Infor plots move into cloud financials in strike against Workday

Infor is hoping to elbow its way into Workday's turf with an upcoming cloud-based financial software suite dubbed Financials Xi.

The product, which is scheduled for release in the middle of next year, will "eliminate the need for multiple bolt-on applications," Infor President Duncan Angove said in a statement included with Tuesday's announcement at the start of the company's Inforum user conference.

Today's cloud finance software packages, "even those considered to be modern," are "merely version 2.0 of first-generation financial management," Angove added in an possible allusion to Workday, which is led by PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield and former PeopleSoft executive Aneel Bhusri.

Financials Xi will tie financial management, treasury application, cash management and analytics into a single package, according to Infor. It will also help "eliminate redundant and error-prone steps that require human intervention" and make it easier to run companies with operations in multiple countries, Infor said.

The software will incorporate Infor's ION middleware, giving customers the means to tie it into operational systems, and will feature a "consumer-grade" user interface developed by Infor's internal design group Hook & Loop, according to a statement.

Financials Xi represents the latest step by Infor to reinvent its image under the leadership of CEO Charles Phillips. Long known as more of a holding company for an array of acquired applications, under Phillips' leadership Infor has invested heavily in product development and pushed its way into SaaS (software as a service).

There's an opportunity for Infor to make hay with Financials Xi, although it won't be a walk in the park, said analyst Ray Wang, chairman and founder of Constellation Research.

"Just like folks thought HR systems were passe and folks were not going to move off core systems, financials are ripe for replacement in the next three to five years," Wang said. "Infor has a big base of customers on legacy financials that would be interested in upgrades or newer products. It's smart that they are announcing a new product for their customer base However, companies are more wary about replacing financials so it will take a long time for people to replace them. It has to be compelling enough."

More information about Financials Xi is expected to be revealed this week during Inforum, which takes place in New Orleans.

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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