Until recently, there hasn’t been a sense of urgency for European manufacturers, agri-businesses, retailers, and fashion houses to update ERP. The demands of digital transformation have changed that with analysts indicating that the global ERP market is set for a sustained period of growth.
Expecting a surge of adoption of cloud-based ERP, Avaap expanded its Infor partnership in 2016 to Europe and has been steadily gaining momentum, including customer, consultant, and capability growth. Recently, M3 industry veteran Robin Irvine joined Avaap Europe as its Managing Director.
Share your professional background. What excites you about the new role with Avaap?
My background includes 25 years of experience in the food and beverage, oil, recycling, and agriculture businesses with specialisation in the ERP space and enterprise level application stack. I have been in the fortunate position of managing more than 30 Infor M3 projects across a variety of roles from the factory floor to serving as a global CIO. Through these experiences with multiple silos and business sectors I’ve also gained exposure to large scale programs that stretch across multiple borders and cultures. My hope as managing director is to bring empathy to the customer perspective, knowing the challenges as well as opportunities to address them.
Additionally, I served as a committee member on the M3 User Association (M3UA) for Benelux and Ireland and ultimately as its chairman. In that role, of the many reference calls I participated in, Avaap was the preferred Infor partner. My focus is to take Avaap from where it is now to its next phase of growth while satisfying customer needs and attracting the next generation of resources.
How is Avaap structured to serve the European market?
Europe is an interesting collection of countries with shared belief that resources need to be local. Ireland and UK like to see “boots on the ground” and partners that understand different cultures and have familiarity with country-specific regulations. Avaap is positioned to serve that need properly as it has resources in multiple countries, including Ireland and UK, and consultants who speak multiple languages and have experience with multiple business sectors. The next phase of the strategy is to build out further and deeper, expanding the global footprint.
Avaap is also uniquely prepared to meet the ad hoc needs of the European manufacturing market. For example, traceability changes in the food chain, especially in the UK, require adhering to new and specific standards for both domestic and imported products. Producers must be able to identify all suppliers of food, food-producing animals, and any other product components and provide the information to the authorities on demand. Avaap is prepared to help customers adhere to changes in regulation as quickly as possible and with high-quality of that delivery.
In your roles as CIO of the ABP Food Group and chairman of the M3 User Association you met a lot of customers. What are some frequent comments you hear as it relates to software and how it is deployed?
The common concern is the lack of agility in enterprise level software and providers not understanding the challenges associated with meeting scale and volume requirements. Cloud solves this, but there are a lot of barriers and it is our job as solutions providers and implementors to breakdown those barriers and give organisations the confidence they need when making the decision to go to the cloud.
It is hard for most people to visualise what the future looks like. For many businesses it’s the first time they are going through a digital transformation program. Breaking the journey down to small steps and understanding each industries language and processes is critical. Pharmaceutical companies have different processes than protein processors. Helping people visualise the future is critical.
How do you see new technologies helping food process manufacturing organisations overcome obstacles and take advantage of growth opportunities?
Food and beverage manufacturing organisations need to integrate and interface into systems they are using for regulatory requirements as well as customer engagement. If they are not in the cloud, they need to start thinking about the strategy. There are many variations of cloud and the right version needs to be adopted for the right business.
Cloud allows manufacturers, retailers, and other businesses to dynamically connect to other systems that add value like BI, data lakes, and artificial intelligence. While customers are on premise those types of leaps remain difficult. As time passes, the ability to stay on premise in food and beverage and agriculture will decline. It will come to a point where legislation will accelerate it and businesses will need to be in the cloud in some shape or form.
Cloud has created technologies that are almost disposable as well as affordable, allowing organisations to experiment and drive the business forward. For those not in the cloud, its critical to be cloud-ready and in control of the future potential shift to cloud, rather than be driven there by industry, customer, or legislative demand.
We’ve underestimated IOT for food process manufacturing. For example, if you connect IOT to labelling, packaging and labelling start to become intelligent. We are already seeing packaging where it can real time effectively advise when it thinks it’s no longer meeting product quality expectation and alert retailers to adjust temperature, humidity, or pull a product from the shelf. Whether for compliance or competitive advantage, processors must be ready to react to and respond to that type of demand.
Avaap Europe provides local resources and Infor certified consultants for organisations that rely on Infor software, including Infor M3, PLM, HCM, EAM, Birst and more. Ready to modernise? Learn more about our experience and how we can take your legacy environment to a cloudy-ready state and then further support your cloud strategy or modernised on premise solution.