Infor takes on Salesforce.com with SalesLogix acquisition

Infor will tie SalesLogix CRM with its ERP apps as well, says CEO Charles Phillips

Infor has acquired Saleslogix in a bid to compete with Salesforce.com in the cloud CRM (customer relationship management) software market, particularly for customers seeking industry-specific features.

SalesLogix is changing hands for the second time in two years. In early 2013, Swiftpage bought it along with Act from Sage. Terms of the deal between Infor and Swiftpage, which was announced Thursday, were not disclosed.

While SalesLogix is run on-premises by some customers, it's mostly deployed from the cloud on Amazon Web Services. That's the option Infor will lead sales efforts with once the deal is closed, said CEO Charles Phillips in an interview.

"This was pretty much a no-brainer for us," Phillips said, citing factors such as Saleslogix's similar approach to application integration as Infor, tight coupling with Microsoft Outlook, more than 1,700 customers and "a pretty good partner channel."

Infor plans to make a significant investment in research and development for Saleslogix, with the goal of speeding up its road map and working on industry-specific features, the latter of which Infor is well known for in its ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications, Phillips said.

Salesforce.com recently announced an industry strategy for its CRM. But Infor will have an edge given its plan to tie Saleslogix into its ERP software. That means marketing and sales data can be linked with supply-chain planning, production scheduling and other business processes, giving companies broad insights into their operations, he said.

"Normally today, you have to estimate and do your best," he said. "This will give you data in real time."

While Infor already has a CRM application in the form of Epiphany, most of that product's strategic value lies in its recommendation engine, according to Phillips. SalesLogix is "quite complementary" to Epiphany, he said.

Despite the Saleslogix acquisition, Infor intends to maintain good relations with Salesforce.com, which invested in privately held Infor in 2011.

Infor used Salesforce.com's platform to create Inforce, a product that ties data from Infor's application with Salesforce.com CRM. Inforce will continue to be supported and enhanced after the deal. Infor is also planning to continue reselling Salesforce.com CRM, Phillips said. "We want customers to have a choice."

Overall, Infor is making a smart move with the Saleslogix deal and plans for industry-specific CRM, according to one analyst.

"The problem with CRM today is it's just too generic," said analyst Ray Wang , founder and chairman of Constellation Research. "A customer is different things by industry. In healthcare it's a patient, in hospitality, it's a guest, in professional services, it's a client, in public sector it's a citizen. These are all customers but the terminology, the behavior is different."

It's not surprising that Swiftpage unloaded Saleslogix, said independent enterprise software analyst China Martens [cq] via email.

For Infor, "the purchase of Saleslogix is all about being able to pull together a full-blown cloud CRM suite, which begs the question: Does Infor have all it needs on the cloud service automation side or will there be an acquisition or purchase there too?" Martens added.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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