Infor’s user event this week in New York City has been jam packed with high-profile customer testimonials. As noted in my summary of the company’s announcements, this is a clear signal to me of the success of Infor’s current transformation strategy.
When I first began attending Infor events about six years ago, the company certainly wouldn’t have had some of the big names on stage that it had this week. However, this has begun to change thanks to the company’s cloud focused strategy.
For example, we heard from Whole Foods on the first day say that when they met the Infor executive team, prior to signing the deal, it felt like they’d “met the girl they knew they were going to marry”.
Obviously customers put on stage are mostly going to have positive things to say about Infor – and we didn’t get an opportunity to dive deep with them – but I thought it was worth highlighting some of the work going on with a couple of the bigger brands.
For instance, the UK’s largest distributor of building materials Travis Perkins has just signed a multi-million dollar cloud deal with Infor, which is set to bring new locations and facilities on-line, vary processes across multiple business units, as well as support growth.
Infor has repeatedly said that this is the largest cloud deal it has ever done – and it believes that it is the largest cloud deal done by any vendor to date. That’s obviously quite hard to verify, but it’s a bold claim.
Travis Perkins CEO John Carter took to the stage to explain how the business has changed over the last four decades and how he wants to make Infor central to the company’s success in the future. He said:
I was lucky enough to join the business in 1978 when we turned over about £35 million. We should this year turn over about £6.5 billion, so the journey has been fantastic. And essentially over the last 25 years we have doubled in size every five years.
With that sort of heritage of doubling in size every five years, it gets harder each time. When I inherited the privilege of being CEO, we were turning over about £5 billion. My goal was to take it to £10 billion. But everyone knows that the environment is changing rapidly. We needed to focus on our systems and improve our customer experience and give them real-time access to our products.
Carter said that Travis Perkins is very aware of the “competitive landscape” and that every traditional business in the UK and globally is being challenged by disruptors, which is something that companies can’t shy away from. He said:
The landscape is becoming more and more competitive, customers expectations are increasing more and more, and we need to provide the right systems for our colleagues to serve our customers better.
Classically our systems were developed in the 1980s. We have obviously enhanced them, but we got to a point now that we have got more sellotape and elastic bands holding them together. The customer wants anytime, anywhere, anyhow. And they want access to product information, product availability.
Our systems are just not agile and capable of being customer facing. This is a massive transformation for us, for our trade businesses. We will ensure that we can be relevant for the next 25 years and not just for the last 25 years.
However, Travis Perkins faces the challenge, according to Carter, that every builder has its own “idiosyncrasies” and there is no standard approach in serving them. He said:
In the trade businesses it is very personalised and without the right systems you can’t personalise the offer. The choice and the variation is huge, geographically as well as different trades we serve. Being able to personalise to that individual customer is essential competitive advantage as we move forward.
However, what he wants to be able to do is equip Travis Perkins employees with modern digital tools in order to be able to better serve customers and their needs. Carter said:
It is all about the customer. However, for me, it does start with the colleague. Because if the colleague isn’t armed with the right tools to be able to serve that customer effectively, that customer is not going to return.
We have a tradition in the company that we have a lot of long serving managers that are very knowledgeable. They’ve got so much data in their head. Our systems at the moment can allow them to access bits and pieces from different screens and different systems.
What we are moving towards with Infor is moving all of that into a central screen, so it’s at their fingertips. So we are just going to be able to give our managers a more effective and efficient system to be able to spend more time with colleagues and customers.
Bank of America
Another prominent customer testimonial came in the form of Bank of America on stage on day two. Kassidie Light Menoni explained to delegates how BoA has implemented Infor’s workforce scheduler application to better help manage tens of thousand of staff across the country. Previously this had been done manually and was a drain on resources. She said:
We have a bout 5,000 centres spread across the country. About 50,000 employees in those centres. We have a legacy application that we have used for about 10 years. We had about 67 FTE that were manually building schedules on the backend, centrally and then providing that to the managers.
Essentially the managers in the branches didn’t have to touch the schedules, they didn’t know anything about it. Not only did we want to get a new application, but we wanted to transform the business as well. Make it automated and make a local model to where our leaders could know what was going on in those centres.
Bank of America had a gruelling schedule for implementation, due to budgetary demands. This meant that the company had to implement the software in just six months. Menoni said that in order to make this go quicker, prior to even going out to tender, she assembled a team that had people with responsible for change management, finance and workforce management. She said:
We had them in place before we even engaged Infor, so by the time we got there, we were good to go. This was a good thing because our timeline was insane.
I’m sure everybody in the audience will understand budgetary constraints when it comes to deploying a project. By the time we finished our contracts, we had six months to deploy to 50,000 associates across 5,000 branches. We signed our contract, within two months we had a pilot up for 1,000 associates. Four months later we had deployed on a rolling every week schedule to the remaining 49,000.
I’ve got a few grey hairs and probably a few of my associates do as well. We would take much more time to do it, if we had it.
However, despite the stress, she said that the returns have been worth it. Not only have customer satisfaction scores jumped from 47% to 97%, but the Bank has also made savings. She said:
[The returns have been] more than we had ever hoped. Frankly we wanted to change the culture, we wanted to automate it and make it better, simpler, work smarter and not harder. Through the project we realised several million in savings annually. With that manual process we were giving managers those schedules on a silver platter, but by automating it, those managers had to own it.
Image credit - Image sourced via Infor
Disclosure - At time of writing Infor is a diginomica premier partner.