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IFS 18 Atlanta: CEO Roos asserts customer focus with upgraded ERP suite

IFS uses 2018 world conference in Atlanta to launch upgrade of its enterprise resource planning suite, shepherded by new CEO Darren Roos

Software systems provider IFS has used its 2018 world conference in Atlanta to launch an upgrade to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite, IFS Applications 10.

The conference is the first in the role for new chief executive officer Darren Roos. He used his opening keynote to say the supplier will intensify its focus on its customers, aiming to present a more “harmonised” view of the company globally.

In an interview with Computer Weekly, the former Software AG and SAP executive said IFS will “build deep functionality in the industries we want to be dominant in, such as aviation and defence, engineering and construction, and manufacturing”.

“We are in this business for the complex stuff, for the product, asset and service intensive ERPs, not consumer or administrative ERPs, for example. I am at peace with the fact that there are industries we will not be in, such as retail or financial services,” he said.

Roos said his initial view on IFS, one month into the job, is that its regional business units have been “run with excellent entrepreneurial spirit”, but that they need to be more centralised “to be better able to deal with global customers and global partners”.

In the meantime, the supplier has upgraded its core ERP suite. Dan Matthews, chief technology officer at IFS, believes CIO customers will be excited by the “biggest product release we have done in the past three years”.

“It is quite significant, a milestone release, especially for customers with a growing services business, such as Saab,” he added.

In a statement, the supplier said IFS Applications 10 has been built to help customers capitalise on disruptive industry trends such as automation, connected devices (the internet of things), and servitisation.

It has added a chatbot interface, called IFS Aurena, described as a browser-based user experience that offer users an intuitive interface. The bot draws on artificial intelligence (AI) technology in a way that it can be used by employees and managers to ask questions in natural language, as well as perform transactions such as registering absence or applying for leave.

IFS Aurena Bot can also be accessed from popular communications tools such as Skype, Skype for Business, and Facebook Messenger, as well as from within IFS Aurena.

Read more about IFS

The upgrade is said to include major investments to support service-focused organisations, especially for manufacturers with service or aftermarket operations, as well as service companies that need an integrated enterprise applications suite tailored to their business model.

The supplier added that it is extending traditional materials requirements planning (MRP) with demand-driven functionality that can help manufacturers “reduce lead times and become increasingly demand-driven instead of having to rely on uncertain forecasts”.

In the press statement, Matthews said: “This version contains more than 500 new capabilities, including a completely reimagined user experience and powerful features for service-centric organisations, all designed to help users engage with the business and connect people and processes to a modern digital backbone.”

The company said IFS Applications 10 has been implemented by five early adopter customers: Chief Industries, Hexpo, Portsmouth Aviation, Volac, and Valmont Industries.

UK-based food company Volac’s business development director, Neville Chapman, said: “One of the major benefits of IFS Applications 10 has been the new user experience IFS Aurena, which empowers users to work efficiently on any device and at any time.”

The French postal service La Poste, global defence and security company Saab, Swedish coffee producer Löfbergs Lila, Swiss micromotor producer Maxon Motor, and Norwegian timber company Bergene Holm have also bought IFS Applications 10, the supplier said.

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