Infinium Attempts To Better Gain Some Markets' Ear

Infinium Attempts To Better Gain Some Markets' Ear
P.J. Jakovljevic - March 22, 2001

Event Summary

On February 26, Infinium (NASDAQ: INFM), a provider of e-business solutions and ASP services for certain industries, announced that it has formed a joint-marketing partnership with Richer Systems Group Inc. (RSG), the developer of Enrich, a real-time fleet management solution for the transportation industry. RSG's Enrich suite of transportation software solutions was designed with the input of many of North America's leading truck rental, leasing and commercial trucking companies, to address the unique business pains and needs of the for-hire segment of the transportation industry.

Infinium, on the other hand, strives to be the transportation industry's preferred provider of human resource and financial enterprise business solutions. It delivers a line of industry-specific enterprise business, CRM and business intelligence solutions, ASP offerings, and services and support tailored to the stringent requirements of the round-the-clock, complex operations of this dynamic industry. Infinium touts that its solutions are deployed at more than 35% of the Top 100 fastest growing carriers in the United States, according to the Transport Topics 100. Infinium's customers represent many of the largest, most respected names in the transportation industry and include Averitt Express, Covenant Transport, Fed Ex Supply Chain Services, Kuhne & Nagel, Maverick Transportation, MS Carriers, SAIA Motor Freight Line, US Xpress, and Viking Freight, among many others.

"Infinium's innovative vision, product and partner strategy addresses the evolving needs of organizations within the transportation industry," said Tom Piatak, Vice President of Transportation at Infinium. "We're confident in our ability to transition the transportation market to the e-market, and with Richer Systems Group, further our leadership position within this fast-paced, 24x7 industry."

On another matter, Infinium has indicated in recent conversations with TEC that it has devised a strategy to more aggressively exploit the opportunities within the process manufacturing market. Although the company has long (since the mid 90s) offered a solid product for certain process manufacturing segments, it admits that it has not been successful in creating a strong brand name and a mind share. In accordance with our recent articles that regard the dearth of viable products within this segment (for more information, see SCT Corporation: The Last Viable Process Manufacturing Vendor Standing? and Process ERP Market Loses PRISM and Protean), the company has recognized an apparent opportunity and claims to have achieved significant contract wins since the second half of 2000.

One of them dates back to September 2000, when Luster Products, Inc., a manufacturer of premium hair care products, selected Infinium to provide fully integrated, Web-based enterprise business solutions. As part of strategic initiatives to support its continued growth, Luster Products began evaluating new, fully-integrated front-to-back-office business solutions. As a result, Luster selected Infinium to provide Infinium Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Infinium Financial Management, Infinium Human Resources, Infinium Materials Management, Infinium Process Manufacturing, and Infinium Business Intelligence Analytics, tightly-integrated with solutions from strategic partners FRx Software Corporation, Knosys, Inc., and ShowCase Corporation with a total contract value of approximately $1.1 million, including professional services and support.

Market Impact

Vertical focus is the way to go and Infinium seems to be on the right track with the above announcements. Infinium, like most of its competitors, has experienced difficulties in 2000 that put the company through serious soul-searching and tough decision-making (for more information, see Infinium Ends Its Most Challenging Year). To that end, during 2000, the company has refurbished (expanded the functionality scope and Web-enabled) much of its product suite, and refocused itself on an e-Business strategy built on its solid ERP foundation. The company has also been reorganized to focus on three key initiatives: customer relationship management (CRM), e-Business applications, and the ASP business. To deliver these, Infinium has taken a flexible approach to acquire, internally develop, and/or partner. The recent moves represent the continuation of its 2000's efforts.

Infinium's enterprise business solutions include customer relationship management (CRM), human resources/payroll, financials, supply chain, e-procurement, and business analytics. In addition, Infinium offers complete industry-specific solutions for process manufacturers, and partners to provide end-to-end solutions for the hospitality and transportation industries. While the company is the undisputed leader in the hospitality & gaming industry and is a strong player in the transportation industry, it will have its work cut out to gain significant market recognition within the process manufacturing segment.

The product seems to be a good fit only for certain areas within process manufacturing, those that entail medium-to large sized enterprises with small-to-medium sized plants that run in the batch (vs. continuous) manufacturing mode. It features strengths in formula/recipe management, product costing, laboratory inspection and hazardous material control (e.g., material safety data sheet - MSDS and SARA reporting) functions that make it a good solution for specialty chemical industries (e.g., paints and coatings, adhesives, pharmaceutical prep., chemical prep., industrial organic chemicals, and plastics). On the other hand, while the company has indicated it intends to deliver functionality for the food & beverage industry, it has provided neither a time frame nor details on the scope of the intended enhancements. A further limitation is the product's confinement to the IBM AS/400 platform.

Nevertheless, the low penetration of the process manufacturing market remains the company's opportunity, and it may have a fair shot at pursuing it. Infinium should, without any delay, launch an aggressive marketing campaign that would explain its strengths like the integration of CRM, back-office, e-procurement and business analytics applications as well as the product's availability through an ASP business model. The ongoing series of seminars nationwide named "Discover the new generation of ERP" is a good step in that direction.

The company should also demonstrate in a more perspicacious manner its commitment to further invest in its process manufacturing solution. Further, its ASP strategy to provide a holistic, turnkey solution may obfuscate the AS/400 platform confinement. Supplying all elements of ASP business combined with Infinium's readiness to accommodate customizations may alleviate customers' initial reticence to venture into still uncertain land of ASP.

User Recommendations

Infinium's potential and current customers should certainly consider the new product offerings, but avoid a selection without looking at what the other vendors have to offer. We encourage users to familiarize themselves with the company's above-mentioned ambitious new products offerings and their availability, at least to better leverage their negotiating position with other vendors involved in a particular selection exercise. For a deeper analysis of Infinium and more comprehensive user recommendations (see Infinium Software Inc.: Having All the Right Cards?).

As for potential Infinium process manufacturing users our advice would be:

  • Evaluate Infinium if you are a small to medium, batch process manufacturing company,

  • Bear in mind that if the non-process manufacturing items (e.g., HR/payroll, CRM, etc.) are also critical to you, then Infinium brings added value to the table, although the integration should be validated during the technical review sessions as a part of a thorough selection process.

  • During the selection process, question the company's executives about the positioning of its process manufacturing offering within the total business strategy of Infinium.

  • Talk to or visit existing users to access their confidence in the future of Infinium's process manufacturing product and its track record relative to meeting process industry needs.

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