Infor's Taking-Care-of-Business Business Edition CRM

The small-to-midsize business (SMB) looking to roll out sales and service capabilities in addition to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions might not have to look much further. With the release of CRM Business Edition, enterprise software provider Infor is tailoring its newest customer relationship management solution to the unique needs of a growing small or medium-sized business.

The business edition CRM combines the Infor CRM sales and Infor CRM service modules. The solution also provides built-in integration to Infor ERP SyteLine and Infor ERP LN, which is an ERP solution used by discrete manufacturers. Infor refers to the collaboration as a "consolidated approach to selling."

Dr. Patric Timmermans, senior director of global industry and product marketing for Infor, says that the company is particularly targeting its install-base customers. Those who already use Infor ERP solutions will be able to integrate into sales, service and CRM programs. "Across all the CRM packages targeting SMBs, they need tight integration with ERP and they need a full function CRM system," Timmermans notes. "[Infor CRM Business Edition] meets both of those needs."

Infor acquired small CRM software provider Epiphany in August 2005. In the last few years, Infor has been working to retain and build upon the Epiphany base. Bill Band, principal analyst with Forrester Research, says that (before even before it was acquired by Infor) Epiphany had a decent CRM product, but had trouble being viable. Since securing customer retention with its Infor CRM Epiphany offering, Infor is more actively focused on putting forth new products. Timmermans says that in addition to the Business Edition CRM, Infor will be coming out with several new product announcements in the near future.

Band notes that shifting into the SMB market, which is the fastest growing segment for CRM right now, is a wise move for Infor. "Infor has a large customer base in the mid-market from [its] ERP offerings," he says. "From [Infor's] point of view, it makes sense to offer a CRM product based on the Epiphany code, where they have a lot of presence, and in ERP, where smaller market companies are interested in CRM these days." It is an ideal opportunity to cross sell.

Band points out that the Business Edition offering seems to be solid, fully featured, and priced well for the marketplace; however, at the moment, it is only suited for companies working on a Microsoft platform.

Timmermans says that a compelling feature of the Infor business edition product is its flexibility to grow with a business. The SMB product uses the same code as that written for the large business CRM solution. So, mid-market businesses that experience acquisitions and growth can seamlessly upgrade the CRM solution with Infor. Timmermans says Infor will be operating under its "Three E" strategy to "enrich, extend, and evolve," and is presently working on integrating its point-to-point solutions. Additionally, he says that it's on Infor's roadmap to soon begin integrating in an open service architecture

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