Infinium Returns To Its Core Competencies To Succeed Part 1: Recent Announcements

Event Summary

On May 8, Infinium Software (NASDAQ: INFM), a provider of Web-integrated enterprise business solutions, announced that Rampart Resort Management, operators of The Rampart Casino at the Resort at Summerlin and owner/operators of The Cannery Hotel and Casino, selected Infinium Financial Management, Human Resources, and Payroll solutions to support its ambitious expansion and growth strategies. In an effort to provide its patrons with a world-class gaming experience, Rampart Resort Management is investing $6 million in The Rampart Casino at the Resort at Summerlin to renovate the property to better serve its patrons, more than double its hotels convention space, and hire up to 150 people to join the casinos 310-person workforce in time for its "Grand Re-Opening" set for June, 2002.

In support of its ambitious expansion and growth strategies, Rampart Resort Management began to evaluate enterprise business solutions and reportedly narrowed their search to include: PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards, and Infinium. Rampart Resort Management reportedly selected Infinium because of its long-established, in-depth understanding and commitment to the hospitality and gaming industry; its over 20 year commitment to the IBM iSeries (formerly AS/400) platform, which is regarded by many to offer strong platform reliability at the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO); its iSeries channel partnership with Computer Configuration Services (CCS); its competitive functionality, utilization of innovative technologies, rapid implementations, and outstanding customer service. Infinium's solutions are used at more than 60% of the Fortune 500 companies in the hospitality industry, approximately 90% of the hotels and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, and 100% of the Fortune 500 companies in the gaming industry.

To illustrate its unrelenting commitment to the iSeries platform, on April 29, Infinium announced that it has signed IBM eServer iSeries channel partnership agreements with Computer Configuration Services (CCS); Dynamix Group; Essex Technology Group, Inc.; Inter-American Data, Inc. (IAD); Mainline Information Systems, Inc.; and Sirius Computer Solutions (SCS) to increase its revenues and grow its customer base. As part of Infinium's relationship with its new IBM iSeries channel partners, those partners' sales forces will become an extension of Infinium's direct sales force. Infinium and its iSeries channel partners will allocate internal resources to develop joint marketing programs that promote their respective offerings and enhance their awareness within targeted markets, generate sales leads, and ultimately, drive new business revenues. All of Infiniums iSeries channel partners were selected by Infinium based on several, specific criteria including: number of existing customers, number of U.S. sales representatives, geographical coverage, technical competence, and vertical market expertise, among others.

Further, in its endeavor to create another strong vertical industry awareness, on April 23, Infinium announced that Catholic Medical Center, a 330-bed full-service healthcare facility in Manchester, NH, selected Infinium's Financial Management and Materials Management solutions to streamline its non-clinical operations. As part of its strategic initiatives to reduce costs and enhance operating efficiencies, Catholic Medical Center reportedly began evaluating high return-on-value (ROV), low TOC enterprise business solutions and selected Infinium's solutions to streamline and automate its processes to reduce the time and money spent on its non-clinical operations, freeing those resources to focus on delivering the highest-quality of patient care. More than 100 healthcare organizations, ranging in size from 100 to 800-plus beds, reportedly rely on Infinium's solutions to help streamline their non-clinical business operations, reduce administrative costs, and maximize their capital and human resources. Infinium believes its solutions provide healthcare organizations with the ability to:

  • Reduce administrative costs
  • Streamline business processes and improve workflow
  • Manage constant change
  • Recruit, retain, and maximize the value of professional staff
  • Ensure compliance with JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 300 regulations
  • Interface easily with leading insurance processing, medical practice, clinical information, and inventory and supply management solutions

To point out success in its third vertical industry of focus, on March 28, Infinium announced that Crest Foods Company, a process manufacturer with ingredient, consumer products and contract packaging divisions, enhances the efficiency and increases the productivity of its operations with Infinium's Process ERP solution. Infinium's integrated Process ERP solution, which includes: Process Manufacturing, Materials Management, Human Resources (HR), and Financial Management, streamlines Crest Foods operations, from formula to accounting, and unites everyone in its organization, from operations managers to the CFO. All departments, from human resources to shipping, reportedly operate from the same page, with the same updated information, creating administrative efficiencies from division to division and allowing for timely adjustments according to market demands and fluctuations.

For example, Infinium Advanced Planning helps Crest Foods production planners, schedulers, and buyers determine a time-phased production schedule and calculate the amount of critical resources needed to fulfill it on time. Thereafter, Crest Foods scheduled requirements are fed into Infinium Purchase Management and Manufacturing Control to automatically create purchase and production orders. Infinium Manufacturing Control helps Crest Foods maintain, update, and provide detailed, real-time information for production, including batch scheduling, instructions processing, and batch ticket and production order printing. Designed from the ground-up for formula-based process manufacturing operations, Infinium Process Manufacturing solution captures and reports in logical combinations all the cost resources, raw materials, labor, containers, machines, and burdens and might particularly be effective in environments like Crest Foods where the production process can change dramatically.

The above-espoused renewed focus resulted in improving financial performance according to Infinium's April 22 announcement of its financial results for the second quarter of fiscal year 2002 that ended March 31, 2002. Software license fees for Q2 2002 were $2.9 million, a 34% increase compared to $2.2 million for the previous quarter, and a 3% decline compared to $3.0 million for Q2 2001. Total revenues for Q2 2002 were $16.5 million, a 1% increase compared to $16.3 million for the previous quarter, and still a 13% decrease compared to $18.9 million for Q2 2001 (see Figure 1 below). However, net income for the quarter was $3.5 million including a $337,000 gain from the divestiture of a Netherlands subsidiary, compared to $2.7 million Q1 2002, and the net loss of $2.9 million the second quarter of the prior year. Also important, Infinium's cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities balance for Q2 2002 was $17.5 million, compared to $13.7 million for the previous quarter, and $15.3 million for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2001.

Figure 1:

This is Part 1 of a 2-part note on Infinium.

Part 2 continues the Market Impact and makes User Recommendations.

Market Impact

Infinium seems to be rebounding from hitting rock bottom during 2001 just when the market thought that it could not have been worse than 2000 (see Infinium Ends Its Most Challenging Year). Indeed, the last two years were not for the faint-hearted - Infinium saw crippling revenues, bloated losses, departures of almost the entire management team, and the first significant layoffs (20% of staff) in the company history. Particularly painful was Q4 2001, when its revenues all but vanished (see Figure 1 above) as the company wrote off its failed ASP (application solution provider) venture. Against this backdrop, the company's tenacity and ability to launch a comeback deserves praise.

While the company did not cry over spilled milk for long, it also did not pour ashes over its head for long either. The time to take stock of its of its competencies' and/or resources' had come. At the end of 2001, Infinium seems to have successfully bitten the bullet. Consequently, the fast tracked return to profitability during the last two quarters, a $3.8 million positive cash flow and revenue growth in the last quarter have renewed customers' and investors' confidence; the company has recently been reinstated into NASDAQ, and its recent stock performance seems to be on a fair way to create a decent market capitalization and to wipe off any remaining negative stock equity.

After close scrutiny and assessment of the company's strengths and weaknesses, the new management has concluded that Infinium's over two decades long operating history, its functional and scalable solutions, over $40 million of recurring service & maintenance revenue stream (out of $74 million total revenues in 2001), and loyal customer base (with over 90% customer retention) due to traditionally exceptional customer care should vouch for future success provided the company can curb challenges. Some of these, like a broken financial model, cash burning, and a 'revolving door' management have apparently been successfully addressed. The result is a renewed employees' and the market's enthusiasm to move forward.

Hard Decisions Produce Results

Infinium also had to make some gutsy and necessary business decisions. First one was the discontinuation of its ASP service and consequent closing of its costly investment - a spacious enterprise applications hosting center. The lack of traction which resulted in less than two dozen ASP customers forced the company to swallow a bitter pill and write off ~$10 million. As everyone is always wise after the event, many may castigate the company's failed decision at the time of ASP euphoria. Although it was an injudicious reaction to many analysts' overly optimistic predictions of outsourcing business, the company's ASP strategy to provide holistic, turnkey solution as to also obfuscate its IBM AS/400 platform confinement had some temptation and merit at the time. The fact is also that all of Infinium's ASP customers are reportedly still happy and referenceable Infinium customers. Many of them decided to go with traditional in-house implementations, while others decided to continue to outsource Infinium's applications at other ASP providers.

Incidentally, another crucial decision was the sole focus on iSeries platform and on IBM technology and infrastructure. It is a prudent decision against the backdrop of the company's recent business circumstances and its resources. While not a platform with a high growth potential, iSeries remains a proven technology that is highly regarded for its reliability, stability, and robustness, which all typically result with a low TCO. The fact that IBM continues to invest in the platform's development and its Web-integrated infrastructure was yet another reason for Infinium to stick to its long partner's recognized technology.

Having decided on its platform support, Infinium has energetically embarked on the mission to modernize its products architecturally while preserving its customers' investment in its older product releases. Its Web-integrated business applications framework has been laid out -- it features multi-tier (3-tier) architecture with applications/data services layer, Web/applications service layer, and client/presentation layer. It is based on commonly used Web standards such as XML, HTTP, Java/J2EE, and DHTML.

Furthermore, a brand new browser-based user interface (UI) should have an appeal to current users and prospects, and should alleviate Infinium's proverbial problem of bland user interface and unexciting product that has often plagued its sales in the past and prevented its more widespread recognition. Also, to alleviate anxiety of many of its users, which have heavily customized its older, 'green-screen' product versions, the company released in March a redevelopment tool designed to extend the business logic and interfaces of these product instances to the Internet. The tool uses XML to communicate with the IBM's WebSphere Application Server.

Infinium's Strengths

Infinium's enterprise business solutions include human resources (HR), payroll, financial management, customer relationship management (CRM), materials management, process manufacturing, and business intelligence (BI)/analytics offerings. While its product is not based on object oriented programming (OOP) code per se, it has nevertheless long provided a great number of application programming interfaces (APIs) for interconnectivity among its own and third-party applications, all providing for flexibility and incremental deployment. Infinium has therefore been quite competitive in speed of implementation, TCO, and price/performance ratio. Furthermore, as the company supports both IBM and Microsoft endorsed middleware standards, it is well poised for future technological developments and interconnectivity requirements.

Concurrently with interconnectivity and workflow enablement of its suite, Infinium has also developed strong back-office functionality, particularly human resources/payroll and financial management suites. Infinium Financial Management was devised to help organization streamline the entire financial management chain, from budgeting expenses, to recording transactions and forecasting revenue, and was designed with strong internal controls to ensure accuracy and compliance while inherent flexibility should provide the ability to grow and adapt to business change.

Its Web-integrated capabilities include rich reporting and analysis, and self-service options may empower organizations to work more efficiently. The suite includes the following modules: general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, fixed assets, purchase management, project accounting, self service, global taxation, income reporting, and budgeting, while treasury management is offered through partnering.

Infinium Human Resources is a comprehensive HR/Payroll solution devised to enable organizations to manage and motivate their workforce, minimize administrative tasks, and empower HR to play a strategic role in their overall success. It is a Web-integrated solution with e-business capabilities, such as manager and employee self-service, and offers many HR-related functional requirements, from compensation and benefits management and in-depth employee training and career-path tracking features, to workforce management and critical line-manager empowerment. The suite offers the following modules: HR administration, payroll, benefits administration, manager and employee self-service, training administration, and recruiting management.

Infinium's ideal users are larger mid-market companies with a large number of employees, differing pay scales among a wide range of varying positions/job descriptions, and a need to adhere to union requirements, but that are also looking for a functional product without too much complexity that comes from Tier 1 product offerings. As an example, the HR product was designed with user self-sufficiency and a minimal training need in mind. To that end, on all screens users get a bird-eye view of the data pertinent to them, and a web-based intuitive UI makes user interaction more recreational than painful experience of e.g., enrollment, or changing data. Still, to keep the information cohesive and in check, HR managers are required by alerts to approve all updates/changes. Also, Infinium Corporate Performance Manager (CPM), powered by Cognos, ensures effective data utilization, as only the necessary data is used during any transaction or update, and is put into the appropriate business context. CPM helps also ensure that the business strategy is aligned with execution at all levels by linking people, information, and decision-making processes throughout an organization. It thereby enables the entire management cycle including: planning, forecasting, budgeting, reporting, analysis, and scorecarding.

Although not considered as a differentiating offering, Infinium offers Manufacturing and Logistics suite that offers solid material management functionality. The suite offers the following modules: production planning, materials management, order entry and processing, inventory management, and project management, while finite scheduling, plant maintenance and distribution & transportation are delivered via product alliances (e.g., Rippe & Kingston for its METHOS Maintenance System). Still, to simplify tasks such as purchase order approval routing, high volume purchasing, automated ordering, and automatic vendor payment, Infinium may prove useful in streamlining an organization's material management processes. Infinium Process Manufacturing ERP solution is nonetheless a good fit and is highly competitive in some segments of the process manufacturing markets - specifically batch-mode chemical manufacturers. The solution is formula-based, built from scratch for the unique requirements of the market and delivers a flexibility that many mid-size chemical manufacturer requires.

Also worth mentioning is Infinium CRM, a fully-integrated, flexible, Web-based solution, which the company gained through its acquisition in early 2000 of then Dutch CRM vendor Dexton Information Systems. The suite supports many aspects of business relationship management, through many functional modules for sales force automation (SFA) and marketing automation, and customer support services with a single, central market database. Although the product features integration to other ERP systems like SAP, J.D. Edwards, SSA GT and Geac/JBA, it has had a very limited success as stand-alone offering after the acquisition. However, as a much-needed add-on to Infinium's original ERP modules, it might likely create a compelling value proposition provided it is also tailored for specific vertical industries.

This concludes Part 1 of a 2-part note on Infinium.

Part 2 continues the Market Impact and makes User Recommendations.

comments powered by Disqus