Founded in 1983, IFS™ is a globally recognized leader in developing and delivering enterprise software for enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM) and enterprise service management (ESM). It currently has over 2,700 employees and supports more than 2,400 customers worldwide.
With their largest product, IFS Applications™ currently having over a million users, IFS’s software is known for being user friendly, modular in its design and flexible enough to support customers in their way of working according to their established processes. Its applications enable companies to respond quickly to market changes and use resources in a more agile way to achieve better business performance and competitive advantages. Their tools are easy to implement, run, and upgrade, providing powerful service management and mobile functionality.
IFS operates in six global areas: Europe North; Europe West; Europe Central; Europe East; Americas; and Africa, Asia, and Pacific. Thabo Ndlela, director at IFS Africa, explains how IFS is targeting the continent as a key growth market.
“I have been with IFS Africa now for 2 years. As a company we have been operating in South Africa for the past 12 years, where our offering is strong in asset management, but there are also a lot more investments taking place in the rest of Africa, creating a market for many of our software products. In the past year we have been tailor-making the company for the South African market in a bid to drive more African business in general.”
As well as implementing simple work orders and maintenance inventories, IFS has a full suite of functionality designed to support cradle-to-grave asset lifecycle management (ALM) for asset intensive-companies, such as those in oil and gas and also mining, utilities, metal foundries and paper and pulp companies.
Ndlela says, “Outside of South Africa we are primarily targeting Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana and to a lesser extent we have supplemented some projects in Gambia and Uganda. The investment cycle is attractive in these countries and obviously now in Nigeria, the space, which has slow benefits due to the price of oil. The majority of our oil sector clients are in South Africa but we now have some in Nigeria in the contracting phase.”
EAM needs to be more than a glorified computerized maintenance management system. It needs to accommodate ALM and that is what IFS delivers. IFS got its start as an EAM vendor, so all of the functionality that comprises IFS Applications – including document management, risk management, finance, inventory, contract management and more – can be part of your EAM environment.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a key concept within the IFS group, particularly in Canada & North America, and one which is beginning to take hold in Africa too. In short, it is the networking of computerized devices, vehicles and buildings etc., which enables them to collect and exchange data.
“At the IFS world conference we had in Barcelona, clients gave testimonials about the implementation of IoT.” Ndlela explains.
“One of which was an interface between a train operator and our software, focused on the maintenance of the train. For example, where a door doesn’t close properly, then the train will actually auto-generate a service request within our software for someone to attend and fix the problem.”
Ndlela continues, “The long term opportunities for the IoT approach in South Africa are beginning to be seen in the high demand for smart metering. In Africa I don’t think it will be big in the consumer space for some time, but in the enterprise space there is a lot more capacity for IoT. In our business there are clients that have demands for systems to be monitored electronically in terms of resource capacity. For example, if a manufacturing company needs flour for making bread you can set an order notification at different levels of that tank so that you don’t disrupt the production process.”
IFS’s ERP solution is ideal for demanding discrete and process manufacturing environments including those with heavy traceability requirements like food and beverage and aerospace and defence as well as project-centric settings like engineer-to-order manufacturing and engineer, procure, construct contracting.
All three of IFS’s applications around asset management, resource management and service management are a big focus in emerging markets where companies require a lot of development. The highly configured design of the applications enables quick development, which is what these businesses want – the ability to see results quickly and to build in components in a cost effective way.
In terms of future projects, Ndlela says, “We have just been awarded the app for AAB (Can I check this acronym?), which will be a big venture for 2016 and in Kenya and Nigeria we have some energy generator projects that will keep us occupied. Development of the IoT process will also play a key role going forward as there are a lot of business processes, engineering and application configurations to develop.”