News Column

Cloud-Based ERP Speeds Manufacturing Deployments

June 1, 2014

Waurzyniak, Patrick


Manufacturing Engineering: Your company just announced the new Infor CloudSuite for several industries. What solutions are available for discrete manufacturers?

Ed Talerico: In April, Infor officially launched CloudSuite Automotive and CloudSuite Aerospace & Defense [A&D] in the Americas. While these are the first industry-specific solution sets we've launched in the cloud, we've been deploying other products in the cloud for many years. In fact, we already have 2000 customers and more than 12 million users on cloud-delivered Infor solutions. Many of our enterprise solutions have been cloud-enabled for more than a decade.

What makes our new industry solution suites unique, however, is that they are collections of products specially designed for each industry with deep, proven functionality to manage industry-specific processes. They are also the first of our solutions-or any industry enterprise solutionsto be delivered by Amazon Web Services, one of the largest, most reliable and most secure data management providers in the world.

Each solution suite covers all functions that manufacturers need to run their businesses. For example, Infor CloudSuite Automotive includes a comprehensive ERP, warehouse mobility, supplier portals, trading partner processes, business intelligence, analytics, budgeting and planning.

Infor will expand its industry suites for A&D and Automotive to all global regions this year, and we will also launch suites for industrial and high-tech manufacturing shortly. We expect to offer cloud suites for all discrete manufacturing industries around the globe within a 12-month timeframe.

ME: Describe some of the new features of CloudSuite ERP.

Talerico: Our cloud suites support multimode manufacturing including project-based, discrete, JIT/Kanban and repetitive, and they are accessed via a consumer-grade user interface that the best and brightest manufacturing professionals find a pleasure to use.

The suites are complete and comprehensive. Many of our competitors in this space offer only an ERP but not the extended solutions that we also include-or vice-versa. Our fully integrated suite minimizes the need for customizations.

Another feature that manufacturers appreciate is our predictable pricing. Some of our competitors' pricing models are variable based on revenue and/or contracts that include annual adjustments. With these contracts, as the industry bounces back, prices go up. Our pricing is predictable and not tied to revenue. We offer up to three-year, longer-term agreements while many of our competitors have monthly, subscriptionbased pricing. No surprises from Infor.

ME: How important is cloud-based ERP for manufacturing?

Talerico: Cloud-deployed industry suites help manufacturers keep up with customers' constantly changing demands in many ways. First, they enable manufacturers to quickly bring up new sites so they can take advantage of business opportunities wherever and whenever they present themselves. The solution sets accommodate regional requirements as well as the need for the level of global standardization each customer requires. This is a critical capability in countries such as Brazil where complex rules and processes associated with financials, taxing and reporting can be centralized and shared across operational units. Second, cloud suites provide the reassurance that manufacturers will remain in compliance with customer requirements when they adjust their business processes. Lastly, with cloud suites, customers can quickly adjust processes to position themselves as leaders. We believe that speed is a competitive advantage that simply cannot be overstated.

ME: What are some key advantages of cloud-based ERP?

Talerico: Cloud-based ERP provides speedy 'time to value,' defined as the time it takes after a launch before customers realize gains associated with their investments. Because cloud solutions can be provisioned very quickly and there are no delays due to hardware, server or resource concerns, users start seeing benefits almost immediately.

Also, cloud solutions require a much lower initial investment than onpremise solutions and are then managed by subscription fees. These fees can be covered as operating expenses, so manufacturers can preserve capital expenses for more mission-critical growth-focused initiatives. Finally, upgrades on cloud-deployed solutions are relatively painless-again, no hardware or training issues are involved-so manufacturers always have the latest version of the software.

ME: Should manufacturers be concerned over data security with data on the cloud?

Talerico: The short answer is no. In fact, security in the cloud with established vendors is often far better than what manufacturers would be able to build on their own. Many companies have an instinctive fear of allowing mission-critical data to be managed outside their four walls. That's why Infor brought Amazon on as our deployment partner. Manufacturers' core strengths do not include data management, and neither do ours at Infor. So we turned to an expert, arguably one of the best in the world.

Our CEO Charles Phillips likes to say 'Friends don't let friends run data centers.' That really does sum it up. Infor knows manufacturers need the highest level of security available, so we went to the industry leader to provide it.

ME: What is the outlook for manufacturing?

Talerico: Manufacturers will continue to move to cloud delivery of ERP solutions and extended enterprise solutions at a faster rate. According to a Gartner study, 47% of manufacturers plan to move mission-critical applications to the cloud over the next 4-5 years. When manufacturers look at business metrics and forecasts, they point to growth, growth, and more growth. So the biggest concerns in the industry are how to take advantage of new business opportunities and maximize the profits from that growth. Efficiencies, cost savings and the smart use of technologies are the keys to meeting those challenges. ME

"Cloud-based ERP provides speedy 'time to value,' defined as the time it takes after a launch before customers realize gains associated with their investments."

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Source: Manufacturing Engineering

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