Evolving Software in Today's Shared Economy

Charles Phillips has served as the Chief Executive Officer at Infor since 2010, after spending seven years at Oracle as co-president and director. Infor is the world’s third-largest enterprise applications and services provider, and the third largest privately owned software-company. Under Mr. Phillips’ direction, Infor has increased its reputation as one of the most potent sources of information renovation in the industry and as an expert in industrial software. Prior to his professional career, Mr. Phillips was a Captain in the Marines and obtained a JD from NYU Law School.

Opening his speech with a joke, Mr. Phillips sets an informal tone that is maintained throughout his speech. He addresses the audience directly and thanks them for coming as well as commenting on the distances they must have travelled to attend the conference. Following these opening remarks, Mr. Phillips explains that he will focus his speech on a description of Infor itself, as well as an explanation on the booming sector of the economy that is the enterprise software industry.

Infor is re-inventing parts of the global economy with software, Mr. Phillips explains, as it affects the automated aspects of networks and industries that are otherwise hidden. The enterprise software industry is big, complex and touches many things, and is only at the beginning of its life cycle. “Technology drives more of it and we’re just at the beginning of it”, Mr. Phillips announces excitedly as he guides the students through his colorful presentation.

Software affects all functional areas of a company and is geared towards making the company more consumer-friendly. Mr. Phillips claims that enterprise software and business applications are the forefront of this transition from paper forms to digital software and considers some of the benefits of this shift, “New technologies are better, more powerful, and have unlimited storage in the cloud.”

Leading the students through the supply chain, Mr. Phillips proceeds to demonstrate the importance of software in all aspects of industry, using an Amazon package as an example. The importance of automation in the logistics and details of the delivery process is an example of the market that is multiple times the size of the consumer market in which Infor is a player.

Segueing into a discussion of the company itself, Mr. Phillips gives details on Infor’s clientele and personnel, emphasizing its global spread in over 200 countries and territories, as well as its 2.8 billion dollar revenue. The growth rate of Infor is still in flux, as is evidenced by the fact that it has accrued seven thousand new customers in the last thirty months. Infor is headquartered in New York, as Mr. Phillips believes that it is better to hire people in New York, rather than in Silicon Valley.

Appealing to students in the midst of their job search, Mr. Phillips continues to discuss the opportunities in enterprise software for students who do not have a technology background. Infor’s complex software needs to be explained to the client and therefore there are positions that do not require a programming background. The business problems that need to be solved require smart people who are able to use technology in an inventive way but do not necessarily need to be experts in programming.

Moving into a discussion of Infor’s breakdown of client industries, Mr. Phillips explains the different micro-verticals in various industries and the importance of automation to achieve maximum utilization.  He then ties in Infor’s dedication to each individual client to the 96% renewal rate that is integral to the company’s success.  Infor’s success is also owing to the Sharing Economy, which emphasizes the importance of the cloud service. Infor has a network that allows work to be sent to anyone else in the network, “You only use what you pay for, it’s very granular”, Mr. Phillips describes.

Infor strives to create a beautiful product, as Mr. Phillips explains that unattractive software limits use. The cost of technology has decreased and consumer devices are now ahead of where business devices are in terms of use. Infor took this on as a core competence and aimed to change the experience people have with these applications, “I am making a bet that the new generation of users of business softwares won’t want to use the old applications the way they look today,” Mr. Phillips concluded.

Mr. Phillips ended his address with a description of the creative group created within Infor, named Hook and Loop. Infor hired employees who had creative backgrounds that centered on design in order to ensure that the aesthetic appeal of Infor’s products was a top priority. “The attention to detail and the focus on design attracts users to Infor’s products”, Mr. Phillips emphasized.

Ending his speech with an invitation to the students to ask questions, Mr. Phillips encourages the attendees to contact him if they are interested in internships. “This is a very complex industry but there are lots of ways to jump in and add value”, Mr. Phillips says with a smile as a sea of hands erupts to ask him questions.