Hobknobbing in Nottingham: Notes from the M3 European User Association

Andy Anderson
By: Andy Anderson
Date: March 15, 2016

Trains, planes and automobiles were as much a theme as upgrades, cloud and software services as I made my way to the Infor M3 user group in Nottingham, UK last week. Avaap was a gold sponsor of the two-day event, attended by more than 120 Infor M3 customers in the fashion, manufacturing, distribution and food and beverage industries.

Infor President Stephan Scholl and Executive Vice President Soma Somasundaram kicked off the conference with an update on the Infor business, product strategy and customer updates as well as the transition to cloud and how Infor plans to deliver more value to its customers through new solutions and services. Customers were excited to learn about future functionality and where the product was headed.

The majority of customers are running legacy software. The focus on innovation and software quality resonated with the European audience, with many still relying on legacy M3 versions using the RPG programming language. In the U.S., customers are further along the upgrade path and taking advantage of open source technology, with many on version 10.1 or later. RPG has reached the end of its support lifecycle, leaving customers at the crossroads of opting to upgrade or invest in a new solution.

The question on everyone’s mind: how are other customers upgrading? Presenters shared insight into the split of user upgrades from different versions to M3 13.x; the most popular upgrade path, some of the challenges and how to avoid them to ensure a smooth upgrade. We shared our success bringing J.R. Watkins to the cloud and how we used Avaap Test Automation and our M3 API Data Engine to accelerate the process and complete the upgrade in three months.

Cloud is still a sticking point. Europe lags behind the U.S. for cloud adoption and there was a healthy dose of skepticism for cloud. Data flow, data security, compliance, customizations, and control are top concerns. While IT leaders understand cloud is coming, the clear challenge is convincing them that cloud will help them be more efficient and collaborative at the highest security levels. As more companies experience success going to the cloud we’re likely to see momentum build. Our own customer portfolio has an even split between on-premise and cloud migrations, reinforcing the philosophy that customers need to evaluate their options and migrate in whatever manner is best for their business.

Accelerating testing is appealing on both sides of the pond. We introduced Avaap Test Automation at the Europe Inforum conference in November 2015, but this was a more intimate setting to show how it works and how it can be used as part of an upgrade. Attendees appreciated hearing how ATA drives a more streamlined, accurate testing process, installs in less than a day and requires no technical expertise to use – just a week of training for process owners. While the solution’s bells and whistles got some oohs and aahs, the idea that you build test scripts with the first data migration and then have a repeatable process that doesn’t require additional user community participation resonated with the group.

The main mission of the event was to share knowledge and experiences between partners and users. I was privileged to enjoy a great many conversations in between sessions and outside the main presentation room to hear what’s going on with customer software and plans to upgrade Infor M3. If you were unable to attend the event, join us in Atlanta at the MUGA conference, March 29 or contact Avaap to talk about your upgrade project or for a personal demonstration of Avaap Test Automation.

Andy Anderson is vice president M3 Services for Avaap. Contact Avaap to learn more about our end-to-end M3 hardware and software services.

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