22 maj 2016
Alistaire Sorbie, CEO IFS
IFS har under de senaste 15 åren uppvisat en ständig tillväxt och ökande lönsamhet och är idag en av världens mest stabila och växande leverantörer av affärssystem, och en av få som klarat sig ifrån att bli uppköpta. Vi har träffat koncernen CEO Alistair Sorbie för att få information om nuläget och framtiden.
IFS experienced major difficulties (as many other ERP-vendors) short after the Millennium. The last 10 years has however been a remarkable journey towards one of the leading ERP-vendors globally. What has been your recipe?
Answer: The dotcom boom of the early 2000s impacted the whole of the industry, but we were quick to steady our ship. Since my appointment as CEO a decade ago, I have made sure that the company focuses on measured growth that can navigate turbulent times that impact the overall economy (like recessions) as well as the industries we focus on (like the recent challenges in the oil & gas market with decreasing oil prices), whilst at the same time accelerating our own growth when economies are doing well.
Today IFS is a global company with owned offices in more than 50 countries and with some of the tech industry’s biggest players (like Microsoft, Accenture etc) partnering with us. It means IFS now has more than 1,000,000 users all over the world.
We have developed strong industry expertise and product capabilities that reflect the needs in our target sectors, like manufacturing, infrastructure, oil & gas and retail, to mention a few. Company acquisitions have enabled controlled growth in strategic areas and resulted in new additions to our product suite. We have also had a strong focus on customer TCO the past years to give the customers maximum value for their money. We have expanded our Sri Lankan operations where we have employed over 700 highly skilled people– in fact we’re the second largest technology employer in the country! IFS’s cloud offering with IFS Managed Cloud on Microsoft Azure has really taken off since launching 18 months ago, which is nice to see.
In Sweden we still consider IFS as a Swedish solution, even though the company has been active on the international arena for many years. But does the company still have a Swedish soul and how would you say that IFS is different from other global ERP-vendors?
Answer: We are proud of IFS’s Swedish heritage that has been paired with a global go-to-market approach. The Swedish culture within IFS is still reflected in our pragmatic attitude, working closely with our customers and the strong commitment to innovation. What we always hear when we conduct our customer surveys is that our people are what really sets us apart from the competition. The high technical competence, together with strong industry expertise, service mindedness and the will to go that extra mile to always make our customers happy, distinguishes IFS. This has a great cyclical effect in both keeping customers and employees happy, and I’m proud that we can boast about some of the highest satisfaction and retention ratings in the industry.
Recently the ownership of IFS has shifted after many years of a stable group of investors. Do you think this change will have impact on your future strategy?
Answer: I really enjoyed working with our previous owners and Board, and we owe a lot to them for their support in growing the company to what it is today. However having EQT as our new majority shareholder is a welcome move – they are committed to helping us accelerate our strategy and achieving our growth goals.
IFS’s strategy will continue to focus on growing through an expanding eco system and acquisitions within our target segments. EQT will provide both knowledge and capital that facilitates our work in that strategical direction and also enables us to raise our level of ambition and accelerate our growth.
EQT supports IFS’s strategy by continuing to invest into the further development of our industry-specific product suite to maintain and enhance the strong customer satisfaction levels that IFS has earnt. EQT will also use its deep business expertise to advise on strategical direction and focus on mergers & acquisitions to complement IFS’s product offering and capabilities in order to accelerate the development of the Company.
IFS has shown a steady growth with increasing profitability during the last years. What are your goals for the coming 5 years? What are you aiming for?
Answer: With the help from EQT we are aiming to build an even stronger product for our customers and accelerate our growth. We have got feedback from our customers that our capabilities for managing global businesses are highly appreciated. That is also reflected in our customer base where several global companies have chosen IFS, like NEC, Pepsi, Saab, Maersk and Seadrill to mention a few. We are a truly global company today, with 2800 employees and hundreds of partners serving our 1,000,000 users around the World.
Continued global growth is high on our agenda. Scandinavia will keep being a key market for us, but we also see huge growth potential in North America, Asia and the rest of Europe for example. We will also look to expand our partner eco system further, which will be important for growth in all our markets.
We see that some technologies will grow in importance for us in the coming years. Our cloud sales has really accelerated over the past year and I see that growth continuing. The need for solutions utilizing Internet of Things is also on the rise, and I see that IFS will continue exploring that technology in the future.
IFS has always been a frontier company when it comes to innovation. Can you explain your ambition with IFS Labs and how this can help your customers?
Answer: IFS Labs has been created to inspire and guide our customers into the future. IFS Labs looks beyond today’s expectations of enterprise software. It takes inspiration from consumer technologies and innovative solutions from a range of industries, and applies these innovative concepts to IFS Applications. At IFS Labs, we prove concepts today that customers will ask for tomorrow to make their everyday work more productive, efficient and inspiring. Technologies that IFS Labs is researching right now include wearables, internet of things, 3D visualization for construction (BIM), voice recognition for ERP, and public data integration. Examples of current products that were a result from successful IFS Labs projects are IFS Streams and IFS TouchApps.
Finally, IFS is recognized within professional services and now also within retail. Do you foresee other industry segments the coming years?
Answer: In the foreseeable future our focus will be on expanding our presence in our 11 key industries, of which retail is one. We want to maintain our strong industry expertise and make sure that both our products and people are ideal for those key segments rather than spreading ourselves too thin – at the end of the day, our customers continue to tell us how much they value our industry expertise.