Let agility be your watchword as you triumph in tough times with IFS

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IFS Connect at the Millennium Point in Birmingham proved an inspirational day for a packed-out audience of customers, partners and sponsors.

With eight presentations in the main auditorium with senior IFS executives and leading partners including Cedar Bay, Anthesis, Morgan Motor Company, Boomi, Jaguar Land Rover and a choice of 21 break-outs after lunch, the event, on Tuesday, 16th May offered a wealth of insight, advice and expertise for everyone attending. When not in the main auditorium, sponsors’ stands were full of people networking and unlocking new opportunities throughout the day.

Drawn from across the UK and Ireland, the audience heard how IFS is surging ahead of competitors despite the current economic and political challenges that affect most economies. Alan Laing, Managing Director UK & Ireland said: “We have been, and continue to be, very focused on our core six industries. We maintain our leadership across all four solution sets – FSM, EAM, ERP and ESM, with new customers coming from across the spread of industries.”,

IFS CEO, Darren Roos claimed that rather than efficiency, agility must continue to be the priority for organisations facing these headwinds. Agility was what organisations needed to evolve and thrive in world of often unforeseen pressures. This was how they could grab the opportunities that would undoubtedly arise, he said.

He also said IFS had outperformed competitors by a factor of three over the last five years, achieving 300 per cent market-share in its asset and service capabilities areas of focus. The emphasis for IFS was staying firmly “hyper-focused” on what success looks like for customers and delivering on those aims. This would maintain IFS’s essential differentiation from competitors. The company was spending three times more on R&D than five years ago, with the emphasis on serving the needs of the entire customer base – those in the cloud and remote (on-premises). He said that the immediate aim for IFS was to produce better products faster.

In his words, constant innovation is at the heart of the company, and part of this was simplifying technology complexity and lowering total cost of ownership for customers by embedding advances such as AI, ML and analytics in a single platform – not as add-on applications. But IFS would not try to solve every challenge in every industry or be “everything to everyone”. IFS would instead be striving to make integrations with specialist partners’ services and applications easy and highly effective in line with customer requirements in each industry. Enabling composability was why IFS’s investment in APIs was significant, he said, enabling customers to pursue a best-of-breed approach where they wanted to. In-built scalability meant IFS supported the success of its customers every step of the way.

Product roadmap for acceleration, optimisation and global agility

The product development roadmap for IFS was outlined by Cathie Hall, Senior Vice President Experience, who explored the themes of “Accelerate and optimise”, “Connect global operations” and “Driving ESG goals”. She said the main thrust was to help customers to maximise their investment, achieve agility and build resilience. 2022 R2 had seen the introduction of new features to IFS Cloud such as cash analysis modelling and the first phase of streamlined MES (Manufacturing Execution System).

With its new cadence of releases, IFS would use its understanding of how end-users experience current capabilities and how customers would use new technologies such as ChatGPT to ensure they are embedded to ensure “that the customer gets the end product that they need”. The 2023 R1 release capabilities would continue to build on the themes of R2 and be centred around people, assets and services, she said. The connected factory, unleashing AI and IoT was a strong set of capabilities to be included.

Construction customers, for example, would be able to increase efficiency handling larger datasets. The IFS focus on the asset lifecycle meant achieving a better balance between maintenance and operations, providing more out-of-the-box, readily usable technology for scenarios to minimise downtime.

Connected global operations more focused on adopting a mindset about how to work globally but also manage a multi-national workforce, asset transparency, complex sales flows and improving moments of service and cost-to-serve. Additionally, under the ESG heading, enhanced data collection and reporting across regions would be embedded in IFS Cloud, she said. With sustainability came opportunities to think differently and gain a competitive advantage and increase agility.

Graham Chapman, Chief Operations Officer at The Morgan Motor Company contributed to this part of the day, explaining how IFS had helped his organisation to transform its operations. Morgan had been able to innovate, increase efficiency, gain increased customer insight and advance towards ESG goals, he said, with installation of IFS Cloud taking place over a weekend.

Major initiatives to improve customer support

Mark Moffat, Chief Customer Officer, and Raymond Jones SVP Unified Support outlined improvements that would lead to more repeatable consistency while retaining customer intimacy. This would mean listening to customers even more. “How to take a phenomenal product to the next level – that’s important to us,” said Moffat. “We take a lot of pride in our focus on value outcomes and value-engineering.” IFS remains very interested in maintaining relationships will all customers, he stressed.

Raymond Jones said IFS had created a new unified support organisation to harmonise support across IFS Cloud and remote customers, and to provide significant improvements. This important development would be live in June he said. There would be an intuitive portal for customers and unified processes as part of a user-centric approach involving more developed use of customer feedback. A move towards greater self-service had seen the creation of 1,000 knowledge base articles for customers, and partners would benefit from greater insight.

The penultimate session of the day featured a discussion between Neil Millican, Digital Director – Industrial Operations at Jaguar Land Rover, with Phil Ballance, of IFS. The main topic explored how IFS has assisted with Jaguar Land Rover’s important initiatives in circularity and remanufacturing. Alan Laing, wrapped up the day, thanking all contributors and emphasising how IFS was surging ahead with customer-centred innovation.