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Live blog coverage from the IFS World Conference 2018 keynote session, “‘What’s next’ from IFS.”

IFS World Conference 2018 is underway, and the opening session is a big one. Not only do we have the public debut of the new CEO, but we have details on IFS Applications 10, a major new release.

Amy McWhirter, our moderator, kicks off by expanding on the conference theme — the idea of connecting to what’s next. That’s the connection with people here, the connection with customers to deliver business value and the connection with new technologies and products — including IFS’s new releases.

Just one month ago, Darren Roos was appointed the new CEO of IFS, supported by the board, and he’s on stage now.

IFS World Conference 2018: Darren Roos and IFS Applications 10

Darren Roos

“Getting the opportunity to meet so many people — already — has been great,” says Roos. From his perspective, he’s grateful that people made the time for this event in such a time-poor age. Being new in the role, he wants to use every second to learn about the customers, and what they need from IFS.

What attracted him to IFS? The market is changing, there’s no company that isn’t being disrupted. He wanted to find a company that was doing great work – and disrupting. He has the experience to grow and scale the business internationally, without changing the ethos of the company. Too many software companies chase business just to keep the lights on. Others chase business to grow because their investors demand it. But few put quality first like IFS does.

The business is growing, as is the business headcount. The growth in employees is important because it takes people to deliver the value that customers need. The investors are 100% supportive of the growth in headcount.

True customer-centricity

Partners are incredibly important to IFS, says Roos. The company will continue to focus on quality over quantity, unlike the sprawling ecosystems competitors have built. An IFS partner needs to bring something unique to the table, in terms of skills or products. There’s a great group of partners, who can really deliver value to customers.

Objectively measuring how happy our customers are is really important, be it NPS or the Gartner Peer Insights rating. Lots of vendors say they are customer-focused, but we really measure it. There are a few things that are really important to our customers: faster time to value is vital. An investment can’t afford to be dormant – it needs to deliver value to the company quickly. They want risk mitigation and vendor assurance.

We have to be very customer-centric, and not in a fluffy way, if we want to meet our customer goals. We need to prove that through ROI and profits delivered to our customers.

What’s next?

There are a lot of new trends – AI, for example. We’re deploying that in IFS Applications. We’re seeing a massive shift towards mobility, with many customers ONLY deploying on mobile.

The biggest trend is towards a next-generation user interface. Our applications need to be easier to use and more intuitive. Roos’s four year old loves the iPad but is confused by a computer because it’s not intuitive.

There’s a lot of discussion about people versus automation. Nobody wants to be doing a mundane, predictive job. They want to add value. We want to automate the routine, and leverage people to do unique tasks.

All companies need to be more engaged with our end customers. The disruption of black cabs in London in a good example. They’re very knowledgeable but quite belligerent in nature. People are moving to Uber because the experience isn’t great — you couldn’t summon a cab, or have a quiet ride, or even pay by card. The functional output was the same, but the experience different.

If you don’t get closer to your customer, you’ll get disintermediated or, worse, disrupted. We have a great set of solutions to help customer bridge this gap.

IFS Labs experiment with all the latest emerging technologies. AR, VR, AI and so on. But we also engage with customers to find out what they want — and then bring the two together. As CEO, he wants to focus much more strongly on new technologies people will actually use.

The IFS Applications 10 launch is consistent with this theme: it will be the tools you, the customer, asked for and that you need. But what we’re not going to do is jump on the AI bandwagon, “name” our solution, and spend a tonne on marketing. NO IFS-branded AI solution, just AI where we can use it.

Roos wants customers to leave knowing that IFS exists to make their businesses better. If you’re an IFS technology user, you have world-class technology – and we’ll make sure you derive value from it.

IFS Applications 10

IFS Applications 10

Thomas Säld, SVP Research and Development

Today, we are launching IFS Applications 10 to the market. We’re launching a great new user experience. We continue to invest it in because we know it’s important to you.

We’ve also improved it by making it easier to connect to the devices that matter to your business with the internet of things. IFS has used Artificial Intelligence for years – but we’re accelerating that.

But all of this needs to be connected to your core business application. And it’s got equal functionality in the cloud, or hosted on-premises.

There are five companies we have worked closely with:

  • Valmont
  • Chief
  • Portsmouth Aviation
  • Volac
  • Hexpol Compounding

Partnering with us as an early adopter takes a special kind of trust, and we’re very grateful for that.

Many people attending the conference are long-term customers who have seen many launches – but Säld has never seen as much excitement about a launch as he is for this one.

Dan Matthews, CTO

The greatness of software tools comes down to the user experience. If you put great tools that let them get the job done quickly in the hands of your staff, you build a better business. Back in 2007, we had a vision that every user would love IFS Applications, and with Application 10, we take a huge step towards that.

IFS Aurena is a distinctive, browser-based interface. It brings people together and has a feeling of light and space. It has an Aurena bot that allows you to ask questions of the system: like checking if you’re free to help a colleague and to book a day of leave. And you can do this through natural, chart interface — on your phone. No laptops, no VPNs.

On your tablet, you can view a lobby of all the things that need doing. Invoices, leave requests, etc… Work on them on your commute, and then when you log in to your computer at work, the most recently used screens are surfaced for you on the computer. You can finish what you were doing.

You can search through people’s skills and qualification, and message them within the app. You can order an aircon service through the HVAC lobby, if your suppliers uses IFS Applications 10.

IFS Aurena sets our sights high, but putting the foundations in for the user experiences we want to build in the future. We want to be consumer-first. We want to be as well-designed as consumer applications.

Look at lists of things — IFS Applications has lots of them. Consumer apps don’t expect you to search for exactly what you’re looking at: it presents a list and lets you filter towards exactly what you need. You can have a rich information view, or a list view – but the list view is now adaptive to screen size.

But consumer-first does not mean consumer-only. You can still get a fully customizable grid view, if that’s what you need.

IFS Applications 10 runs in all modern browsers – Safari, Chroma and Edge, and is built on HTML5, Angular and TypeScript. There’s a layered application architecture, that allows you build exactly what you need.

Innovation without disruption

When we make a change, we like to give you time to make that change. Applications 10 will roll out in stages, and Aurena will sit initially alongside IFS Enterprise Explorer for the full lifecycle of IFS Applications 10 but will replace it eventually. The progressive rollout will focus on casual users first, the CRM and HCM, them everything. Aurena will then become the basis of the native apps, too.

The Internet of Things is no longer a question of “if” but “when and how” will you connect your equipment and products. Back in Gothenburg, we introduced our four-step model for IoT and the IoT Business Connector based on it. Since then we’ve added the IoT Discovery Manager.

The next technology due to follow this curve is Artificial Intelligence. It’s not new. We’ve been using it, but IFS Applications 10 is a step up, and a platform of innovations to come. It’s not a technology s much as a set of technologies, which have reached a new level of maturity, availability and affordability.

AI will be applied in three key areas:

  • Human-machine interaction – like natural language processing
  • Predictive maintenance and service, though machine learning
  • Automation, both automating she formerly human decisions, and doing better versions of existing automations

Our goal is to put AI in your products in a way that is practical and affordable, without huge systems interrogations processes. So, they need to connect to the core.

Connecting to the core

IoT needs to connect to the core. AI needs to connect to the core. People need to connect to the core. Other apps need to connect to the core. That’s getting easier with a new RESTful API, using oData and OpenID. This is not just useful for our customers – we’re using it to build our own tools, including the Aurena bot.

The majority of our new customers use could hosting, but it’s not right for everyone. So, you can get IFS Application 10 as:

  • SaaS
  • Managed hosting
  • On-Premises

It the same app in all three scenarios.

  • IFS Applications will have cloud parity
  • IFS Field Service Management will be cloud first
  • Workwave and Value Add will be cloud only

We’re seeing all industries moving towards servitization, and we’re aiming to make IFS the #1 service-centric ERP.

When your people and things are connected you can benefit from many optimizations. We’ve built Applications 10 on the basis that many of your businesses will be deriving more revenue from services, including tools for managing demand driven MRP and better costings estimates, ensuring that you get the margins you need.

Your world is constantly changing, With IFS Applications 10 you’re on a great platform for managing that. You — and we — are ready for what’s next.


Image credit: This digital graphic was drawn and recorded live during the first keynote session of IFS World Conference 2018 by the visual communication firm, The Sketch Effect. The digital graphic recording will be available to watch soon.

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