IFS World Conference 2016, noteworthy keynote notes

Three letter acronym company names are all the rage in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software firm circles, but this time we’re talking about IFS.

IFS actually encompasses more than ‘mere’ ERP and has its fingers deeply embedded in the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Enterprise Operations Intelligence (EOI) pies.

Founded in Sweden, the firm hosted its IFS World Conference 2016 this week to detail the state of the IFS nation and explain where its essentially modular IFS Applications 9 product sits today.

New bid functionality

In terms of product news, the firm announced a new capability in IFS Applications 9 that enhances the ‘sales and bid’ process that firms will need to typically need to work with by more quickly calculating bid prices.

Logically named, the IFS Product Estimate Management software is supposed to supports manufacturing companies where they need to establish the best possible bid price of a product when responding to sales quotation requests.

The cost and build-up functionality here enables users to determine whether a product can be manufactured, or marketed with a profit.

“We are excited to announce this new functionality, which gives the user a flexible solution for responding to RFQs as well as robust support for make versus buy decisions,” IFS product director Martin Gunnarsson said. “This new tool enables people involved in the sales and bid process to effectively collaborate to estimate opportunities based on product structures while taking a vast number of variables into account.”

Butterfly effect

The IFS logo is deliberately designed to resemble a butterfly for a reason – the company talks about the so-called ‘butterfly effect’ – if a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil does it set off a tidal wave in Russia, or something along those lines – or to put it another way… the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

IFS draws direct parallels with the chaos theory that drives commercial interactions and says that there is an appreciation for the need for information management in chaos behind how and why it develops its own applications base.

Reference plan for IoT

After a day one keynote ‘starring’ IFS CEO Alistair Sorbie, CTO Dan Matthews took the stage for day two.

“Firms need to work more proactively in terms of data collection and collection analysis and then being more proactive about what they do with what they uncover,” said Matthews.

Matthews details a four step ‘reference model’ plan for IoT data analysis:

Step 1: Is about connecting up your devices and assets, bringing raw data into the firm’s data pile.

Step 2: Is all about discovery and observation of the data in hand.

Step 3: Is all about ‘operationalising your insights’ and getting out to interact with the devices that are producing data (this is where Field Service Management FSM comes into play).

Step 4: Is all about business optimisation based around the intelligence now built into the business.

It’s a rat trap

Matthews also detailed work carried out by a company called Anticimex that uses the firm’s recently announced IFS IoT Business Connector to manage it’s ‘connected rat traps’ so that they can be tracked to assess when they have caught a rat, when they need servicing and/or when they need a new battery.

IFS IoT Business Connector itself is offered with a ‘reference architecture’ so that it can be used in what the firm asserts is a comparatively plug-and-play means of deployment and execution.

According to IFS, this software gathers data gathered from products, assets and equipment to identify actionable observations that trigger user-defined, automated or semi-automated workflows in the IFS enterprise software.

“IFS IoT Business Connector also provides plug-and-play connectivity with the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite for device communications and data analytics, alongside open APIs to connect other IoT platforms or specialized IoT discovery applications,” said the firm, in a press statement.

IFS is extremely open about the fact that its brand could benefit from wider recognition and now with private equity ownership it appears likely that the right kind of investments could be made in terms of a) marketing and comms b) organic product development inside the firm itself and c) non-organic mergers and acquisitions.

Gothenburg is home to King Gustav, Volvo and Ace of Base… and now IFS too.