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Infor renews channel push

New Infor Partner Network encourages, but does not require, partner exclusivity.

Despite a checkered past, Infor is trying to establish a stronger presence in the IT channel with its new Infor Partner Network (IPN).

IPN kicks off with some 700 channel partners worldwide and breaks them down into Gold, Silver and Associate tiers.

The Atlanta-based business application software company jettisoned its unpopular mandate for partner exclusivity but will reward Gold partners that do sell only Infor products with the highest margin levels. Cash bonuses will be based on an undisclosed percentage of the partner’s total revenue generation.

“Since we aggressively recruit partners all over the world, we know that requiring exclusivity would make it much harder to bring partners in,” Jeff Abbott, Infor VP of global alliances and channels, said. “But we obviously reward partners who stay exclusive to Infor.”

As partners move up the tiers, they’ll get higher margin and bonus commissions for meeting quarterly sales targets. Partners that sell only Infor software -- and not competing ERP products -- will get the highest level of margin.

IPN also allocates market development funds (MDF) into individual partner accounts based on a percentage of their yearly sales figures.

“With the marketing funds that are now allocated to us, we can tie those into sales and find new opportunities,” said Sam DeBone, vice president of sales and marketing at Decision Resources Inc., which offers Infor ERP SyteLine.

Among the tools and resources now available to Infor partners are a “getting started” portal, training from third-party consultants to help improve sales techniques and access to Infor’s Center of Excellence at an offshore site in India for an hourly rate.

IPN portal big deal to partners
Abbott said that Infor’s old channel portal was not very functional and thus barely used, but he thinks Infor got it right this time. “We’ve completely revamped our portal and written it from a partner’s perspective,” he said.

Wayne Frizzell, president of Group Laurier, which focuses on offering services for the Infor ERP SX.enterprise suite, thinks the new portal is a major upgrade. “The portal before was difficult to navigate,” Frizzell said. “I haven’t used the new one, but I’ve heard positive reviews from those who have used it.”

Frizzell maintained that Infor’s channel effort for years needed a central focus and likes what he sees so far from the IPN.

“[Infor] engaged us and asked what the channel needed from the program,” Frizzell said. He specifically cited improvement in lead generation and product release management.

“Lead generation wasn’t very strong a few years ago. [Infor] had been using a third party for it but now they’re planning for it across the organization,” Frizzell said. “And they’re starting to include partners during product release management.”

Infor may be the largest ERP provider that the general public has never heard of. The company has built grown over the years with dozens of acquisitions of small, specialized ERP players. It gained a high-profile veteran exec when Charles Phillips, former president of Oracle Corp., joined as CEO last year. Then, in April, Infor offered to buy Lawson Software for $2 billion. Many in the industry expect that deal to be done by the third quarter, but some Lawson shareholders aren’t happy about the selling price of $11.25 per share.

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