Observations from IFS World Conference 2019

By Ed O'Brien

Category:
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Summary

IFS World ConferenceGlobal software company, IFS, recently hosted its IFS World Conference 2019 in Boston.  The company, which has more than 10,000 customers and a presence in over 50 countries, showcased a wide variety of new product features, acquisitions, alliances and partnerships, and customer success stories at the event.

Key observations include:

  • IFS continues to invest, innovate, and expand in key areas that support its core markets of enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM), and field service management (FSM).
  • The company continues its focus on industry-specific solutions, most notably in aerospace and defense, energy, utilities and resources, engineering, construction and infrastructure, and manufacturing. 
  • The company continues to expand its field service capabilities with its definitive agreement to purchase FSM provider, Astea International.

The Journey Continues   

IFS continues along on its journey from a niche, maintenance-centric software provider to a provider of a full suite of enterprise EAM, ERP, and FSM solutions.  At the same time, the company is embracing newer technology and providing its customers with the choice to deploy its solution on-premise or as SaaS.  Considering the company’s recent investments and innovations in both horizontal and vertical capabilities, the “For The Challengers” theme of this year’s IFS World event appeared to be particularly appropriate.  

IFS World ConferenceIFS is traveling further down the digital transformation road with investments in such areas as mobility, AI, ML, robotics process automation (RPA), and predictive analytics.  At the same time, the company is ramping-up investments in areas like integration and interoperability by leveraging open APIs, Industrial IoT, edge computing connectivity, and other capabilities.  The new open-standards API layer offered connects to both the core and other systems.  According to IFS, this offers greater flexibility, interoperability, and speed; and the solutions will support universal integration to other applications, platforms, services, and databases with a single, common user interface.  

In addition to acquiring data from sensors and devices, IFS solutions enable organizations to combine Industrial IoT, AI, and ML to offer a foundation for quickly gathering and analyzing data and leveraging predictive maintenance and predictive analytics capabilities across complex, distributed machines and assets.

At the same time, the company continues to emphasize ease-of-use and ease-of-operation for customers.  An example of the former is the clean UI and intuitive operation inherent in IFS Applications 10.  Examples of the latter include customer choice regarding deployment options, and the use of an evergreen software philosophy available with SaaS deployment options. 

IFS Applications 10 Capabilities Continue to Expand

In addition to developing new features and capabilities to support manufacturing, maintenance, and service management with ERP, EAM, and FSM, IFS continues to broaden its reach with expanded financials, human capital management (HCM), customer relationship management (CRM), and other horizontal solutions.

The company’s layered application architecture (LAA), declarative development, and open APIs all contribute to near-zero effort for upgrades.  This applies for both SaaS and on-premise versions of its solutions.  Industry-specific solutions are also available for markets such as aerospace and defense, energy, utilities and resources, engineering, construction and infrastructure, and manufacturing. 

In addition, the company continues to invest in augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality to improve the quality, speed, and cost effectiveness of service and maintenance delivered in distributed or remote locations.  Examples include remotely assisting customers performing their own service and allowing senior technicians oversee complex service operations from afar.  Rather than subjecting customers to separate AR tools and platforms, the company embeds AR within service applications and tools used in the field.

Expanding IFS' Presence in the FSM Market

With its pending purchase of Astea, IFS is looking to extend its presence in the global FSM market and expand its FSM capabilities and reach.  This acquisition will enable the combined company to serve more customers in more markets through a broader network of talent and industry partners. Astea serves midsize and large enterprise customers in telecommunications, controls & instrumentation, fire & security, medical devices, manufacturing, industrial, and retail equipment verticals.

The acquisition will further expand IFS’s global footprint beyond its more than 10,000 customers worldwide (8,000 in service management).  In 2020, IFS anticipates FSM license revenues to grow at more than 40 percent, approximately 80 percent of which it believes will be recurring.

Conclusions

The IFS World Conference 2019 was both informative and inspiring.  The announcements and presentations clearly articulated the company’s vision and reinforced the appropriateness for IFS Applications 10 solutions for a wide variety of customers in asset-intensive industries. 

Not only is it offering new features across ERP, EAM, and FSM, the company is expanding its depth and breadth of available solutions for specific vertical industries.  In addition to features in these markets, IFS is expanding its presence in FSM with the pending acquisition of Astea.  The company is also offering expanded capabilities in such areas as open APIs, mobility, analytics, and augmented and mixed reality.  These solutions support universal integration to other applications, platforms, services, and databases with a single, common user interface.

 

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Keywords: EAM, FSM, ERP, Digital Transformation, AI, ML, IFS, Astea International, ARC Advisory Group.

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