To Birmingham - in the UK's East Midlands, not the Alabama version - yesterday for an unfortunately, but necessarily truncated catch up with Infor on the latest leg of the company's roadshow.
The management team are divvying up the travel time on this year's world tour with co Presidents Duncan Angove and Stephan Scholl making the trek to Aston Villa football stadium while CEO Charles Phillips picks up Paris and Copenhagen last week. (Someone got the more scenic leg of the journey I feel…).
Phil Wainewright and I will be catching up with Phillips next week so we'll drill down on Infor strategy a lot more then, but by way of an interim update on what's going on, the main news out of the Birmingham bash was around UpgradeX, pitched as
a simple and predictable path to upgrade from on-premise applications to the Infor Business Cloud.
The company argues that it's helping customers to take existing investments and get them up onto the Infor10x running in the cloud with Infor managing the application for customers, providing on-going and predictive support, education, and upgrades to the latest version and reporting tools.
On premise customers can transition to predictable subscriptions via a "one-time and modest set-up fee" - which wasn't quantified - to move their data to the cloud. From that point on they're paying a per-user fee.
There's a 25 users minimum on this and ideally Infor would like customers signed up to a three year gig, although the minimum requirement here appears to be a year. There are certainly no plans for a month to month level of flexibility.
You also need to like the taste of vanilla - no customisations when you move to multi-tenant versions of the apps, although Infor's stance is that most of the most popular customisations will already be built into ongoing upgrades.
"We have partners who do have application extensions. We have Mongoose which is our version of the [Salesforce.com] Force.com development platform. We just don't want people to modify source code. We think customers want one person accountable for that."
That said, you can pilot and test the cloud-based apps in sandbox environments before moving apps from their own data centers into the cloud. Demos are run on IBM's cloud while Amazon Web Services is used for production workloads.
Demoing is important, reckons Angove:
"This industry has gotten away from demoing software. Salespeople get credit for tearing up the RFP and never showing the customer the software.
"Every week our management team devotes 4 hours - Monday and Tuesday - to just looking at our product roadmaps and we start every week with a demo running out of our cloud data centre."
Predictably enough given the sheer diversity of its applications offerings, Infor is seeing differing rates of adoption for the cloud across its various vertical user bases.
Angove reckons that in sectors such as HCM and CRM, 90% of new sales are in the cloud, whereas adoption in a sector such as European manufacturing is going to be slower.
"If you want to stay on premise, we have no issue with that…we're not killing existing product.
"We believe that cloud is the future of enterprise software, but there will always be guys who want to do on premise. That's fine."
UpgradeX is available now for Infor LN, Infor M3, Infor Lawson, Infor SyteLine, and Infor EAM.
Next up, a cloud ecommerce push in the form of Infor Rhythm, the main selling point of which is its "beautiful designs" courtesy of Infor's own in-house Hook & Loop creative agency.
We heard a lot about Hook & Loop earlier in the year at the Inforum event in Orlando. The agency continues to grow - up to 80 people from a headcount of 15 at the start of the year and now with director Marc Scibelli appointed to the new post of Chief Creative Officer.
The first suite, Infor Rhythm for Commerce, is available now. Infor plans to release additional suites in 2014, including Infor Rhythm for Civics (public sector), Patients (healthcare), and Hospitality.
More on that - and beautiful designs - next week with Phillips.