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Interview: Infor Executives on SaaS business growth plans

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TECHx Editor Rabab Zehra secured an exclusive interview with Joerg Jung, Executive Vice President EMEA at Infor, and Amel Gardner, VP and GM, MEA at Infor to discuss the company’s expansion plans for SaaS business, the impact of COVID on SaaS offerings & Infor’s successful Q1.

TECHx: How does Infor support the expansion of cloud and SaaS solutions? What makes your approach stand out from the market?

Jörg Jung: Cloud is one of the most misused terms in our industry, because there is such a broad spectrum of operations, from multi-tenant, always-on SaaS, all the way down to basic hosting. Everyone’s talking about cloud, and everybody wants to be perceived as a technology leader with multi-tenant SaaS solutions.

More than 10 years ago, Infor made a strategic decision to solely focus on cloud-based services in the future. We are the only company in our industry and peer group to provide a true multi-tenant SaaS solution. We perceive ourselves as a clear technology leader, and as a cloud leader in the industry. We teamed up with AWS as our sole hyperscaler a decade ago, and it proved to be a good strategic decision.

We have a variety of solution offerings in our portfolio, and all of our applications, from ERP solutions to supply chain management, product lifecycle management, Enterprise Asset Management, HR, customer and experience, are in the multi-tenant cloud and seamlessly integrated with each other. 

TECHx: Amel, you just took over as Vice President and General Manager at Infor. How do you intend to grow Infor’s SaaS business in the dynamic, fast-evolving Middle East market?

Amel Gardner: My priority since joining Infor in January has been to align the regional strategy with our corporate strategy, which is for Infor to be an industry-first cloud company. Our strategy is to offer cloud-first solutions for our customers in the specific sectors that we have decided to focus on, which are distribution, manufacturing services, and asset management.

There are four pillars to our regional growth plan. The first pillar is to grow our cloud business, as our cloud-based solutions bring maximum benefits to customers. The second pillar is to actively develop the partner ecosystem, which is essential to accelerate growth in a region as large and diverse as MEA. We have already started to strengthen our partner business: In April we hired Mohamed Taha as senior director of channels & alliances in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, and there will be more announcements in the coming months.

The third pillar is to elevate our visibility in the region and we’re achieving this by hosting and participating in carefully planned customer events including seminars, conferences, and larger trade shows such as GITEX, which we will be exhibiting this year.

The fourth pillar is to continue strengthening the team with the skills we need to execute our strategy. We are identifying gaps in the organization in terms of talent and functions so that we can hire the right people to drive our strategy forwards.

TECHx: Do you believe the COVID 19 outbreak has had an impact on Middle Eastern SaaS offerings? What do you think the future of SaaS is, given the current situation?

Amel Gardner: The pandemic sparked a surge of interest in cloud-based technology and applications across all sectors. I believe that post-Covid, organizations will continue to digitally transform and push for a digital-first approach, while also supporting remote work.

Jörg Jung: The COVID-19 crisis has really proven two things. First, the world is moving to digital, and this trend has accelerated significantly. Second, it is clear now to everybody that the only way forward is true multi-tenant cloud solutions, which provide unparalleled levels of flexibility and agility.

As with many crises, the COVID-19 pandemic also brought opportunities. I’ve always said, ‘Don’t waste a crisis.’ If you believe you can just sit out a crisis, do nothing and be in better shape once the crisis is over, you’re completely wrong. The problem is that some organizations did exactly that: their business was heavily impacted by COVID-19, and they were too afraid to implement change or invest, and so they just held back. These organizations need to move forward and continue to innovate, otherwise, it will be very difficult to remain competitive.

I also see many organizations that are keen to start implementing transformational digital technologies. Many of these organizations previously implemented digital solutions which failed to deliver on the promises of the vendors, but they just made do with them because it was the path of least resistance. But now, following the pandemic, I believe many of these organizations will be keen to replace their inadequate systems with first rate solutions capable of propelling their organization to the next level. I see a huge interest from companies that are saying, ‘’Can you do something different than what I have today? I’m sick of what I’m having today. You’re perceived to be the leader in this industry, so show me what you have.’’ This is where we see a significant acceleration. 

TECHx: What were the driving factors behind Infor’s successful Q1? What can the market expect from the company in the coming months?

Jörg Jung: We want to be the leader when it comes to industry specific cloud solutions, and we now have a significant advantage over most of our competitors in the market in our capability to deliver this. Our target is very simple: We want to be the fastest-growing cloud software company in the region.

Our second goal is to quintuple our cloud business in the next five years. If you want to grow your business fivefold in the next five years, you need a CAGR of more than 40%. It’s simple math: If you want to be the fastest-growing cloud company in the region, you have to grow north of 40%, and that is really the goal. Right now, we are doing very well against the growth targets from an EMEA point of view.

Amel Gardner: In the Middle East we are on the right trajectory and we had a very good Q1, with three figure growth year-over-year.  This indicates that we can achieve even more if we continue to focus, invest in the right resources in the region, develop our ecosystem, and continue along a path of continual improvement.

We are very clear about how to accomplish our growth targets in the region. We have a well-defined go-to-market, which we lacked before. This means we can focus our resources far better on our key markets of distribution, manufacturing services, and asset management.

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