Avaap insider caught up with Infor leader Scott Staupe to talk about trends in retail software, technology tools to improve the customer experience, and the advantages of cloud for retailers.
Infor has made some dramatic changes in the last several years. How will they help retailers adapt to challenges in today’s marketplace?
Infor’s business strategy over the past several years has been informed by four core principles. First we develop specialized micro-vertical suites to provide contextual relevance to our solutions. Second, we create solutions that leverage internal and external data to drive thoughtful business decisions. Third, we focus on delivering beautiful and meaningful user experiences for employees who use our software solutions every day. Fourth, we continue to develop our solutions on the “architecture of the Internet” and deliver them on an elastic and scalable platform via Amazon Web Services.
These principles are especially applicable to retail, where little has been done in the past 20 years to innovate the stale delivery models and stagnant, monolithic technologies. Infor Retail, using the four core principals noted above, is creating new retail solutions from the ground up, co-innovating with major retailers in groundbreaking initiatives. The retail marketplace is constantly evolving, and without bold investments and forward-thinking, retailers will find it nearly impossible to keep up. From a beautiful user experience that encourages user adoption to flexible and scalable technologies that preserve the retailer’s technology investment over time, Infor Retail is focused on delivering value to its customers from many touchpoints.
Retailers are increasingly concerned about user adoption for the enterprise solutions they purchase. How is Infor Retail improving the experience?
While retail technology has always been relatively rich in terms of functionality, it has also been extremely complicated to use. Current retail software solutions have fallen significantly behind the user experiences that we are all familiar with from companies like Apple and Facebook. Infor has made a significant investment in an in-house design agency called Hook & Loop, which is focused on creating beautiful software that elegantly presents users with the functionality they need to perform their jobs. Hook & Loop is a team of software engineers and creatives—fashion designers, digital effects specialists and filmmakers, journalists, etc.—dedicated to designing a unified user experience across all of Infor’s solutions, including Infor CloudSuite Retail. By focusing on user-centric design, businesses can increase the likelihood of end-user adoption, reduce training time and costs, and improve company performance by changing the way people work.
Can you talk about the promise of the cloud?
The promise of the cloud is generating speed to value from an elastic infrastructure that scales with the needs of our customers. The cloud allows us to abstract the technology from the interface and gives us the flexibility to adapt our architecture over time while providing a seamless user experience. As Charles Phillips, Infor CEO, noted in a recent interview, we do not want to spend years building a hardware infrastructure to support new products. As such, we selected to work with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the dominant industry leader in cloud services. Our partnership is focused on leveraging the AWS infrastructure to provide the scalability and elasticity needed by the most demanding retailers. This scalability allows Infor and our retail customers to build applications that are only feasible in a cloud environment where there is access to the raw computing power necessary to process the massive volume of data generated by retailers.
Retailers face more budget challenges each year. How do you suggest that they prioritize their spending?
A retailer should demand enterprise software companies provide an option that outlines a 5-year roadmap delivered in three- to six-month increments. This creates a self-funding mechanism—delivering value with each increment to fund or accelerate the next stage of the project. Infor is in a unique position to offer this model as a result of the significant investment we have made in our solutions over the past five years. And the ability to deploy in the cloud reduces the overall need for infrastructure support by the retailer.
Over the past six months, Infor Retail has been making its debut, including a booth at NRF. What’s your perspective of the industry as a whole?
The buzz at NRF was really around cloud technology and providing seamless, robust user experiences for both the customers and the retailers. Our approach of developing new retail solutions on an open architecture that is designed for constant evolution was extremely well received. We noticed that our competition is starting to speak about the same themes Infor has been promoting for years—especially beautiful and meaningful user experiences. They seem to be very busy figuring out a way to catch up with us and to address the needs of their retail customers. Infor is ahead of the industry in the approach we have taken for developing our applications with the goal of keeping our retail customers ahead of the ever-changing retail landscape.
To learn more about Infor Retail, Infor CloudSuite or Avaap Retail Services, get in touch!