Finally, Phillips points to poor usability as a vulnerability. "I don't think they quite recognize that the next generation of users of these applications won't accept user experience and interfaces that came from the '80s and '90s -- these kinds of form-based, almost client-server looking applications that haven't changed materially in a long, long time. They're still horrible-looking." By contrast, Infor has made a major investment in improving the look and feel of its applications.
Couple that with the fact that most Infor applications are available as SaaS applications, so users can readily get demos and see the difference for themselves: "For the bulk of the portfolio, the 80 percent that we focus on, you can deploy multitenant applications [in the cloud]. But that same multitenant app you can run on premise single-tenant."
Infor's flexible deployment model, enhanced integration, vertical expertise, and UI improvements may well add up to a compelling alternative. Of course, Infor is not the only alternative in town -- Workday comes to mind as an up-and-coming cloud ERP play, while the Salesforce ecosystem is growing in interesting ways, offering core financials from third parties such as FinancialForce. And of course NetSuite has firmly established itself as a cloud ERP solution for small businesses. The problem for all these contenders is combatting the lock-in that incumbent enterprise software vendors have established over many years.
For some customers, those legacy ERP systems are as difficult to dislodge as mainframes -- the switching costs are simply too high, not simply in ripping and replacing software, but in the Herculean task of moving business logic built up over many, many years to a new platform. Nimbler customers will adopt more agile solutions such as those offered by Infor, but as with most aspects of enterprise technology, change is always slower than you think it will be.
This article, "Can Infor upset the Oracle-SAP duopoly?," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.