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Infor Enterprise Automation looks to ease RPA for ERP

Infor unveiled Enterprise Automation, which is designed to help customers bring RPA to Infor cloud ERP applications and Developer Portal, a development and integration environment.

Infor is bringing process automation in-house with the debut of Infor Enterprise Automation, a cloud platform designed to enable customers to automate business processes.

Infor also unveiled its Developer Portal, which includes tools intended to enable developers to build applications and extensions on Infor cloud ERP applications.

The new products were showcased this week at Infor Now, a customer conference held in New Orleans.

Infor Enterprise Automation is a set of services that integrate technologies including robotic process automation (RPA), data integration, AI and machine learning into a single SaaS platform.

The goal is to enable customers to discover processes that should be automated and implement RPA on those processes, according to Vignesh Subramanian, vice president for product management at Infor. This helps companies improve operational performance by making processes more efficient and freeing front-end employees from tedious manual work.

Prior to Enterprise Automation, Infor customers needed to enlist third-party RPA applications to automate processes, Subramanian said in a briefing.

"Infor did not have our own in-house RPA, so we asked our customers to go to applications like UiPath, Automation Anywhere or Blue Prism," he said. "That's a gap in our core portfolio that we cannot afford, and we decided that's a core capability we had to have in-house."

Infor Enterprise Automation is intended to enable companies that have more limited IT resources make these automations and integrations without needing to go to systems integrators like Accenture or Deloitte, Subramanian said.

To that end, it includes a content catalog with standard use cases that give a head start on building automations, he said. The types of use cases can apply to every organization, such as invoice processing, proof-of-delivery processing, bill-of-lading processing and returns processing.

This also includes best practices for when automation is most appropriate for a process, Subramanian said.

When automation fails, it's because they chose the wrong type of processes to automate.
Vignesh SubramanianVice president for product management, Infor

"When automation fails, it's because they chose the wrong type of processes to automate," he said. "We provide them a cheat sheet or playbook that show what conditions make it a good idea to automate and when it's not a good idea to automate."

The Infor Developer Portal contains tutorials that include information about every piece of Infor technology, YouTube videos that explain how to do things, more than 50 tutorials with step-by-step instructions on how to solve problems, and a complete API library across all Infor applications and best-practice guides, Subramanian said.

"It's meant to help our developer community take advantage of these tools and be able to build their own IP around these technologies," he said.

Infor Enterprise Automation and Developer Portal are available now, with pricing to be determined. Enterprise Automation is available as an add-on purchase to Infor OS, with pricing per hour with an unlimited number of bots and unlimited number of developers.

Infor tools will help customers' development needs

Enterprise companies need ERP vendors to help them achieve "enterprise acceleration," or the ability to move faster, become more agile and realize better efficiencies through software that has a better fit for their requirements, said Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president at Constellation Research.

Right now that can't come from only out-of-the-box automation, Mueller said. It also needs PaaS capabilities from a SaaS vendor that supports building, extending and integrating use cases with an enterprise automation platform (EAP), he explained.

"Infor has been one of the early movers in the EAP space with Infor OS, as they had to do more due to the move to cloud and the need for the extension and customization for the microverticals," he said. "It's now pushing forward with its new RPA capabilities in Enterprise Automation and the new Developer Portal."

Infor Enterprise Automation and Developer Portal are comparable to EAPs from other enterprise vendors, including SAP Business Technology Platform, Oracle Visual Builder and APEX, Workday Cloud Platform, Ceridian Integration Studio and Microsoft Power Apps.

Infor Enterprise Automation provides a good tool set for Infor's large customers to develop process automations, but the trick they will need to pull off is making this repeatable and usable for all customers and partners, said Predrag Jakovljevic, principal industry analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers.

Infor is hoping that having its own RPA development platform will mean customers don't need to go to RPA vendors like UiPath or Blue Prism, Jakovljevic said.

"They will not compete standalone in RPA, but it should be just good enough for their customers and partners," he said.

The Infor Developer Portal is a good idea that enables customers to develop useful extensions to Infor applications, Jakovljevic added.

"Infor is trying to make their RPA, AI, low code, API integration, data lake and process intelligence so easy that it can be used time and again," he said. "It remains to be seen how it can then be pulled into the core system. Some might still be too complex, rocket science solutions that are not easy to apply generally."

Jim O'Donnell is a TechTarget senior news writer who covers ERP and other enterprise applications for TechTarget Editorial.

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