While day 1 of the IFS World Conference 2012 in Gothenburg, Sweden was mostly about mobility, day 2 expanded into some other interesting themes and topics. IFS has long positioned itself as a single-instance global enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution alternative to SAP and Oracle. The realm of corporate social responsibility (CSR) presents notable challenges for organizations due to the intricacy of global and local laws and regulations and the difficulty in navigating them. In his keynote presentation (which he mostly repeated in his subsequent presentation to the press/analysts), IFS CTO Dan Matthews pointedly stated that CSR is difficult to manage at a global level. Research by IFS and analysts has identified more than 140 CSR laws and regulations, 65 percent of which are mandatory. Add local flavors to that, and the level of complexity skyrockets.
To that end, IFS announced the launch of four new CSR solutions that are applicable in a wide range of industries, covering environmental needs, workplace safety, global trade management (GTM), and quality compliance aspects of CSR. IFS seems to understand well the importance of CSR, both in terms of legal compliance and leveraging enhanced business insight to boost profitability. While some political parties and the general mood of the public in the US might currently be inclined to belittle CSR and green (sustainability) initiatives as mere tree-hugging, CSR is a wide-ranging concept that has the potential to impact IFS customers’ businesses.
In addition to saving the planet and creating the perception of being a responsible corporate citizen (with both its tangible and intangible benefits), smart companies view CSR as an opportunity to improve their business processes and competitiveness. After all, some regulations will never be repealed. And what if, say, a US company that doesn’t have strict local regulations still wants to compete in regions with more affinity for environmental protection and regulations? By closely monitoring the market and working with its customers, IFS has developed fully integrated solutions that can help customers turn the challenges of (often voluntary) non-financial reporting into a business improvement opportunity.
The new IFS CSR solutions, which have been developed in close collaboration with industry-leading customers, are as follows:
In conclusion, IFS joins the elite club of ERP vendors that can help their customers with global CSR and GTM needs (e.g., SAP, Oracle, Infor, and QAD). Some of its quality- and sustainability-related capabilities are often available in the product lifecycle management (PLM)/computer-aided design (CAD) packages offered by large vendors. It will be interesting to watch whether IFS customers will opt for these capabilities from their ERP or their PLM provider. It is also interesting that these features are delivered on-premise as part of the core IFS Applications suite. In contrast, SAP offers SAP Carbon Impact OnDemand (former Clear Standards) as a cloud service.
TEC blog post (Oct 2011): IFS: Of Vertical Focus, and Customers’ Agility and Choice??
TEC overview: IFS Applications