Infor's AI and Sustainability Push: Growth Plans for India

In an insightful discussion with Dataquest's Executive Editor, Infor's leadership team, including Terry Smagh, Phil Lewis, and Wolfgang Kobek, outlines Infor's strategic direction and technological advancements in the Indian market.

Minu Sirsalewala
New Update

In a compelling discussion with Infor's leadership team, Terry Smagh, Senior Vice President & GM - Asia Pacific Japan, Infor, Phil Lewis, Sr. Vice President, Solution Consulting International (EMEA & APJ), Infor, and Wolfgang Kobek, Executive Vice President & GM International Business, Infor; Minu Sirsalewala, Executive Editor, Dataquest, explores the company's strategic direction, technological advancements, and future plans, particularly within the Indian market. Infor, a leading provider of business cloud software solutions designed for modern enterprises, is making significant strides in integrating artificial intelligence (AI), sustainability practices, and industry-specific solutions into its offerings. This insightful conversation sheds light on how Infor is strategically positioning itself to address evolving market demands, enhance operational efficiencies, and drive sustainable growth across diverse sectors.


How is Infor uniquely positioned to address ESG concerns and drive profitability for Indian businesses, and what role do customization and partnerships play in this strategy?

Terry Smagh: Infor's GenAI is more than just an advanced AI tool; it is deeply integrated within our industry-specific cloud suites. This focus on specific industries is crucial for effectively addressing ESG concerns. For instance, in the manufacturing sector, AI can optimize processes, reduce waste, and improve resource utilization, directly contributing to sustainability goals. In India, where labor costs are relatively low, our GenAI solutions are designed to enhance efficiency and reduce downtime, making businesses more agile and adaptable.

India is a strategic growth area for Infor, and we have tripled our investment there, particularly expanding our teams in Hyderabad across sales, consulting, and development. This expansion ensures that our solutions are customized to meet the unique needs of Indian businesses, enhancing their operational efficiency and profitability.


Our strategic partnership with AWS is another key differentiator. By leveraging AWS's robust, scalable, and reliable cloud infrastructure, we ensure our solutions are cutting-edge and well-supported. This partnership allows us to benefit from AWS's significant R&D investments, providing our clients access to the latest technology advancements.

In the broader ERP market, Infor sets itself apart by offering industry-specific cloud solutions, especially in Automotive, Food & Beverage, and Industrial Manufacturing sectors in India. While other ERP players like SAP and Oracle may handle front-end financial aspects, Infor excels in shop floor operations and core manufacturing functionalities, where the real operational challenges and opportunities for improvement lie. This comprehensive approach ensures that we can address both the ESG concerns and profitability goals of our Indian customers effectively. 

What is Infor's vision for growth in the Indian market? Can you elaborate on Infor's leadership and technology investments in India?


Wolfgang Kobek: India represents a massive opportunity for Infor. We're strategically over-investing in resources, partner enablement, and recruitment to capitalize on this potential. Our direct sales force is doubling, and we're heavily investing in building a strong partner ecosystem. These efforts are already translating into double-digit growth rates, exceeding our growth in other regions. Government support and a thriving economy make us confident that India will be a major growth engine for Infor in the coming years.

Terry Smagh: Our commitment to India is reflected in our revamped sales leadership team. We have recently announced India leadership to now lead our India operations. Additionally, we leverage our vast Global Development Center (GDS) with 4,000 employees. This ensures close proximity to Indian customers and allows us to be responsive to their needs. We actively share technology roadmaps with our Indian customers, demonstrating our focus on continuous innovation and alignment with their evolving requirements.

How is Infor building its partner network in India?


Terry Smagh: Currently, we have 5-6 core partners, but we're actively expanding our network with a two-tiered approach. We're strengthening key alliances with established players and building a robust channel partner network. This strategy allows us to leverage diverse expertise and expand our reach across the Indian market.

How is Infor addressing data residency concerns in India?

Wolfgang Kobek: We understand the Indian government's data residency requirements, particularly in aerospace and defense. To address this, we're establishing a data center in India, which will be operational by next year. Currently, SaaS customer data resides in Frankfurt, but the India data center will ensure local data storage, complying with government regulations and enhancing data security.


How is Infor approaching the integration of AI within its ERP solutions, addressing security concerns?

Wolfgang Kobek: We take a different approach than just offering generic AI bolted onto existing products. Over a decade ago, Infor made a strategic decision to completely re-engineer our products for the cloud as multi-tenant solutions. This approach allows for continuous innovation and secure integration of AI functionalities.

Phil Lewis: Our core belief is that a one-size-fits-all ERP doesn't work. We focus on industry specificity – with different ERP cores tailored for discrete manufacturing, process & distribution, and service industries. These cores are surrounded by industry-specific applications like WMS and supply chain solutions.


For this we have built a Secure and Integrated Platform (Infor OS): Infor OS is our core technology platform, initially designed for seamless integration across industry-specific applications. This evolved into the Infor Cloud Suite platform in the cloud era.

We prioritize data management and user experience with Infor OS. This platform offers capabilities like:

Data Management & Strategy


Automation (back-end & front-end)

AI-driven insights, automation, and predictive capabilities

Differentiation in AI Integration?

Unlike competitors offering generic AI, Infor pre-integrates AI functionalities within our platform. We handle deployment, connection, and data preparation, ensuring seamless and ready-to-use AI solutions for customers. Our "data fabric" within Infor OS enables a secure and centralized data repository (data lake) accessible across applications. This eliminates the need for customers to build their own data infrastructure.

Are you also responsible for data custody when it comes to training AI? How do you manage data security?

Phil Lewis: Data security and privacy are paramount for Infor. We adhere to stringent data management practices, ensuring that our customers' data is protected at all times. Infor leverages a sophisticated "data fabric" within its technology platform. This multi-layered approach caters to Infor and non-Infor applications, acknowledging that customers often utilize solutions from various vendors. The data fabric essentially creates a centralized enterprise-wide data repository hosted on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform.

Infor leverages AWS's robust security infrastructure and extensive R&D budget. We are the largest technology partner of AWS, utilizing over 20 of their services.

We complement AWS services with open-source technologies to deliver cutting-edge solutions. Our recent April release introduced GenAI, further enhancing efficiency across our Cloud Suite platform.

Examples include AI-powered HR functionalities like automated job description creation, saving time and resources.

The most common applications people discuss often involve non-critical tasks. Do you foresee some heavy-duty usage going forward?

Phil Lewis: Absolutely. We have some fantastic use cases already, even though it was only released last month. In the aerospace and defence sector, for example, one use case involves generating executive summaries for very complex projects within seconds, a task that previously took days. These summaries don't just compile information about the project's status; they also provide recommendations for potential actions. This is especially valuable for complex projects like building a jet fighter or a tank. We also use GenAI to compare projects or contracts, providing actionable advice and recommendations based on the comparisons.

There's been a focus on efficiency. What kind of efficiency improvements have you seen, particularly regarding automation and data management?

Phil Lewis: The efficiency improvements vary by use case. One example is an AI-driven and RPA-driven automation flow for invoice processing and matching. What used to be a manual process—scanning documents and extracting information—can now be completely automated using our technology. We offer this as part of our Value Plus content to all customers, not just as a one-off solution. In this specific use case, we've seen a 72% increase in productivity per invoice. While the exact productivity gain depends on the scenario, across various use cases, we consistently see significant efficiency and productivity improvements.

You've identified the automotive sector. Is this focus related to sustainability, given the sector's emphasis on green initiatives? Was this a conscious decision?

Phil Lewis: Sustainability is crucial across all sectors. In Europe, we've had an early warning sign due to the EU's efforts. They set global standards with GDPR, and the same is happening with ESG. The EU has developed the ASRS for sustainability reporting, alongside the GRI standards. These are becoming global standards for reporting sustainability positions.

Thanks to our technology layer, we don't need to build specific ESG capabilities into each solution. Instead, we integrate ESG into our platform's technology layer, leveraging existing data, reporting capabilities, and BI and analytical tools. This approach allows us to create ESG content that benefits all our customers, whether they're in automotive, food and beverage, fashion, or healthcare. We build once and deploy across many industries, ensuring all customers benefit from our connected platform. 

Are you also seeing specific cloud-native trends? We hear mixed things about moving back on-prem. What’s the real scenario, and what forthcoming trends do you think will be disruptive?

Terry Smagh: AI is evolving rapidly, as are its needs. Not long ago, RPA was the biggest buzz, but it was mainly focused on FTE reduction. Now, AI and ESG activities align with corporate vision, integrating deeply into technology. Working with AWS accelerates this progress because they move at lightning speed. We consciously chose to be a multi-tenant cloud provider, even when hybrid and native clouds were the big topics.

Phil Lewis: From a technology perspective, composability is a major trend. There's a strong demand for technology vendors to provide a composable framework, offering choice and flexibility. If a customer wants to use for CRM, Workday for HR, and Infor for manufacturing and ERP, they should be able to integrate these seamlessly. Our Infor OS platform supports this by providing a composable, open framework, not locked into Infor alone. This includes solution composition, data composition, and business process composition, ensuring a single, cohesive business process.

Once customers have composable solutions, they seek to optimize and transform their businesses. This is where automation and AI come in. We don't view AI as a standalone tool but as a technology that enhances all aspects of our solutions. Workflows become intelligent, reporting and analytics become more insightful, and warehouse management, for example, becomes intelligent. Our goal is hyper-productivity, helping our customers significantly boost productivity.

Technologies like ChatGPT and GenAI, which were barely mentioned 12 months ago, are now dominant. This rapid change requires us to stay agile and dynamic, ensuring we're ready to react and meet our customers' needs. 

Are you more focused on establishing and scaling your own operations, or are you looking to engage with the cloud-native startup ecosystem?

Terry Smagh: In India, we're making significant investments to build a sustainable business. Customer satisfaction and retention are critical for us. To scale effectively, we leverage our partners, ensuring we provide value and satisfaction to our customers.

Wolfgang Kobek: Our role, especially in the industry, extends beyond being an ERP provider. We aim to help customers understand and adopt new technologies. Implementing an ERP might not be popular, but it's essential, and once done, it brings immense benefits. Through solutions like Value Plus, we want customers to see the business value of AI and RPA technologies. We're also investing in customer success and care, bringing major innovations every six months to ensure continuous improvement and value delivery.