Enterprise System Spectator blog: ERP and enterprise system vendor evaluation, selection, and implementation.

The Enterprise System Spectator

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Infor's opportunity: value in maintenance and support

Infor's Dennis Michalis stopped by my office yesterday for a chat. Dennis is Senior VP, Global Partners, in charge of all of Infor's partners worldwide. Not that my firm is interested in becoming a partner of course (we maintain strict independence from vendors). But he lives down the street here in Orange County, so it was an opportunity to speak with an Infor executive face-to-face.

During the discussion, I pointed out the opportunity that I see for Infor and other vendors to differentiate themselves in terms of value and flexibility in maintenance and support offerings.

Dennis responded that Infor, in fact, has been working to increase the value of its support offerings. He pointed to Infor's quarterly survey of customer satisfaction with its support services that has been showing consistent improvement. In December, Infor won a customer service award from MarketTools, an online market research company. I normally don't put much stock in such "awards" as I'm never sure of the basis on which they are granted. But let's stipulate for a moment that Infor has in fact been making improvements in the quality of its service and support offerings.

In a time when major players such as SAP and Oracle are charging 22% of license cost for maintenance programs of dubious value and attempting to stifle third-party maintenance, now is the time for other vendors to step up and do things differently. Here is where I see the opportunity for Infor to become the "good guys."
  • Become known for quality of service and customer satisfaction. It doesn't lend itself to big-splash press releases, but it leads to installed base retention and an annuity business. It also leads to good customer references, which should allow Infor to scoop some new sales around the margins.

  • Offer tiered pricing for different levels of service. Some customers want platinum level support, with rapid response help desk access and full rights to future versions. Other customers have highly-modified or very old products. They never use the help desk and don't plan to upgrade. But they would like regulatory updates and access to new products on a selective basis. They only need brass-level support. There are probably two or three other levels of support that should be offered in between. Why force everyone into one level of service as SAP is now attempting to do?

  • Have a reasonable accommodation for third-party maintenance. This goes with the tiered pricing. There's no need for a vendor to take every last penny off the table. Some customers may want to buy brass-level service from Infor but contract with a local partner for help desk and contract maintenance. Allow Infor's business partners to be certified to offer such services. The partners provide a local presence, and it gives them another way to make money and keeps them in the Infor fold. It is a win/win/win all the way around.

  • Provide SOA capabilities under maintenance at no extra charge. Dennis Howlett wrote about this recently. Infor is in the midst of SOA-enabling many of its products, which should allow piecemeal upgrades of older products and easy integration with Infor's complementary products as well as those of other vendors. If this capability is included for all customers under some level of maintenance it represents a huge potential increase in value for Infor's customers.
All of this is especially valuable to a vendor such as Infor, with a huge installed base of customers on legacy products. Infor's customers are a big target for SAP, Oracle, and other vendors that want to migrate such customers to their own offerings. But installed customers are always looking for reasons not to migrate. Doing everything possible to make it cost-effective and easy for them to stay put is the key for Infor to retain these customers and keep them on maintenance.

This strategy could be adopted by any enterprise vendor with a significant installed base. I hope many of them will do so.

Related posts
Infor using SOA to breath new life into old apps
Infor chases customer for fees on 20-year old software
Infor reassures customers of financial viability
Infor layoffs, Dec. 2008

by Frank Scavo, 3/26/2009 11:33:00 AM | permalink | e-mail this!

 Reader Comments:

Tiered pricing - now that's becoming a meme but it's the right thing to do.
1. Infor top execs and their VC, Golden Gate, have bled the company dry of any available capital for product development.
2. Infor's SOA strategy is nothing more than press releases. While a lot of emphasis is put on cross-selling these unrelated products, nothing has been done to actually make them work together. Nice powerpoints and lots of talk.
3. They are focusing all their efforts on their IBM based products such as LN(Baan) and the recently renamed old Mapics product to attract IBM as a possible buyer.
4. They are moving to a direct sales telemarketing model to sell software. After the recent slashing of margins, many of their top partners are getting ready to jump ship.The direct sales channel has been virtually eliminated.
5. Now that they have no chance of pulling off an IPO the idea of actually servicing customers and running a software company is not why they got into this game. Their customer sat story is a myth. Customers get their best service from the partners and Infor does everything they can to suppress this.
6. Infor's two reasonabley modern and decent erp products, SyteLine and Visual, would make a great buy but they really do not fit the IBM/Java/Websphere/Sonic MQ strategy that Infor is pursuing. The SL developers in particular are very dismayed that there is no effort being made to integrate with other MS offerings such as Sharepoint.
7. Expect another major round of layoffs as they continue to strip away anything that cuts into their maintenance revenue.
The previous poster might well be an SAP or Oracle employee or reseller for all we know... Can he/she prove otherwise? The points made look very much like talking points. I guess I'll use the convenient "Anonymous" tag as well.

My company actually uses three Infor products and I can personally testify that the SOA strategy is more than "just press releases." I will be able to say more later this year.
To both previous anonymous posters: I appreciate the feedback, and I intend to follow up with Infor and hopefully some Infor customers to verify the value of the SOA capabilities.

To the Infor customer on the previous comment, pls feel free to contact me directly (my email is in the righthand column) and confidentially if you prefer to let me know your experience, even if it is preliminary at this point.
What is the latest with the IPO? I am sure they havent given up, it was a major goal for them when I was there. I am sure it will happen.....any rumors as to when?
I guess the first Anonymous guy is a partner of Infor, probably selling Syteline or VM product line. I received similar complaint from a Infor's partner in North America before.

The second Anonymous guy is probably an Infor employee.

I think it is not fair to say Infor do not invest in the product lines. The recent release of Infor MyDay and Ln FP5 can prove Infor is still enriching its product lines. But I think the development progress is quite slow.
I want to comment on the second anonymous commenter, who wrote:

"6. Infor's two reasonabley modern and decent erp products, SyteLine and Visual, would make a great buy but they really do not fit the IBM/Java/Websphere/Sonic MQ strategy that Infor is pursuing. The SL developers in particular are very dismayed that there is no effort being made to integrate with other MS offerings such as Sharepoint."

This does not match what I am hearing from one Syteline partner, who reports that the new version of Syteline (8.01) does have good new functionality for CRM and embedded workflow (formerly separate products) and that there is now integration with Sharepoint.

If anyone has further info, pls email me. My email is in the right hand column of the post.

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger

(c) 2002-2018, Frank Scavo.

Independent analysis of issues and trends in enterprise applications software and the strengths, weaknesses, advantages, and disadvantages of the vendors that provide them.

About the Enterprise System Spectator.

Frank Scavo Send tips, rumors, gossip, and feedback to Frank Scavo, at .

I'm interested in hearing about best practices, lessons learned, horror stories, and case studies of success or failure.

Selecting a new enterprise system can be a difficult decision. My consulting firm, Strativa, offers assistance that is independent and unbiased. For information on how we can help your organization make and carry out these decisions, write to me.

My IT research firm, Computer Economics provides metrics for IT management, such as IT spending and staffing benchmarks, technology adoption and investment trends, IT management best practices, IT salaries, outsourcing statistics, and more.

Go to latest postings

Search the Spectator!
Join over 1,700 subscribers on the Spectator email list!
Max. 1-2 times/month.
Easy one-click to unsubscribe anytime.

Follow me on Twitter
My RSS feed RSS News Feed

Computer Economics
IT Spending Ratios by Industry and Company Size
IT Spending as a Percentage of Revenue by Industry, Company Size, and Region
Outsourcing Statistics
IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks
IT Staffing Ratios
IT Management Best Practices
Worldwide Technology Trends
IT Salary Report


2014 Best Independent ERP Blog - Winner 2013 Best ERP Writer - Winner Constant Contact 2010 All Star Technobabble Top 100 Analyst Blogs

Key References
Strativa: Business strategy consulting, strategic planning
Strativa: IT strategy consulting
Strativa: Business process improvement, process mapping, consultants
Strativa: IT due diligence
Strativa: ERP software selection consulting and vendor evaluation
Strativa: CRM software selection consulting and vendor evaluation
Strativa: Project management consulting, change management
StreetWolf: Digital creative studio specializing in web, mobile and social applications
Enterprise IT News: diginomica

Spectator Archives
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
September 2012
October 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
September 2013
October 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
February 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
January 2017
February 2017
May 2017
June 2017
October 2017
January 2018
April 2018
May 2018
January 2019
February 2019
Latest postings