Infor Delivers IBM i-Based Cloud ERP for Automakers, M3 Update
July 15, 2015 Alex Woodie
In June Infor delivered two products that are relevant to its IBM i installed base, including the 13.3 release of its M3 ERP suite and a new IBM i-based offering called AutoRelease Cloud. The new cloud version of AutoRelease, which is based on an iSeries-based product once used by more than 100 companies in the automotive business, includes software from Infor’s business partner InterForm A/S.
Infor has been trying to get customers to upgrade from older versions of CRM AutoRelease for the better part of 10 years. Four years ago, the company had about 130 customers running the i5/OS-based product, which had important software components that were not compatible with IBM i 6.1.
In particular, the old JetForm output management software that Infor used in CRM AutoRelease posed a problem. The JetForm software was obtained by Adobe with its 2002 acquisition of Accelio, but Adobe decided not to support a follow-up to JetForm (called LiveCycle ES2) on IBM i. That’s where the Danish company InterForm and its ArtForm software comes into play.
While Infor has been selling a newer version of its CRM AutoRelease software since 2011, apparently there hasn’t been a big rush to adopt it. (If IBM i shops in general are slow to upgrade from older systems and operating systems, then companies in the uber-conservative automotive supply chain are even worse.)
That’s where the new cloud version of AutoRelease comes in. “This release helps minimize risk for Infor AutoRelease customers that have not upgraded their iSeries platforms to current or supported levels, by providing a cost effective alternative to upgrading their hardware, operating systems and [ERP] solutions,” the company says.
The IBM i-based cloud offering (Infor still uses the old iSeries parlance) helps “automotive manufacturers and OEM providers to stay compliant with [EDI] trading partners without incurring the added capital expenses associated with full ERP upgrades,” the company says.
Jeff Rheingans, senior director of the automotive segment at Infor, says the company recognizes that customers have varying levels of ability, and therefore Infor must adapt to those needs. “With Infor AutoRelease Cloud, customers can modernize their technology footprint without the need for a full ERP upgrade,” Rheingans says.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Infor empire, an update to the M3 product (formerly Intentia/Lawson Movex) is unfolding. M3 version 13.3 brings a little something to customers across several industries.
For example, companies in the food and beverage business (one of M3’s top verticals) will benefit with the new Grower Contract Management module. Customers in the fashion biz (another M3 strength) get new functionality in the areas of finished goods allocation, mass maintenance, and matrix improvements. Companies in the heavy equipment business (where M3 also thrives) will see improvements in the rental, service, and parts sales processes, as well as a new project portal. A new Quality Management module will also help customers in various industries.
All told, Infor delivered more than 200 improvements with 13.3, which Infor says is the second release built on version 13.x infrastructure (don’t let the “3” fool you). The addition of language packs for Turkish and Russian enable the product to support 18 languages, covering 43 countries, according to Infor.
M3 is one of Infor’s top ERP platforms, and therefore has received the “Infor 10x” treatment, which means it works with the ION middleware and supports the Ming.le social business software. Infor is also using the “H5” thin client with this release, which the company says makes it easier to export data to Excel. It’s also including the Web Mashup software development kit (SDK) and new configuration capabilities to “help customers tailor the user experience down to the role or individual level.”