Event Report: One Year Later, Ceridian Dayforce HCM Delivering on its Vision

Last year’s acquisition of Dayforce heralded Ceridian’s pivot from a payroll service bureau to an HCM vendor focused on technology and innovation. One year later, Ceridian demonstrates strong customer adoption of its new platform and continued HCM process transformation to enable HR organizations to create a more effective workforce.

 

Last month I attended Ceridian’s annual analyst forum, where members of the executive team shared their vision and strategies for the future. Ceridian HCM CEO David Ossip put an interesting spin on the role of HR in the future when he stated,

The value of HR isn’t in becoming a strategic partner. The goal of HR should be to help the company create the most effective workforce.”

This sentiment reflects the pragmatism of a team committed to innovation with tangible value; a focus on the processes, tools and information needed to create and maximize the value of the workforce.  Below are the highlights I took away from this most recent analyst briefing.

  • Ceridian continues its pivot from an HRO service provider to SaaS technology provider. With the advent of cloud services and the ability to centralize the skills and knowledge needed for optimized compliance and support, it only makes sense that businesses would look to the cloud for specialized support of processes such as Payroll and global HR. With Dayforce HCM, Ceridian is helping its customers move from former “lift and shift’” HR Outsourcing (HRO) deals to the advanced benefits of software in the cloud coupled with centralized specialization and compliance support. The platform itself includes capabilities for messaging, analytics, workforce activities, mobile access via native iOS and Android support, and other foundational items necessary for comprehensive HCM support, with collaboration advances underway as described further below.
  • Accelerating customer momentum validates the data-fueled platform. Available in the US and Canada, momentum is strong, with over 700 clients live on the Dayforce platform (of more than 1000 total clients), with roughly 30-50 clients going live each month. Approximately 15% of the live Dayforce HCM clients are those that have migrated from core Ceridian applications. One of the key benefits touted by the Dayforce clients is their ability to view and act on data BEFORE the time is worked, before payroll is processed, tackling potential problems before they happen. Other benefits include the ability to see fully burdened costs before the time is actually worked, and soon, to manage the rolling eligibility requirements of the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), all through a real-time engine designed to support compliance and information needs proactively, not reactively. Batch processes or after-the-fact alerts will eventually become the purview of “legacy” vendors unable to keep pace with the demands for instant data analysis and decision support.
  • The unified, end-to-end HCM platform is emerging, but still a year or more away. Today the Dayforce HCM platform delivers core HR, Payroll, Workforce Management (Time & Labor, Absence, Leave Management) and Benefits functionality, targeted primarily to North American operations. Expanded global HR support is on the roadmap, but for global payroll, clients can immediately tap into payroll services across almost 60 countries via Ceridian’s international payroll solutions (IPS). Through this managed services offering, consolidated payroll results across global and local payroll providers can be fed back from the IPS aggregator to Dayforce payroll for global reporting.Support for more strategic talent management processes will begin with the launch of Dayforce Recruiting, targeted for Fall 2013. Ceridian today has a standalone recruiting offering, but that solution will be sunsetted as the next generation recruiting offering from Dayforce becomes available. The initial Dayforce recruiting solution will support managing the candidate’s status and progression through the recruiting lifecycle. (However, I also expect to see some innovations in scheduling and onboarding from this development team that demonstrates at every opportunity the advantages of a unified platform and real-time rules processing.) In 2012, the analyst community was advised that advanced compensation and performance management was slated for 2013, but recruiting has now taken top priority for the Dayforce HCM team. As a result, these and other investments in strategic talent management will be pushed out to 2014. There are no current plans for delivery of a learning offering (LMS) and we can expect partner solutions to fill this gap for the next few years.
  • The experiential platform takes center stage over transactional systems. The Dayforce HCM team introduced Engage, its new social platform due later this year that will become the new front-end User Interface (UI) for its applications. Ceridian clearly understands that social enablement is more than just conversations, it’s about getting real work done. In fact, collaboration is viewed as such a fundamental component to today’s workforce processes that Engage will be included in all Dayforce HCM offerings at no additional cost. Clients not yet ready for such collaboration in their core workforce can simply turn it off, accessing it in the future as desired.Continued investment will be needed before it achieves competitor status in this space, as the current focus is largely engagement via activity streams, but the initial offering of Engage will be a good first step toward both augmenting and transforming traditional work processes through social collaboration. While I agree with David Ossip that the “mobile” hype is giving way to broader considerations of “accessibility,” I do not agree that “social” is giving way to “activity streams.” The term “social” often has a conversational, non-work-related connotation; however the idea of purposeful social – social collaboration that is contextual and event-support driven – is an entirely intuitive and evolutionary approach to getting work done. Activity stream integration is important (and the initial Engage offering will include single sign-on (SSO) to facilitate this with Salesforce Chatter and Microsoft Yammer), but collaboration should also happen at the transaction itself; at the point of need.  It’s too early to know the depth of social support planned by the Dayforce team or how it will integrate more deeply with broader social enterprise networking tools.
  • Contextual content will increase in prominence. This is a continuing and interesting play for Ceridian: their EAP (employee assistance program) services via LifeWorks, acquired by Ceridian 1998. Usually we think about EAP services as a pool of resources available for employees to call when needed, or as a repository of research and information available through onsite and internet access. This market is transitioning, however, from SaaS-based solutions to a focus on more contextual content delivered to the end users (a push rather than a pull model). Ceridian has a vision to evolve its LifeWorks offering by embedding EAP content into talent-related events in the Dayforce platform, ensuring context-relevant information at the time of need. Such a move will begin to move Ceridian into the knowledge enablement space of vendors like Infor Enwisen and Peoplefluent (formerly Authoria), but they’ll have a network of EAP counselors driving much of that content development behind their offering. Ceridian’s social platform and context engine requires additional development to achieve its full potential. Regardless, it is good to hear that team thinking about enabling transactions with contextual content as they build out the future Dayforce HCM talent management offerings.
  • Continuing core investments demonstrate customer commitment. Mindful of not disenfranchising its core customer base, Ceridian continues to invest in its current applications and other service lines including international payroll, pay cards, tax filing and others. It should also be noted that Ceridian not requiring a forced migration to the Dayforce platform, allowing clients to move as appropriate for their needs.

The Bottom Line

As I indicated in my write-up last year, Dayforce HCM is positioned to perform well in a market ready for process transformation.  It has delivered a large amount of functionality in the single year since the acquisition, and net-new customer uptake validates its market readiness. Strong leadership, an unwavering commitment to customer success for new and install base clients, and innovative approaches to traditional processes make Ceridian a viable and disruptive force to watch in the HCM market.

Cornerstone for Salesforce: Optimizing CRM Investment

Since 2009, a small, independently operated but wholly owned subsidiary of Cornerstone OnDemand has been developing and delivering cloud-based LMS capabilities built natively on the Force.com platform (Salesforce.com’s platform for building enterprise applications).  Operating under the name “CyberU”, the solution went live on the AppExchange in October 2010, and now claims more than 70 clients including Marketo, LinkedIn, Virgin America, Box, and Salesforce.com which itself uses CyberU to deliver and track training for all internal and external users (the “extended enterprise”) globally.

Today, Cornerstone OnDemand announced the availability of “Cornerstone for Salesforce”, effectively rebranding CyberU and reinforcing its commitment to bringing learning and training directly into the business applications used by employees, partners and customers every day.

Cornerstone for Salesforce – a different focus

Where Cornerstone OnDemand has been focusing on enriching the capabilities and value proposition its talent suite (spanning the Recruiting Cloud, Learning Cloud, Performance Cloud and Extended Enterprise Cloud), the Cornerstone for Salesforce solution focuses on enriching the daily interactions taking place within the Salesforce applications with embedded training and development.

Bringing business intelligence, social and transactional support into enterprise business applications (like CRM, Financials, Manufacturing and others) reflects the trend toward more “purposeful applications”; a focus on “getting work done” more intuitively and effectively. The capabilities of Cornerstone for Salesforce reflect common learning management requirements, but the design intent is to have the LMS enable training and learning at the point where it is needed – i.e., while supporting a customer or while managing a sales opportunity – instead of having the LMS be “place you need to go for learning’’.

The Cornerstone for Salesforce capabilities include:

  • eLearning, including instructor-led and virtual learning support;
  • Certification and compliance for sales teams, employees, partners and customers;
  • Individual and team development planning;
  • Just-in-time training (training recommendations triggered from actions within the Salesforce application, such as changes in opportunity status, or when a new product is assigned to a sales or services team member);
  • Individual and manager dashboard reporting and analytics;
  • Social learning via integration with Salesforce Chatter;
  • Embedded performance development and training through integration with Salesforce Work.com;
  • A unified user experience and common reporting and analytics engine across the Salesforce platform; and
  • Immediate integration with thousands of Salesforce AppExchange partners including hundreds offering support for eCommerce, surveys, assessments, and quizzes.

cornerstone for salesforce
In addition to the capabilities mentioned above, consider also the extensibility of the Cornerstone platform. Unlike the packaged service offerings of yesterday’s legacy software (where custom development is repurposed to other clients through a pre-packaged consulting engagements), SaaS providers like Cornerstone can develop custom code for clients – or provide the development platform for clients’ own use – and enable other clients to access these innovations through a downloadable library of solution extensions. SaaS by its nature accelerates the pace of innovation; an extensible platform amplifies that acceleration even more.  Not every SaaS vendor takes this approach today, but Cornerstone has been supporting this for years. Cornerstone for Salesforce  empowers its partners and customers with an extensible LMS platform.

My POV

The launch of Cornerstone for Salesforce  is an important move for Cornerstone as more and more organizations look to the AppExchange and natively developed Force.com applications to extend their Salesforce.com investment.

Today Cornerstone supports three distinct platform offerings:  Cornerstone OnDemand, Cornerstone for Salesforce, and CSB (formerly Sonar6).  Rather than being distractions, I expect each offering will inform the other with best practices and lessons learned.  (We’ve seen this already, as the innovative “helicopter review” from the CSB solution is making its way into the Cornerstone Performance Cloud; and the domain expertise from the Cornerstone Learning cloud heavily influenced initial Cornerstone for Salesforce capabilities).

The Cornerstone OnDemand suite and CSB solution will continue to be important options for buyers in the HCM marketplace.  For Salesforce.com customers, a new option has emerged.

Cornerstone for Salesforce is a market-tested solution, with large clients (such as Salesforce.com) relying upon it today for learning and training across their extended enterprise.  Cornerstone for Salesforce should be on the shortlist of any Salesforce customer seeking intuitive, contextual learning and development support for its employees, partners and customers.

Will a Move to the Cloud Make IT Irrelevant?

An impressive number of IT and Business leaders from across EMEA have converged  upon Dubai this week to participate in Oracle’s CloudWorld, an executive event focused on the disruptive technologies of social, mobile and, of course, Cloud.  The Dubai event is the first in a series of conferences that will take place in select cities across the globe through April 2013.

One of the common conversations taking place amongst conference delegates is the impact of these technologies on the IT organization – fundamentally, is cloud making IT irrelevant?

The reality is actually just the opposite: embracing cloud and other disruptive technologies enables the IT organization to rebalance its investments in core infrastructure to embrace more strategic investments in integration, intelligence and innovation.

Constellation Research has published extensively on this topic, and I presented on it as well throughout 2012. Embedded below is one such presentation, taking a look at the evolving role of IT organizations as the Future of Work unfolds, including top priorities, key challenges and required shifts in thinking. Whether focused on Infrastructure, Integration, Intelligence or Innovation, the “I” in the “IT” Organization is morphing to match the needs of the organization, taking a more business-focused point of view.

Click here to view the presentation:  The Evolution of IT Organizations in the Future of work

For additional thoughts on the hybrid IT environment that is likely emerging in your organization as a result of partial cloud adoption, check out this article and published research, also by Constellation.

Contact us at Constellation Research if you would like to discuss our research on this topic in more detail.

Kicking Off 2013 in the Hot Seat

What can you cover in 20 minutes on a radio show with a provocative host?  A lot, apparently.SoMoCloHy

I had the pleasure of joining Bill Kutik, well-known HR industry analyst and founding Co-Chair of the annual HR Technology Conference, on his biweekly program, the Bill Kutik Radio Show, sponsored by Knowledge Infusion. It was Bill’s 118th radio show to date, but his first show of 2013, marking the second time in a row that I’ve been honored to be Bill’s guest on his “New Year kickoff” episode.

For 20 minutes, and with no-holds-barred, Bill peppered me with questions spanning some of the hottest topics in HCM:  SaaS, Social, Mobile and Hybrid HCM.  A few of the questions we discussed – and at times, debated – were these:

  • Are social technologies delivering business value?  Have they found their place as ‘real tools’ or are we still just connecting and sharing?
  • Is SaaS winning because we’re doing less diligence? Are switching costs really less for SaaS vs. OnPremises solutions?
  • Is Hybrid HCM (the combination of OnPremises and SaaS deployments) part of the journey to the Cloud, or a destination in itself?  Why would you go that route?
  • Mobile – is there real enterprise value here, or is mobile really just for a few targeted processes such as time & labor?  Where is it making a difference?

Click here to listen to this highly interactive session.  For a full roster and links to Bill’s many other radio interviews, visit KI OnDemand.

Disclosure: neither Bill Kutik nor Knowledge Infusion are clients of mine or of Constellation Research, Inc., but I am not above buying them (or letting them buy me) a drink, coffee or other refreshment when our paths cross in exchange for great industry conversation and insights. 

Disruptive or Enabling? Social Technologies in Talent Management

Bring up the subject of social tools to business leaders, and many will still take the position that these technologies have little to no real value in supporting daily workplace initiatives. But whether these leaders are ready for it or not, today’s workers are bringing expectations for social and mobile technologies into the workplace. Ever-connected, accustomed to instant access to information and people, social and mobile technologies are simply the way we live and work today.

cloud3In a few weeks I’ll be publishing the first in a series of reports detailing both the disruptive and enabling effects of social technologies on talent management practices and technologies. The first of these reports provides a comprehensive look across nine primary categories of talent management, highlighting the evolution and transformations taking place as a result of social, mobile and cloud technologies.

Preliminary findings from this research have already been published in the latest edition of Workforce Solutions Review, a publication of the International Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM).  In that issue, I discuss a few of the emerging realities within the future of talent management:

  • Talent sourcing and acquisition has gone social;
  • Goals, initiatives and tasks are more immediate and transparent;
  • Identifying top talent benefits from richer insights;
  • The “system of record” becomes a portable, holistic profile; and
  • Concepts in customer analysis are informing HCM analytics.

The article also looks to the future and notes that social and mobile experiences
are impacting more than just processes; they’re also impacting how software is being developed, delivered and consumed.

For an early glimpse into the findings from this body of research, download the full article here.

Ceridian Claims its Seat at the SaaS HCM Table

With its acquisition of Dayforce now complete, Ceridian becomes the latest entrant in the SaaS HCM marketplace. Timely execution of strategies and leveraging its differentiators to retain and eventually migrate Ceridian customers to the new platform will be critical factors of success in Ceridian’s transformation from a portfolio-based services bureau company to a leading provider of SaaS HCM.

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Seven Ways Infor Is Advancing HCM (Hint: Lawson is But One)

Summary: HCM growth gains prominence at Infor as investments across infrastructure and technologies combine to create a solid foundation for HCM growth. With a focus on complete vertical solutions, a consumer grade user experience and flexibility, Infor is poised to capitalize on its position as the third largest ERP vendor in the world.

infor logoLet’s face it: in previous years, if you were thinking about leading Human Capital Management (HCM) technologies, the name “Infor” just didn’t bubble to the surface. A collection of more than 30 acquisitions, Infor’s HR capabilities were largely delivered in the context of industry vertical-focused solutions, bringing solid HR functionality into the suite, but certainly not on any watch lists for best-in-class HCM technology. Last year, Infor acquired a market leader in HCM, Lawson Software, and the market held its breath while it waited to see if, indeed, this was “the end of Lawson HCM.”

It’s time to release that breath.

Infor is investing heavily in their HCM portfolio, and in fact positions growth in HCM as a strategic initiative for the organization. The last 6 months have seen a series of product and technology releases across the Infor and Lawson platforms. Infor has also been busy under the covers, making operational changes to improve efficiencies, speed innovation, improve scale, and refine their go to market approach.

I have spoken with executives and HCM leadership across Infor over the past few months. At the highest levels, CEO Charles Phillips speaks of Infor’s focus on delivering complete industry suites, delivering functionality with a consumer grade user experience, and “reimagining the management of software” for maximum flexibility. These tenets are manifest in the current and future directions articulated by the Infor HCM leadership team, headed up by Tarik Taman, General Manager HCM.

With the strength of Lawson HCM at its core, coupled with the latest Infor-led technologies for interoperability, collaboration and mobility, Infor is well on its way to capitalizing on its market position as the third largest ERP provider in the world, second only to SAP and Oracle.  As Infor prepares for its first user conference following the Lawson acquisition (Inforum 2012), it’s worthwhile to review the latest technology and infrastructure investments – I’ve summarized seven below – that are laying the foundation for growth across Infor HCM.

1. Infor10: Infor’s Platform for Innovation

September 2011 saw the launch of Infor10, Infor’s new platform for innovation. Infor10 is also the umbrella brand covering all of Infor’s current enterprise applications (including ERP, CRM, HCM, FIN, business intelligence and others); the ION suite of middleware; the Workspace graphical client; its Cloudsuite application suite; and its latest mobility platform, Infor10 Motion.

An in-depth analysis by my colleague Ray Wang, published at the time of the launch, provides details across these Infor10 components, all of which are applicable to the Infor HCM strategy moving forward.

The most immediate and critical of these components to the HCM strategy is the release of Infor ION: Infor’s platform for the social, mobile and flexible enterprise. Infor believes the path to the future lies in a loosely coupled architecture that easily accommodates change and plug-ins. “Enterprises need the flexibility to change components when needed and without loss of integration” said Phillips, explaining why he stopped Infor’s previous plans to standardize on Microsoft technology and instead embrace more open technology stack. This is where Infor’s ION platform comes in. Infor ION is the glue to Infor’s overall strategy – and the counter maneuver to Oracle’s Fusion middleware and SAP’s Netweaver middleware. The primary focus of Infor ION is to ensure complete communication and interoperability across all Infor solutions, as well as connecting Infor applications to third party solutions.

Integration is a lynchpin for success to HCM technologies, and as such, getting the Infor HCM solutions to leverage the ION platform is a top priority. Integration of Lawson HRM solutions with the Infor ION platform is scheduled for release next month, with the Lawson Talent Management suite to follow.

Infor10 also includes a new mobility platform, launched in January 2012, called Infor10 Motion. This platform plugs into Infor’s ERP, CRM, SCM and other applications through Infor ION, bringing real-time, mobile solutions to users when and where needed. While Lawson already has a collection of ERP and HCM mobile applications, further efforts across Lawson HRM, Talent Management, Enwisen HR Service Delivery and Infor Workforce Management have mostly been sidelined in favor of leveraging this new Infor10 Motion platform in the coming year. The trade off for customers is less rapid delivery of new mobile solutions in exchange for improved Infor10 interoperability via the new Motion platform.

2. Lawson HCM: The Destination Platform for HCM

Infor acquired mid-market industry leader Lawson Software in July 2011. The Lawson HCM suite is comprised of Lawson HRM (which includes HR recordkeeping, benefits, payroll, absence management, employee and manager self service and select vertical functionality), Lawson Talent Management (including performance, goals, compensation, succession, learning, talent acquisition and competency management), and the Lawson HR Service Delivery platform (acquired from Enwisen in 2010, delivering knowledgebase, case management, on- and off-boarding and Total Rewards).

These Lawson HCM solutions and Infor’s Workforce Management solution (acquired in 2007 from Workbrain) combine to form the Infor Human Capital Management Suite. According to Tarik Taman, General Manager of Infor HCM, Infor’s strategy is to make this the destination HCM platform for their more than 70,000 customers, through continued innovation and improved interoperability across the HCM platform and by leveraging the Infor’s technology and infrastructure investments.

Following the acquisition, Infor added more than 90 headcount to the Lawson HCM division and significantly ramped up its development efforts. The first post-acquisition release occurred in December 2011, with the delivery of the Infor 10 Lawson S3 release(Lawson S3 10), delivering advances in functionality, integration and user experience.

The Lawson S3 10 release was not without its challenges. For example, customers are vexed by questions of when to use Lawson’s Smart Office (LSO) capabilities vs. Infor’s new Workspace, both of which provide collaboration capabilities but functionality and deployment options (desktop vs. mobile and web based) vary. Additionally, integration between the modules still lags, but starting in March 2012, a series of releases will begin to change this. Taman and members of his leadership team laid out an aggressive HCM roadmap beginning next month demonstrating Lawson HRM integration with Infor ION; Infor Workspaces extending across Talent Management; ongoing vertical enrichment and expansion; and later this year, mobile advances on the new Infor Motion platform across all the Infor HCM solutions.

3. Infor Workforce Management: Completing the HCM Suite

Upon the Lawson acquisition, one of the top identified priorities was the rapid integration of Infor Workforce Management (WFM) solution – which provides comprehensive labor management support and optimization – with the Lawson HCM solutions. The first of such integrations is targeted for delivery in March 2012, and should be on display at the upcoming Inforum 2012 conference in April. Infor also sees tremendous synergy between the Lawson HR Service Delivery platform and the Infor Workforce Management technologies for targeted industries and processes, and as such, deeper integrations between these two technologies are planned in the near future.

4. Lawson HR Service Delivery (Enwisen): Unifying HCM with Knowledge and Process Support

To date, integration between the Lawson, Enwisen and Workbrain platforms has been limited. The going forward strategy is to leverage Enwisen as a unification tool to wrap all the HCM applications together with knowledge and process support, seamlessly moving users across the various solutions with single sign-on. This makes sense for many organizations, as knowledge-enablement has proven to reduce costs and streamline processes while enabling HR to refocus its efforts on providing higher-value services to the business. However, this model isn’t necessarily warranted for all sized organizations, it doesn’t address the different look/feel of the Lawson, Enwisen and Workbrain technologies nor does it bring in the collaboration/social aspects available from the Infor10 platform.

In upcoming months, I will be looking for greater clarity on planned use of the Infor ION platform within this Enwisen unification strategy. Meanwhile, the ERP-agnostic Enwisen solution has 80% of its customers using SAP or Oracle HCM today; a great Trojan horse into hundreds of competitors’ customers as the value proposition for Enwisen and the rest of Infor HCM is enriched.

5. Complete Vertical Solutions with Leading Talent Management

According to Infor, 42% of ERP customizations are performed to address industry gaps. Infor seeks to minimize or eliminate the need for such customizations through a vertically focused go-to-market approach spanning sales, products and services. The Infor HCM roadmap includes continued vertical specialization across all HCM solution components. One area of potential mismatch, however, is with Infor Workforce Management, where more than 50% of its customers are in the retail industry, yet there is no associated strategy to build out retail-specific capabilities within Lawson HCM applications.

Infor is also committed to Lawson Talent Management as a competitive stand-alone offering in the market, moving Infor beyond its legacy of “good enough” HCM within its vertical suites. Infor spoke of their continued innovations in this area as well as improving integration with 3rd-party systems of record, reinforcing Infor’s message of flexibility, while also solidifying the up-sell opportunity of Lawson Talent, Workforce and HRSD solutions into Infor’s more than 75,000 clients regardless of core HRM solutions in place. (Note that the Workbrain and Enwisen solutions are already ERP/HR/Payroll system agnostic).

6. Infrastructure Investments for Scale and Value-Add

Infor hired almost 500 additional developers in 2011, bringing the total to 3400 individuals worldwide who are developing applications at Infor. They also centralized their development in common technology areas to increase agility and innovation, allowing the solution areas to staff up with deep industry and domain expertise. Infor has also created a new Value Analysis (VA) team, whose job it is to build out a reference architecture for customers and prospects so that a personalized ROI analysis can be developed, and in the future, upon which industry benchmarking will be provided. The vision is not unlike that of SAP’s Value Engineering organization, and this will be a beneficial service for Infor HCM clients over time as the team and HCM engagement experience grows.

7. “Purposefully Hybrid” Deployment

Infor has adopted a “purposefully hybrid” strategy, allowing customers to deploy in the cloud, on-premises or a combination of the two. Phillips sees only advantages in this hybrid approach and says this is the company’s long-term strategy to ensure maximum customer choice, not a stopgap measure on the way to pure Cloud.

There are obvious complexities for a hybrid model, and Infor is not immune to them. Product overlap is one immediate challenge. The Lawson HR, Lawson TM, Enwisen (SaaS only) and Workbrain solutions comprise the “destination platform” for Infor10 HCM, but additional HCM solutions continue to be offered that pull product, sales, services and support resources away from the core:

Overall, the hybrid strategy enables Infor to sell into a broader market than pure-play SaaS providers, as many customers are not yet ready to embrace HCM in the cloud. (However, the lack of an on-premise offering does not seem to be slowing the growth rates of vendors like Ultimate Software and Workday.) When competing against SAP and Oracle, Infor is at least on equal footing in this area, as their support for both on premise and cloud aligns with the approaches adopted by SAP, Oracle and others as they manage the realities of solution platforms comprised of multiple acquisitions. Success can follow if they are able to keep on premise customers current with the latest releases, maintain a rapid pace of innovation and truly make solution interoperability seamless and painless for their clients (still an aspirational goal at this point).

The Bottom Line

The changes effected across operations and products over the past 12-18 months seem to be working for Infor, as evidenced by their claim in January 2012 of 17% license growth and four consecutive quarters of double-digit growth, with growth in the HCM area especially strong. (Note Infor is a privately held enterprise and as such does not publish financial statements.) Infor is touting an operating model that allows them to remain private, but they did not rule out going public when the time was right. Charles Phillips also indicated that additional acquisitions would take place, most likely in the area of deep industry requirements.

It’s been fewer than 8 months since the acquisition of Lawson, not much time to make significant changes in product, but enough to demonstrate continued commitment. Infor has a good start in this area, and delivering on planned releases in upcoming months will be an important confirmation of that commitment.

In April, I’ll be at the Infor Lawson Users Conference, Inforum 2012, where I’ll look forward to more details and proof points demonstrating how the Lawson HCM suite is capitalizing on the Infor10 suite innovations deliver the next generation of Infor HCM. If you are not attending Inforum 2012 yourself, I am happy to serve as your proxy, taking your questions forward and providing a follow-up post after April’s event.

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