Headline key: IFS gets IoT into ERP & EAM for EOI — Industrial and Financial Systems gets Internet of Things [data] into Enterprise Resource Planning and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) for Enterprise Operational Intelligence.
IFS World Conference was staged this week in the ‘Little London” city of Göteborg (Gothenburg) in Sweden.
Standing quite logically for Industrial and Financial Systems, IFS is known for its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Enterprise Service Management (ESM) software — oh, and it’s Enterprise Operational Intelligence (EOI) software too.
Kicking off proceedings for its 2016 event was affable realist Alastair Sorbie in his role as CEO. With an immodestly labeled keynote titled ‘take control of infinite possibilities’, Sorbie welcomed the Surströmming Smörgåsbord-fueled crowd to an introduction of the firm’s aims and ideals.
IFS has used this year’s event to reinforce its position in the market and talk candidly about how it wants to grow today.
Although IFS is perhaps not the biggest brand in the market, the firm’s quiet confidence has seen it retain twice as many customers as the industry average (so the CEO claims) and the IFS employee retention rate is extremely high when measured across total market trends. The firm also notes that the average length of service from an IFS employee is 9.5 years; nearly double the industry norm.
“For us it’s important to get our brand awareness up and yes, we are aware that we are (for some) the best kept secret in the industry. Many of our customers tell us that they had never heard of us and only found out about us quite late on in the software product selection process — but we are working extremely hard to change this,” said CEO Sorbie.
The firm is now in 60 countries around the world and describes its software as a ‘component based’ product. Not in the sense of software ‘components’ in the purist code sense, but as a software modules that can be brought together to manage IT assets depending on the use case needed.
Getting real on IoT
IFS has now turned its software management capabilities to address the Internet of Things (IoT), pointing out that customers need to get business applications connected to their IoT base of devices in order to perform the right kind of analytics.
They also need to bring that data analytics forward into a usable dashboard (for data visualisation) that allows the firm to use that information to execute the right levels of service management, predictive maintenance and other appropriate actions so that the business can make more money.
IFS IoT Business Connector 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.
IFS IoT Business Connector has been designed to de-risk and accelerate IoT initiatives in areas such as predictive maintenance, service management, asset management and manufacturing.
IFS CTO Dan Matthews has explained, “By working with our customers and partners we are able to connect the dots so that investments in IoT not only yield piles of data and pretty charts, but result in real actions that are co-planned and executed in an optimal way together with everything else that is going on in a business. For our customers it means an easier way to get started with IoT, lower risks, and faster time to realized value.”
Inside the components
IFS IoT Controller determines what actions to take when IoT data analysis reveals observations relevant to the business. It also handles a range of practical issues that occur when mapping operational technology (OT) into IT and business applications. IFS IoT Gateway enables secure communications between the cloud-based discovery and analytics of IoT data, to the on-premise or cloud-based IFS products
Also included in the component set here, IFS IoT Discovery Manager provides additional management and monitoring capabilities when using the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite as the discovery platform.