José Rivero
Country Manager Mexico
Infor
/
View from the Top

Cloud Capabilities to Drive Forward Innovation

By Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 10/11/2021 - 09:00

Q: What role does the automotive sector play within Infor’s business portfolio?

A: The automotive industry is a strategic area for Infor and one of the most important sectors we focus on. With over 30 years’ experience working with some of the best-known global automotive companies, we were one of the first to offer an industry-specific, fully functional cloud-based solution with integrated financials – CloudSuite Automotive (CSA) – in 2015. CSA is more than just an ERP: along with our best-in-class edge solutions and the Infor Operating Service integration layer, it offers a future-ready digital platform for enterprise transformation and Industry 4.0.

Infor’s tailored automotive solutions cover the value chain end to end and are tailored to the needs of automotive companies, including OEMs, suppliers and specialty vehicle manufacturers.

In the Mexican automotive market, Infor is focusing on five objectives to help companies develop and execute their strategy: increasing the pace of product and service innovation to enable faster time to market; improving business collaboration, reducing ecosystem friction and increasing effectiveness; driving greater supply chain visibility and resilience and improving performance; controlling costs, driving profitability and improving overall equipment effectiveness; and leveraging technology to build for the future, Industry 4.0 and the digital transformation.

Q: What is Infor’s added value compared to other ERP systems and how does that translate to operational efficiency?

A: We offer tailored solutions with embedded industry-specific best practices, last-mile functionality, including EDI trading partner support, and analytics embedded with AI and ML to provide the best insights. We also support all manufacturing schemes, including just-in-sequence assembly and Job Shop, and we ensure a rapid implementation via the Infor Agility approach, which greatly reduces time-to-value.

After 30 years in the automotive industry and registering over 3,000 installations, Infor’s auto solutions are tailored to industry’s needs. We offer a multi-enterprise business platform (Nexus) that enables real-time collaboration, visibility and improved sense and response for all stakeholders. This improves decision-making through actionable insights driven by single-source truth/data integrity. The system also frees critical human resources from manual tasks so they can focus on more critical items, thus increasing customer and supplier satisfaction.

Q: What are the key elements for implementing a solution?

A: Implementation of ERP and ancillary technologies is easy but there are some tips on how to execute a successful deployment and get the most value from your IT investments.

The system should be fully aligned with the company’s digital strategy, as well as its business objectives and processes. A certain amount of education might be necessary, since using ERP as a foundation for digital transformation will be a novel concept for some stakeholders.

Executive buy-in will be critical to ensure that the implementation extends beyond technology. Companies will need to maintain an unwavering focus on reengineering business processes and comprehensive change-management initiatives for employees.

Chances are good that implementation of an ERP system will temporarily disrupt day-to-day operations. Keep in mind that typical deployments last roughly 10 to 18 months, depending on the size and complexity of the company and its operations. A phased deployment can help reduce the risk of disruption. Deployment or upgrade of an ERP system also provides an opportunity to re-engineer and document operational processes from the beginning of the project. The goal is to redefine and streamline your business processes in a standardized way across functional units and enable integration of leading-edge technologies. 

Q: In an environment plagued with shortages, what advantages do ERP systems bring to automotive manufacturers and why is ERP the best option to manage demand and inventories?

A: The recent events that have disrupted supply chains all around the world have been a call to action for many organizations. OEMs, suppliers, logistics providers and other partners are all seeking to meet demand and supply needs efficiently. They all recognize that building cost-effective, resilient supply networks is now possible, accelerated by advancements in technologies, business readiness and the overall ability to manage and respond to information faster.

While companies continue to build the foundations necessary for resilient supply chains from the inside out, they must actively seek new ways to manage risks and to respond faster and more accurately. The following guiding principles can help keep such efforts oriented toward resilience:

  1. Managing supply chains based on trust. Determine the objectives of the collaboration as well as the key information that needs to be shared between partners.
  2. Establishing cross-functional teams to drive end-to-end integrated behavior—starting with the customer experience.
  3. Developing sourcing strategies that will distribute risk for critical commodities across dual/multiple suppliers that span geographies.
  4. Integrating manufacturing and logistics planning into the visibility spectrum.
  5. Begin building the right talent, based on the capabilities that will be required in the future to enable new ways of working.
  6. Leveraging the digital ecosystem. Investing in the right infrastructure to take advantage of cloud platforms, AI/machine learning capabilities and other emerging technologies that can curate information in real time to drive insights for faster responsiveness.
  7. Establishing cascading executive sponsorship and a focused change management program to drive and manage the change.

The concepts surrounding resilient supply chains are not new. What is new is the growing need for extended enterprise integration supported by technology. This transformation starts with an ecosystem of partners coming together, seeking common goals and having the will to measure and manage the impact. Regardless of the ups and downs of socioeconomic and geopolitical factors, the reason to focus on collaborative supply networks remains a compelling one: Collaboration is the cornerstone of resilience and the status quo is simply not an option. The time to embark on this journey is now. The industry cannot afford to be unprepared when the next crisis arises — as it unfortunately and inevitably will.

Q: What is the role that data science, data analytics, machine learning and other predictive models play within Infor’s operations?

A: We have spent the last three years acquiring, developing and migrating best-in-class advanced analytics platforms to a true SaaS MT cloud offering, including business intelligence, artificial intelligence, process intelligence, performance management and governance, risk and compliance. This is all sourced from a single, near-infinitely scalable data lake and all delivered through a single user experience within Infor OS. No other company today can offer every one of these solutions in a true multi-tenant cloud with a unique focus on industry analytics like we can.

Most organizations have multiple ERPs, business applications and back-office systems for their various businesses, joint ventures or geographies. Integrating this data for a C-level view across the enterprise is manual, tedious, inefficient and error-prone. It is also almost impossible to adapt to ever-changing business needs, hence the fatigue with enterprise data warehouses.

Infor Industry Analytics delivers relevant and meaningful insights, on-demand, from the boardroom, to the shop floor.

Workers can access data in our Industry CloudSuites, allowing customers to see the impact of decisions before they are made, driving better business outcomes. Interactive analytics are seamless, allowing customers to navigate from built-in dashboards and report individual transactions, making it easier to take the next best action and improve productivity. Infor Analytics can also be easily extended and enriched with key third-party data sources using patented automation technology. In addition, enterprise data can be easily prepared for advanced AI and ML use, all from a single source. Customers can now easily implement good governance across data from multiple ERPs and other key applications with a well-managed semantic layer and usage rules. All of this is delivered in the cloud, eliminating the need for multiple ETL solutions, databases and visualization tools.

Q: What is Infor’s role in the advancement of Industry 4.0 in the automotive industry?

A: Industry 4.0 is an IoT-based construct that extends connectivity between the physical and digital worlds. Industry 4.0 technologies combine digital information from a variety of physical and digital sources across both operational tech (OT) and IT. In the physical-digital-physical loop, real-time data and insights flow continuously between the two worlds. The essence of Industry 4.0 is the leap back from digital to physical. It represents an increasingly significant evolution in culture and ways of doing business for auto OEMs and suppliers.

By combining IT and OT, sensor data from IoT-based machines can be analyzed and used in near real time to drive profitable growth, proactively preventing emerging issues and optimizing the value chain, all the way from the customer experience to product strategy and design, engineering, operations, maintenance, distribution, sales and service.

The Infor Industry 4.0 team will engage in co-innovation with its customers, partners and Koch, the company’s go-to-market (GTM) partner, to build new intellectual capital templates for digital transformation. Infor now has a new dedicated Industry 4.0 business unit to specifically attack this market. This new Industry 4.0 team will work closely with all other Infor divisions to leverage a broad spectrum of expertise, from areas such as GTM, Hook and Loop, Solution Consulting and Product Management, Sales Enablement and Industry Strategy.

 

Infor is a global leader in business cloud software products. The company builds complete industry suites in the cloud and efficiently deploys technology that puts the user experience first, leverages data science and integrates easily into existing systems.

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst