Infor is described by Charles Phillips Infor CEO and wife Karen Phillips as the ‘largest startup in the world’. This description is not entirely accurate. Infor is not a startup at all, having been around for quite some time. But on the other hand, it is true, because it has completely changed its modus operandi since Charles Phillips became CEO, rapidly growing to the third largest enterprise software company in the world, after Oracle (Charles Phillips’ previous employer) and SAP. It seems, to many, as if Infor came out of nothing.
Phillips seems to have changed everything. He has changed the company’s headquarters (moving from Georgia to New York), the way it designs software (focused on beauty), the way it is offered (moving, as much as possible, from on premise licenses to cloud services), the executive management team (attracting most of his top talent team from Oracle), the design team (now called ‘Hook and Loop’), and more. In fact, even the company’s main product has changed, and new ones are being added all the time.
But are all those changes good? Sometimes, companies seem to change for the sake of it, for CEOs to be able to demonstrate that they embrace change and love to be innovative. But it seems that, under Phillips, the transformation has not only been complete, it has been extremely valuable as well.
The Verdict on the Phillips Transformation
It took three years for Phillips to completely change Infor, and the achievement has been nothing short of remarkable. Larry Ellison, Oracle’s big boss, once said that it may be easy to write a check, it is far more difficult to write software. Interesting, after saying that, Ellison hired Phillips, who promptly began an aggressive acquisition campaign, growing Oracle to dazzling new heights. This acquisition strategy, by the way, is also implemented in Infor.
Infor is a privately held company, which is always a benefit. Furthermore, the investors are happy to pay for the change, not in the least because one of the main investors is Infor’s previous CEO. Because of this support, Infor has been able to become two things: an innovator, and an acquirer.
Phillips loves acquisitions and he believes that they are a legitimate strategic business model. He acquired 70 companies during his time at Oracle, and he is already heading in the same direction with Infor. With every acquisition, things change.
This isn’t the impressive thing, however. Rather, it is how good the results that the company delivers actually are. Phillips has committed himself to creating something that is usable, as well as beautiful, and he has delivered on that.
His vision is nothing short of compelling. Every potential customer can access a demo system of what Infor could do for them, and when you look at it, you can see just how different it actually is going to be. Hotel reservation systems, for instance, are set to transform the world.
Phillips isn’t done yet either. He is committed to a long journey, but he is confident, as are his team and his wife.