What's bad about Birst

"Everything else is not a cloud"

Jörg Jung from Infor:

Jörg Jung has been managing the Central and Eastern Europe regions at the ERP manufacturer Infor for more than two years. During this period, the software provider was able to almost double its business, noted Jung in an interview with IT & Production. In particular, sales of cloud solutions seem to be humming: In the last two years, sales with multi-tenant solutions have increased by a factor of ten worldwide.

(Image: Infor (Deutschland) GmbH)

You have been one of the responsible managing directors at Infor for around two years. As our preliminary talk showed, things are not going badly.

Jörg Jung: We have almost doubled our software business in the past two years. In our region, we have exceeded our global goal of growing significantly faster than the market. Today Infor is the third largest software provider worldwide. The whole thing is strongly driven by the cloud business, which we were able to expand by a factor of ten in two years - for very different reasons. But in essence, companies want to get out of the corset that their existing IT has put on them. In the segment between 500 million and five billion US dollars in sales, we are encountering more and more such companies.

What does it mean when Infor speaks of cloud computing: public cloud, hybrid cloud or a mixed operation?

Young: By definition, cloud computing can only be multi-tenant and thus a public cloud. Everything else is not a cloud, even if it is called that by many companies. Single Tenant, Private Cloud and Hosting Manage Service - this is all on-premise software and it is installed that way. It is old and not scalable from the go-live. Upgrades must first be installed for every innovation.

How important is manufacturing revenue to Infor?

Young: The manufacturing industry is our most important sector, and we are certainly the largest and most successful in the automotive sector. We are also doing well in mechanical engineering and the process industry. Of course we are also active in the areas of distribution, trade, public sector and hospitality. Above all, Infor stands for discrete manufacturing and the process industries.

Infor recently acquired the cloud BI provider Birst, although there is already a business intelligence solution in its portfolio.

Young: It was a strategic acquisition. Infor BI has often been combined with our enterprise performance management solution. The focus was more on processes such as budgeting, planning, performance management, cash management and consolidation - the right software for the Chief Financial Officer's office. Birst, on the other hand, brings us business intelligence tools that go far beyond classic reporting based on ERP data. This is about questions that can only be answered with data from different systems: How efficient is my process or how do I repair a machine as efficiently as possible? What sounds simple is actually highly complex and has little to do with traditional reporting. With Birst you can perfectly combine separate process steps from independently operating systems into one process.

Is that a new challenge for companies?

Young: Companies today have a lot of data available from different systems. There is little you can do with it, as the data across the different systems is not brought together. But they need that to evaluate, for example, why one customer is profitable while the other is not. The companies also notice that manufacturing a product alone is no longer enough. The companies deal intensively with the concept of service. The limits that isolated individual systems set for such new data-based business models are being tolerated less and less. Managers need dashboards from which they can pull information from any application without worrying about the software itself. This can be achieved with a BI system from the cloud. At the next level of business intelligence, self-learning systems could be created with the help of artificial intelligence, which proactively make suggestions and recognize interactions between sales, product quality and personnel decisions.

How far are we from such scenarios?

Young: Our customers can already dig deep into their systems, for example to identify specific need for action. We are still a long way away from the full use of artificial intelligence. Use cases are currently being tested across the industry. However, these often serve more as a trade fair showcase.

Thank you for the interview. (ppr)


Jörg Jung is Managing Director and Executive Vice President, General Manager EMEA Central & South at Infor. His goal is to provide the best possible technological support for existing customers in their digital transformation and to further increase Infor's market share. After studying business administration and international management in Germany and Sweden, Jung held high-ranking positions at SAP and T-Systems and, as managing director of Unit4, was able to ensure growth in the DACH region before joining Infor.