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Infinium Returns To Its Core Competencies To Succeed Part 2: Challenges and User Recommendations

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: May 29 2002

Strategic Focus

Incidentally, a sharp vertical focus founded on strong horizontal applications has long been Infinium's modus operandi. However, given its past financial difficulties and the confinement to the iServer platform have made the company revise and rationalize its traditional industries of focus. Although Infinium customers represent a variety of industries including: manufacturing, hospitality and gaming, healthcare, transportation, retail, financial services and transportation/distribution, going forward, the company will focus on gaining mind share and delivering total solution offering for the following three industries: hospitality and gaming, healthcare, and process manufacturing. The other industries will be pursued only opportunistically until the economical climate and buying patterns significantly change. For example, the transportations industry's current low spending behavior and the financial services low acceptance of iSeries platform do not justify the need for further vertical-specific investment from Infinium at this stage, although the company can boast a notable customers in both industries.

The focus on hospitality and gaming is a no-brainer given the above-mentioned customer base statistics and the lion market share. It is the mother of all Infinium's vertical solutions. The disastrous immediate impact that the events from September 11 have had in this industry also contributed to Infinium's dismal results in 2001. (See Part 1 of this article for the Financial Information)

However, the revival seems to be on its way, and Infinium is likely far ahead of its competitors in providing a nearly 'one-stop-shop' to its prospects, given its early-to-market advantage and over 20 years of relevant experience. An excellent example of a module that its competitors will have a tall order to produce would be Infinium's analytic suite tailored for hospitality services called Daily Operating Reporting (DOR), where hotel and casino managers are able to discern some arcane facts such as turnover vs. meteorological report correlation, or profitability per business (lodging vs. games) or even deeper (e.g., per game type), and all these per day in a week or per time period of the day.

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

Part 1 detailed recent announcements and detailed Infininum's strengths.

Partnerships

Still, even a company with market leadership needs a number of necessary partnerships to fulfill the esoteric needs of the industry. No vendor can provide for all customers' needs. However, Infinium is again ahead of the competition, given an early start in partnering with the following companies:

  • Stratton Warren, a part of PurchasePro - for its MMS400 hospitality-endemic enterprise material management system that manages procurement of 'consumable' materials like salsa and lettuce,
     
  • Inter-American Data - for Lodging Management System (LMS) and credit card processing software that are crucial for hotel operations,
     
  • TALX Corporation - for employment income verification services of HR referrals,
     
  • Advanced Casino Systems Corporation (ACSC) - for its slot management business system,
     
  • eLabor.com - for its advanced recruiting system, and
     
  • Cognos - for its Impromptu custom reporting system.

Contrary to hospitality, the other two industries of focus are yet to be cracked in earnest. In the healthcare industry, Infinium has in excess of 100 customers, mainly general hospitals and pediatrics clinics, which is still a far cry from thousands that likes of Lawson Software and PeopleSoft can tout. Still, having 30% of its service, support and sales staff with direct experience in the market and a healthcare customer retention rate of over 95% are compelling reasons for Infinium to pursue the market segment. Also, having provided its own ERP modules (financials, HR/Payroll, material management) for healthcare organizations operations, bundled with a close partnership with McKesson for Hospital Information Systems (Insurance/Workflow, and Medical Practice) and for Clinical Information Systems, have often given other contenders a run for their money in the past. We would not be terribly surprised to see the two companies elevating their co-operation on a higher strategic level, some time in the future.

The company will likely have most of its work cut out to gain significant market recognition within the process manufacturing segment, where the competition may be fierce, given strong recovery of pure-process ERP vendors (see Ross Systems' Focus Yields More Value For Process Manufacturers and iProcess.sct Enters Golden Gate Opportunity) and high aspirations of the likes of SAP, Oracle, J.D. Edwards and Baan Process Solutions.

As mentioned in the Part 1, the Infinium Process Manufacturing ERP product seems to be a good fit for certain areas within process manufacturing, which entails small-to-medium sized enterprises that run in the batch (vs. continuous) manufacturing mode. It features strengths in formula/recipe management and hazardous material control and regulatory compliance (e.g., material safety data sheet (MSDS), Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) Title III environmental regulations, and laboratory inspection management system (LIMS)) functions that make it a good solution particularly for some food and chemical industries (e.g., paints and coatings).

The company has indicated intended delivery of functionality that is often required for food & beverage industry (e.g., 'catch weights' and potency) in the foreseeable future. The offering, however, lacks strong natively provided forecasting, supplier relationship management (SRM), and supply chain management (SCM) including finite scheduling, warehouse management system (WMS) and transportation management. It appears that the company has been in a pursuit of a partnership that would cater for all or most of the above functional gaps, and the market should watch for an official announcement in that regard. Nevertheless, the still relatively lower penetration and the smaller number of competitors in the process manufacturing market (compared to the discrete manufacturing) remain the company's opportunity, and it may have a fair shot at pursuing it given over 350 existing process manufacturing customers.

Also, despite its fair global presence, which has somewhat diminished lately owing to some offices closure, Infinium remains largely established North American vendor, with over 80% revenues coming from this market. Consequently, very few practitioners are aware that, for example, Infinium financial and HR/Payroll modules often can go head to head against the likes of SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards and Lawson, with an additional benefit of flexibility and ease of use.

Therefore, Infinium's recent determination to execute a comprehensive marketing campaign into the three key verticals is commendable as it might help its low mind share, brand awareness and visibility. For example; the process marketing activities for this quarter include advertising and sponsorships on various process industries relevant web sites and/or publications (e.g., www.foodprocessing.com and www.chemicalprocessing.com), series of direct mail and emails to several dozens of thousand contacts, and virtual seminars promoting benefits of CRM to manufacturing enterprises co-sponsored by IBM. Similar plans are being executed for the healthcare organizations as to make headway on creating visibility in these markets. The message in the campaigns focuses on Infinium's value proposition for the above industries including its products' integration, ease of use, low TCO, and industry expertise. The company should also articulate in a more perspicacious manner its commitment to further invest in its healthcare and process manufacturing solution. Strategic partnership agreements with leading industry solution providers should also be expedited and broadcast to the market.

User Recommendations

Infinium's potential and current customers should certainly take note of the company's new product strategy and forthcoming offerings, but avoid selecting it without looking at what the other vendors have to offer. As for the newly added and/or anticipated functionality through product alliances, users are advised to ask for firm assurances on the availability and future upgrades timeframes, and more detailed scope of combined product functionality.

We generally recommend including Infinium in a short list of an enterprise application selection for mid-market and low-end Tier 1 companies (with $50 million -- $2 billion in revenue) as well as for divisions of Fortune 1000 companies within its announced industries of focus. Infinium should still be included on any package selection long list within the transportation, retail, and financial services where financial, human resources/payroll, and basic material management are the main pillars of an enterprise application. If an enterprise is seeking a back-office system that handles variations, exceptions and different options while keeping track of a large number of employees, Infinium might be a good choice.

While the hospitality and gaming product strategy remains crystal clear, the other two industries' strategies have some more impending tuning up. Therefore, potential Infinium healthcare and process manufacturing users our advice would be:

  • Evaluate Infiinum if you are a small to medium, batch process manufacturing company or healthcare organization,
     
  • Bear in mind that if the non-process manufacturing items (e.g., HR/payroll, financial management, CRM, and analytics) 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 and delivery timelines of healthcare and 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 healthcare and process manufacturing products and its track record relative to meeting these industries needs.

For a deeper analysis of Infinium and more information, see Infinium Software Inc.: Having All the Right Cards?

Figure 1

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

Part 1 detailed recent announcements and detailed Infininum's strengths.

 
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