I wasn’t sure what to expect at Inforum 2013, Infor’s annual user conference held a couple of weeks ago in Orlando, Florida. It had been several years since Workbrain – now called Infor Workforce Management – was represented at the event, and based on pre-show discussions that I had with many Infor WFM users, I knew most were not planning to attend. Most were concerned that there wouldn’t be a lot of relevant content.
On the other hand, I have heard from many people inside and outside of Infor say that Charles Phillips and his executive team “got it”, shifting Infor to a company focused on innovative product development, and Infor WFM 6.0, released last fall, has showed a renewed investment in the product. So, was I going to see an ERP provider in which WFM is an afterthought or was I going to see a software company that viewed WFM as an important part of their product portfolio?
In the end, Infor surprised me. Based on what I saw at Inforum, WFM 6.0 was no fluke. Infor plans to continue significant investment in the product both as a best-of-breed WFM solution and as part of Infor’s broader Human Capital Management strategy. Infor plans to release 6.0.2 in the next couple of weeks and if you’re a Workbrain customer, here are three reasons why Infor WFM customers should be excited about the future of their solution:
1. The SoHo User Experience. During the opening session, Charles Phillips and his executive team introduced Hook & Loop. Built from the ground up with an eclectic mix of talent – team members include a Pulitzer Prize-winner for infographics, a former-Google Storyteller, a CGI expert that worked on the Avengers movie, someone that worked on Apple’s original iAds and more – Hook & Loop is responsible for creating a consistent user experience across Infor’s products called “SoHo”. SoHo is not intended just to make Infor’s applications usable; their goal is to make Infor’s applications beautiful.
Knowing that Infor had just replaced the dated Workbrain user interface in 6.0 released last fall, I assumed that WFM would be at the back of the line of applications to get updated with SoHo. Boy, was I wrong! The WFM UI gets refreshed with SoHo in the soon-to-be-released Infor WFM 6.0.2. For most users, it won’t matter that the UI will be consistent with other Infor products but what will matter is SoHo’s clean, modern look-and feel; intuitive icons; fast HTML; and numerous productivity improvements that streamline common tasks.
2. Native iOS Tablet Application. Infor demonstrated a new iOS-native tablet application that will also be released with WFM 6.1 later this summer. Again, Hook & Loop was involved in the design of the app. This means that its user experience is consistent with SoHo which will make training easier. Also, Infor has taken advantage of the iPad by delivering some very innovative features. For example, an employee can request time off by simply selecting the type of time off they want and dragging their finger over the dates that they want to take off. That sounds simple. It is simple. I’ve wanted to do something similar to schedule appointments on my iPhone with the Calendar app for years. Infor got there first.
With that said, the problem that I’ve had with the WFM-centric mobile applications is that they are limited to WFM interactions. Employees do not care that you are using one vendor’s product for WFM, another for learning management and a third for benefits enrollment. Whether they are checking their schedule, requesting time off, booking a training class or enrolling in benefits, they want a single point of interaction with their employer. Infor recognizes this and views this tablet application as one-stop shop for functionality beyond WFM. This leads me to my third point…
3. Unified HCM. Over the last few years, Infor has made a number of strategic human capital management acquisitions. Starting with Workbrain, continuing with Lawson (which had previously acquired Enwisen), and most recently with CERTpoint, Infor has assembled a complete suite of leading HCM solutions. Integration from both a data and user experience perspective of these applications is part of Infor’s Unified HCM strategy.
Infor WFM 6.0.2 will include integration with Lawson HR and Talent Management, Enwisen and Workspace. Workspace is Infor’s technology to provide an integrated user experience (i.e., tying together applications using SoHo via common navigation and single sign-on). The tablet application released with 6.1 will eventually support use cases – like the ones describe above – across the HCM suite from a single application.
Are these three things the answer to all Infor WFM users’ prayers? No, but the activity is a breath of fresh air for Workbrain customers that may have wondered about the future of their product. It was clear that Infor – in both words and actions –is serious about WFM.