According to a recent Gartner survey, 47% of companies plan to move mission-critical applications like ERP to the cloud.
“With more than 80% of the world’s largest automotive suppliers running Infor applications, we’ve seen first-hand the interest from the industry to move to the cloud to take advantage of its clear benefits, like easier maintenance and lower total cost of ownership that aren’t necessarily offered with on-premise applications,” says John Bermudez, vice president, Product Management, Infor. He was speaking in March 2014 when Infor launched CloudSuite™, the first group of industry-specific application suites available on the Amazon Web Services, or AWS Cloud. AWS provides services in 10 regions, with 25 Availability Zones and 51 CloudFront Edge locations globally. “AWS has the best and most advanced cloud infrastructure in the world, providing a delivery model, cost structure, and focus on operational excellence that perfectly complement and enhance our products,” says Charles Phillips, Infor CEO. Infor is a leading provider of business application software with more than 70,000 customers.
“Infor’s strategy to build a complete CloudSuite for the Automotive industry is spot on as it delivers the same features in the cloud as the on-premise offering, addresses this industry’s implementation downtime concerns, provides additional options for customers, and helps modernize customers, especially current Infor customers with their Upgrade X program,” says Dick Slansky, senior analyst, ARC Advisory Group.
The suite allows OEMs and Tier suppliers to electronically share data such as demand, supply and delivery information. Industry-specific analytics are delivered through a unique user interface that provides insights on finance and key metrics of the end-user’s business.
The suite also utilizes Infor ION®, a purpose-built middleware and Infor Ming.le™, a collaboration social engine which supports internal and external communications between customers and their suppliers. These enhancements support globalization by allowing users to view real-time data at any time and from any location.
Infor CloudSuite Automotive enables applications to be launched remotely, which in turn can provide access to emerging partners, suppliers and joint ventures. Infor customers will also benefit from a reduced total cost of ownership (TCO). Infor CloudSuite Automotive does not require customers to purchase onsite servers or hardware. Because cloud delivery via AWS is managed through a monthly subscription, Infor CloudSuite Automotive reduces upfront investment, and can be covered as an operating expense instead of a capital expense.
Customers will also experience a faster time to value than with a traditional on-premise launch.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Jeff Rheingans, Senior Director, Automotive Software Development at Infor how the Infor CloudSuite™ wil help automotive OEMs and suppliers keep up with constantly changing demands of the industry.
Rheingans: First it will enable automotive suppliers to quickly bring new plants on stream in order to take advantage of business opportunities on a global basis, wherever and whenever they present themselves. Second it provides the reassurance that suppliers will remain in compliance with their customer requirements when they adjust their business processes. Third, the Infor CloudSuite provides a flexible and extensible platform that allows Infor customers to quickly adjust their business processes to get ahead of the curve and position themselves as leaders within the industry.
AI: What competitive advantage will the Infor CloudSuite Automotive offer?
Rheingans: First and foremost is time to value. By that we mean the time in which a customer is able to realize the gains associated with their investment of time and money. The Infor CloudSuite Automotive provides time and cost savings through deep, market-leading, industry-specific functionality, established and proven best practices, an innovative user experience that incorporates social computing into the fabric of business processing and implementation accelerators – all of which are available securely via the Amazon Cloud. This drives down the total cost of ownership and also positions customers to drive topline growth more quickly and cost-effectively.
AI: What are the benefits of using the Amazon Web Services platform?
Rheingans: Amazon is the market-leading cloud provider because it provides reliability and security on a global scale and at unparalleled cost points.
AI: Why do you believe that cloud-based solutions are the future?
Rheingans: We offer improved speed, global accessibility, reliability and security – all of the benefits that automotive companies need in order to manage growth and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Infor CloudSuite Automotive allows suppliers to quickly seize opportunities, streamline costs and focus capital expenditures on their plants and equipment instead of IT infrastructure. It also allows great companies to focus on their core competencies and not be hemmed by the rigid limitations of yesterday’s applications. But just being in the cloud is not enough. Suppliers need solutions that are complete, flexible, extendible and, of course, reliable. Infor also understands that a little application hiccup can have far-reaching results.
AI: Give us examples of how automotive companies can not only adapt faster but also keep costs down.
Rheingans: Infor CloudSuite Automotive enables companies to take on new customers and support their business process nuances and EDI requirements quickly, easily and cost effectively. It enables manufacturers to quickly bring new plants online with their proven manufacturing methodologies while accommodating regional requirements and standardization. It enables companies to utilize established financial and back office operations to support manufacturing facilities in closer proximity to customers. This is an especially critical capability in countries such as Brazil, where the complexity associated with financials, taxing and reporting can be centralized and shared across operational units.
AI: What solutions has Infor offered automotive customers in the past?
Rheingans: Infor focuses on the following micro-verticals within the automotive industry – OEMs and specialty vehicle manufacturers, Tier suppliers and the aftermarket. We provide the specific functionality required within each targeted micro-vertical. For OEMs and specialty vehicle makers, our Assembly Control function provides market-leading capabilities to run assembly plants – out of the box. Ferrari, for example, relies on Assembly Control to run its entire network of factories. The functionality has provided all the capabilities Ferrari needs to effectively plan, manage and run its assembly operations and the increased flexibility it needs to accommodate customer changes to the configuration of their cars even as they are moving along assembly lines.
AI: Where do you see the future of ERP for the auto industry?
Rheingans: We have coined the term “SRP” or Situation Resource Planning as the future of the industry – where manufacturers will achieve even greater flexibility to apply the right manufacturing, replenishment or procurement methods for particular situations. Also, future solutions will provide increased agility and ease of use with back office functions such as billing and payments. We make it easy for people to apply the proper billing and cash management steps, despite the numerous billing and payment variations they deal with each and every day. Also, the days of one form of interaction with suppliers are gone. Auto companies must apply the best procurement and replenishment methodologies for any given supplier, plant and part to maximize efficiency and drive down costs. At Infor, we are plugged into the industry and our customers, and we are committed to help them address their challenges, improve their capabilities and position themselves for growth.