IFS World Conference: Day 1

For IFS, this year's World Conference arrives during a time of optimism. Having just announced healthy third quarter results, the ERP vendor touched down in Barcelona, where James Pozzi writes about the event's first day.

As an industry leader, there has not been a better time for IFS to announce itself on a larger scale. And that it did, even down to having Jon Briggs – better known to you and I as the voice of Siri on the iPhone – on presenting duties.

Having just announced healthy third quarter results, fuelled in part by the launch of its IFS  Apps 8 software as well as an increase in users amounting to 150,000 in just a year, the Swedish-formed ERP vendor looks set to continue its growth.

On the first day of its annual World Conference, its first time outside of Sweden, the spectacle was there for all to see; here is a company making its mark in the tech world.

The two day period brings together executives, customers and partners from across the manufacturing and technology industries to engage with the company.

A fourth industrial revolution

CEO and president Alastair Sorbie began proceedings with his keynote address. Englishman Sorbie, who has been in the role since 2006, discussed what has been dubbed “the fourth industrial revolution.”

He believes the future of manufacturing will be shaped by increased machine to machine connectivity, 3D printing and the manufacturing of lower, more specialised batches, rather than offering multiple choice.

The ethos of companies will evolve into providing after-sale services and investing in more project-themed solutions, he said.

Sorbie also confirmed IFS will continue its steady investment in the defence and security sectors – two of its leading industries.

Following on from the president’s opening was Thomas Sald, IFS’ VP for research & development. Sald opened by demonstrating the effectiveness of the firm’s ERP products with a video of Japanese tech company NEC.

The company said due to the size of its super computer mainframes, IFS ERP was easier to integrate into its financial systems, another example of the project-based solutions IFS prides itself on.

Also speaking was Mike Opal, senior evangelist of global cloud alliances at Microsoft. He talked of “The Perfect Storm,” with the world now possessing more connected services than people – hitting 50bn by 2020.

In a nutshell, cloud computer isn’t the future, it has already arrived. Its qualities for manufacturers is set to shape industry for years to come, said Opal.

Operating in the mid-market

After the keynotes, I was presented with a first hand opportunity to discover how IFS solutions has helped UK manufacturers such as drinks company Intercontinental Brands (ICB).

Since forming in 1990, ICB now supplies most of the UK’s leading supermarkets, convenience chains and wholesalers, while also exporting to Germany, Scandinavia, Africa, Hong Kong, and Australia.

The company implemented IFS 8 just over a year ago, to serve four components of finance, manufacturing, CRM and inventory management.

During the implementation process to integrate these four components into one solution, Matthew Brown, group IT manager at the Harrogate-based firm, said collaboration with IFS consultants was key towards a smooth implementation process.

“We felt its applications offered better variety than its market competitors, so IFS felt like the right answer from the word go,” said Brown.

He added ICB also plans to integrate human resources and payroll by the end of the year, while it will give more attention to the possibility of cloud software over the coming years.

What day one illustrated was the  ever increasing options in ERP – most notably in the new IFS Talk application, which keeps sensitive information and data in house – represent vital functions for any manufacturing company to thrive in the era of big data, emerging technologies and increased devices.

Day two will see Ray Wang, principal analyst of Constellation Research and IFS CTO Dan Matthews making keynote addresses.