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Addressing IFS World Conference attendees today, the first man to swim across the North Pole spoke about courage. He urged attendees to make sure everything they do is driven by courage.

Lewis Pugh, a lawyer and long distance swimmer, told the story of his swim in the Arctic Ocean and how he was tempted to give up after a five-minute trial that left him shaken and seriously doubtful about the endeavor. But encouraged by members of his team, when the time came he jumped in and completed the kilometer-long swim.

Finding the courage to perform a seemingly impossible task was one of three lessons Pugh said he learned from his experience in the North Pole. The other two:

  • Have a simple, clear vision
  • Assemble the best team possible to see the vision through

Lewis Pugh

You could say the same lessons apply to any company embarking on a transformation journey as they decide which technology to adopt and for what purpose. Throughout the event, presenters have stressed the simple, yet important, theme of setting goals for transformation and finding the right tools and partners to execute those goals. And while they haven’t necessarily talked about courage, it’s no secret how much of a role it can play in moving a project forward.

Key Takeaways

By way of farewell, IFS COO Michael Ouissi shared three takeaways that he hopes event attendees will take to heart:

  1. IFS has chosen to focus on a set of solutions and industries in order be the best in both areas.
  2. The company treats customer choice as a religion. What software you choose is up to you, and IFS is ready to help make those choices and carry out your vision.
  3. IFS puts value at the center of all its endeavors. “We are for the challengers, and we hopefully enable you to challenge the status quo in your industries,” Ouissi said.

IFS views the bulk of its customers as challengers, much like the company sees itself, hence the #forthechallengers hashtag the company created for this year’s event. Challengers are the disrupters that give market leaders a run for their money through innovation and bold market moves.

Earlier in the day, Ouissi welcomed to the stage a famous challenger in the CrossFit world, three-time champion Tia-Clair Toomey. She spoke about the effort and drive it took to become “the fittest woman on earth” after placing second twice in the CrossFit competition.

Toomey had some advice for the challengers in the audience: “Whenever I look back at goals I set for myself, it comes back to focusing on what you can control. I truly believe in people just setting goals for themselves.” Put your energy into meeting your goals as opposed to focusing on other companies. Those other companies, meanwhile, are focused on their own goals to make themselves better, she said.

Future-shaping Technologies

To help customers fulfill the challenger role, IFS presented its vision for technologies that are shaping the future such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and Internet of Things (IoT) and bots.

IFS has launched a bot with its Aurena user experience, which the company plans to refine and make more functional in the near future. IFS also is introducing a machine learning capability in 2020 that will be embedded in new products. The machine learning engine will work with specific use cases in a bespoke approach. When users want to request data from the machine learning engine, they click a button. The engine then sifts through relevant company data and comes back with the requested data presented in a way that is understandable to the user.

This machine learning vision fits with IFS’ approach to AI, which Bob de Caux, Vice President of AI, said is all about driving value for the business. During a morning session, he cautioned against trying to use AI as the solution to all of a company’s problems, and instead focus on specific use cases where it can deliver results.

Services Transformation

As customers look to the future, they should be looking at servitization opportunities, said Marne Martin, CEO of Workwave and president of the service management global business unit at IFS. Currently, $100 billion is up for grabs in service opportunities. Services boost revenue while delivering margins several times higher than those of products.

Martin cited IDC research showing that 100 percent of companies with mature servitization initiatives have experienced revenue growth in the past 12 months, compared to less than 15 percent with low servitization maturity.

Urban Hofstrom, global alliance lead for IFS at Accenture, told attendees that services are undergoing their own transformation. How services will be delivered in the future, and what they will entail, will not be the same as in the past. For instance, field service organizations will rely more on predictive and remote services as opposed to sending technicians to a customer site every time maintenance is required.

The Courage to Self-Improve

From the “taste your own medicine” department, IFS executives, including  CFO Constance Minc, discussed the company’s experience in standardizing all its operations, including sales, human resources and finance, on the company’s IFS Applications 10 release. The call to standardize came from CEO Darren Roos, who realized the company’s global operations were very fragmented and running disparate systems – and different versions of those systems from one location to another.

He called on Sal Laher, the Chief Digital and Information Officer, to oversee an implementation of a unified approach.  Launched in January, the project was completed in a relatively short amount of time on July 29. Along the way, IFS brought all its operations under one set of standards and replaced manual functions such as invoicing and payroll, which are now completely paperless.

The project allowed the company to walk in its customers’ shoes, Laher said. There were some hiccups along the way that had to be addressed, and those are issues that now won’t affect customers when they embark on a similar journey with IFS Applications 10. Laher said the implementation delivered the following benefits:

  • $10 million in savings in six months
  • $148 million total savings over five years
  • Payback in less than one year

Challenger Awards

The day kicked off with an awards presentation to recognize customers that distinguished themselves using IFS solutions to gain a competitive advantage or create value through innovation.

Click here to read about the winners.

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Photography by Kurt Rebry

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