at all. Using real customer data, we see compression ratios ranging from 3:1 to 10:1, so you need much less memory than the data occupies on disk.”
This IFS solution will become available this fall. Finally, what about IFS’ new hosted Cloud offering on Microsoft’s Azure platform? Take a look at this must see TV-report to find out about the advantages.
In this TV-report from IFS World Conference 2015 in Boston, you will meet:
* IFS’ CEO Alastair Sorbie
* ARC Advisory Group analyst Ralph Rio
* IFS customers Beijer Electronic’s Joakim Stolt and British Kimal’s, Tony Wilson (both of them are participating in the IFS beta test group for Applications 9)
* IFS CTO Dan Matthews
* Rick Veague, CTO of IFS North America
* Microsoft’s Cloud evangelist Mike Opal
* British TV journalist and IFS WoCo moderator Jon Brigg