Charles Phillips: The CEO taking on his old company

Anyone with an ounce of knowledge of the business enterprise software industry will know all about Charles Phillips. After all, this is the guy who was co-president of Oracle for seven years, whilst being the Managing Director at Morgan Stanley between 1994 and 2003. He knows the industry inside-out – and that’s probably why he’s having so much success with his latest project, Infor.

Charles Phillips’ affairs as CEO of Infor have led to success which few thought was possible. He has officially taken on the “big boys” of his industry – the likes of Oracle, who he spent such a successful period of time with, and SAP. Both of these companies are the market leaders, but Infor are right behind them. They’re currently the third biggest company in the marketplace and if industry experts are to be believed, they may even better that in the near future.

But what exactly has made Phillips such a success at Infor?

Phillips has made acquisitions one his top priorities

Phillips was announced as CEO of the company back in 2010 and suffice to say, his impact was immediate. His emphasis on acquisitions was clear from the outset and after just four months in the role, the company acquired Lawson Software.

This was never going to be the last development though and since then, he’s averaged at least two acquisitions for Infor per year.

The message from these acquisitions was simple. Phillips wanted Infor to be an expert in all of the industries they were selling to. They couldn’t do this alone – the only way possible was to acquire.

His emphasis on design goes against the industry as a whole

Perhaps the most impressive element about Phillips’ management of Infor has been his approach to design.

Particularly as he has already enjoyed so much success with other companies in this industry, many would assume that he would simply continue the “industry standard” design principles.

Suffice to say, this hasn’t been the case. Instead, he’s recruited designers from marketing backgrounds – those that have to create compelling user interfaces.

It means that from the outset, Infor is targeted for the user. It looks so much different to its competitors – and this is what Phillips is hoping will allow it to overtake them.

He’s not afraid to invest in change

On a similar note, there are no reservations in investing in other areas which follow a “traditional” path.

Having been part of Oracle for so long, the immediate assumption may have been that Phillips would simply follow their lead and do what has worked so well for them. Instead, he has gone for a much more unique approach with Infor – and you only have to look at their physical infrastructure for a prime example.

Rather than invest time and millions into a bespoke platform, Infor relies on Amazon Web Services. His reasoning is simple – Amazon are the biggest cloud service in the world, why should he bother trying to build anything better than the experts?

It’s another example of unique, but ultimately successful management. Time will tell if it will help him overtake his former team at Oracle.

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