Having a clearly defined cloud strategy is a “must-do” for enterprise software giants like Infor and SAP. Living in a customer-driven world, both organisations must change in order to retain their top positions. Their cloud strategies now are maturing and more refined with tonnes of added values that are greatly beneficial to businesses of every shape and size.
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Both Infor and SAP have very different approaches when it comes to innovation. While SAP focuses mainly on building a solid infrastructure where their cloud offerings can base on, Infor chooses to utilise the already established platforms from AWS and aims at developing “last mile functionalities” that are industry-specific, intuitive and ready to use.
SAP’s cloud strategy
SAP’s cloud strategy was mainly driven by the diverse demands of the customers hence the complexity. The development of the SAP’s cloud platforms and its offerings over the years has been focusing on three main aspects: SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, SAP HANA Cloud Platform, and SAP Software-as-a-Service offerings (which consists of a variety of services).
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SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC)
This infrastructure-as-a-service is fully capable of scaling as your demands grow and is a secure private cloud that enables customers to run solutions like SAP s/4HANA.
SAP s/4HANA (formerly known as SAP Simple Finance) is a comprehensive finance and accounting solution which is available as an add-on to an ERP system. The service can be used both in the cloud or on-premise and requires no technical knowledge for setting up.
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As a private cloud, all core components such as hardware, storage and network are dedicated to a single customer only, thus, ensuring maximum security. The platform is a suitable choice for enterprises wanting to transition to the cloud.
Read more: Moving from on-premises to Cloud ERP
SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP)
HCP is designed for developers and is a platform-as-a-service. Just like other PaaS, HCP offers a wide range of services and capabilities that allow the development of applications including database identity, user interface, and connectivity to the current on-premise systems.
The platform can empower enterprises to build new cloud-based applications or expand their current on-premise apps, and integrate both SAP or non-SAP software seamlessly.
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SAP Software-as-a-service offerings
Cloud-native applications: a variety of cloud applications of SAP are available on a subscription basis. These applications do not require any technical knowledge for setting up or configuring. The already available apps include SuccessFactors, Business By Design, and SAP s/4HANA.
The downside is that they still require data migration and change management, as a result, the implementation process may take a while.
As more and more companies have started to adopt a “cloud-first strategy”, the cloud is being considered as a commodity despite its potential for further evolving in the future. Many expect high business outcomes from cloud investments, thus, the need for even more capabilities to the current cloud platforms is much more critical than just “convenience and security”.
Infor’s cloud strategy
Before Charles Phillips, Infor’s current CEO, took charge in 2010, their customers mainly run on-premise, outdated applications that were not updated for years. Things went a complete 180-degree turn when Charles Phillips and his team of executives invested billions of dollars in a complete overhaul of the entire organisation’s strategy to focus on cloud computing and intuitive enterprise applications in order to provide a pleasing customer experience.
Aiming at building beautifully designed and data-driven software for businesses, Infor’s cloud strategy involves creating industry-specific cloud-based software packages (in Infor’s term, ‘CloudSuites’). These CloudSuites run on Amazon AWS platform and were made in accordance to a set standard that enables the customers to use their applications out-of-the-box without any need for customisation or any manual upgrade.
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To make it easier for the customers to access cloud services, several capabilities such as IoT and networked analytics are also added.
Hook & Loop Digital
Infor has a plan to further develop Hook & Loop, Infor’s internal design agency, to offer their digital services to outside customers. The creation of Hook & Loop Digital allows Infor to offer end-to-end solutions as a service: their industry-specific enterprise applications which can draw actionable insights, a connected supply chain network, and a state-of-the-art user experience design on top of everything.
In one of the announcements regarding this new development, the expansion of Hook & Loop Digital will generate new streams of revenue for the business, create solutions that drive new capabilities, and to also enable Infor’s customers to better run their businesses digitally.
After the acquisition of GT Nexus, Infor plans to expand their network as one of the core ‘pillars of innovation’ which placed at the centre of the company’s overall cloud strategy.
According to Phillips, by utilising GT Nexus commerce network and by moving the network to the cloud, any manual processes can now be automated. The transition, in essence, helps Infor and the customers to reduce costs as well as information silos caused by misinterpreting the data, increase the efficiency, collaboration and responsiveness of the overall supply chain, thus, shorten the time enterprises going to market.
Read more: Collaboration challenges and how to overcome with Social ERP
Also part of the plan for development, Infor is starting to introduce the Internet-of-Things (IoT) phenomenon into their future projects. However, the goal is to establishing set standards on IoT in certain areas rather than over-confusing the customers with additional packages to drive revenue.
One of Infor’s most remarkable accomplishments today would be supporting Travis Perkins, the Home Depot of UK, in their digital transformation process. Infor CloudSuite was chosen by Travis Perkins as the trusted application to provide flexibility to changing market conditions, help the company to expand to new locations, shorten the time product reach market as well as to help Travis Perkins to increase the overall productivity.
The 200-year-old enterprise is able to transformed thanks to Infor’s “intuitive, beautiful applications with mission-critical functionality in the cloud that enables us to remain agile and to keep providing excellent customer service”, acclaimed John Carter, CEO of Travis Perkins.
Both SAP and Infor have gained tremendous momentum and have cultivated highly regarded success in their race to offer cloud-based enterprise software. It may still be too early to pick or favour only one side as clearly, both organisations have challenges that they have to face. This is exactly the reason why it is important to carefully evaluate all of your options and be fully aware of the tradeoffs of each solution offered.
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