Infor, a provider of business applications specialized by industry and built for the cloud, recently announced Infor Cloudsuite Retail, a new, modern suite of enterprise applications delivered in the cloud and designed for today’s retailing landscape. In addition, Infor announced the formation of a dedicated retail business unit, operating with the nimbleness and flexibility of an independent start-up, with access to the resources and scale of a nearly $3bn enterprise applications giant.
“In the 20 years since today’s legacy retail solutions were created, technology and consumer behavior have changed significantly, turning the industry on its head and leaving retailers scrambling to patch together bolt-on applications just to keep pace,” said Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor. “By partnering with industry leaders, Infor will deliver a next-generation suite that takes advantage of modern, cloud technology to help retailers transform the way they merchandise and serve customers in a digital world.”
“Most retailers have cobbled together a hodge podge of retail solutions architected in the past century, they seek new modern solutions that given them a digital advantage in not only a single item master, but also in taking advantage of cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence,” said R. “Ray” Wang, principal analyst and founder, Constellation Research. “Retailers want more than just the latest technology, they want to bring the content, network and technology together to transform their business models.”
Expected to be delivered in 2016, key design principles upon which Infor CloudSuite Retail is being built are:
Cloud – The advantages of cloud include not only multi-tenancy securely hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and upgrades with minimal downtime and interruption, but also access to supercomputing on a massive scale that transforms data analysis and decision-making.
Modern Technology – Open source technology (e.g., Hadoop, Node.js) is what modern cloud companies are built on. Utilizing modern and open source technology will enable retailers to manage massive amounts of real-time data in ways that were not available before.
Network – Putting the supply chain on the network (e.g., items, orders) will enable retailers to orchestrate the supply across a network of suppliers and partners on behalf of customers. GT Nexus, an Infor company and one of the world's largest cloud-based global commerce platforms, will help retailers to act as interconnected, agile business networks that operate far more efficiently and much more quickly than they do today.
Unification of Disparate Systems – Infor CloudSuite Retail will unify disparate systems and data stores that have grown up over the last 20 years to support the evolving landscape of retailing (e.g., ecommerce, social, MDM, etc.). It is not uncommon for retailers to have 10+ different systems that manage items and inventory, with redundant data and business logic. Planning and optimizations systems are distinct and disconnected from execution systems. Traditional merchandising systems are different than ecommerce systems. Unifying these into one elegant solution will drive efficiencies, alignment, and speed.
Big Data & Machine Learning – A big data architecture will allow retailers to be data rich, atomic rich, attribute intensive, and will allow them to run to petabytes. Applying machine learning against this data on AWS, which functions as an enormous elastic supercomputer, will help drive breakthrough decision-making. Scientists at Infor Dynamic Science Labs are leading the data revolution for Infor CloudSuite Retail.
Digital – This is the dawn of the digital revolution in retailing. A modern merchandising solution will put marketing and customers at the core, promoting collaboration among merchandisers and marketers to synchronize activities that shape demand, and enabling merchandising to be part of the digital strategy.
API-based – The modern Web is API-based. Infor CloudSuite Retail will make it easier to integrate with other solutions versus current legacy approaches that are batch based and hard to implement. This approach will also allow retailers to open up their capabilities and assets via APIs to business partners that want to digitally innovate on their retailing platform.
User Experience – Hook & Loop, Infor’s Manhattan-based internal creative agency, crafts an experience starting with user needs to create intuitive, elegant, engaging, and beautiful experiences. Antique forms-based interactions are replaced with a user experience that is mobile, touch and gesture-based, contextual, search driven, and employs gamification. Infor is leveraging Whole Foods Market stores as living, functional labs for designing experiences merchants love.
“Retailers have known for years their software has not kept up with the times, so by leveraging our industry relationships we are working to fix that and ensure Infor CloudSuite Retail is relevant for every user,” said Corey Tollefson, SVP of Infor and head of Infor’s retail business unit. “Retailers need to orchestrate complex supply chains to satisfy customer demand across an increasingly diverse set of channels; they spend millions on marketing, but don’t have the tools to go beyond a transactional experience to provide the personalization that will keep customers coming back. We have the passion to attempt something great and the scale to make it a reality."