Infor describes ION as “a technology which builds on a flexible and powerful integration framework to create an end-to-end solution for improving your entire business process”. Other descriptions include “ION is a lightweight middleware layer built into the software that helps to ease any integration challenges customers would otherwise face”.
Here is a high level summary of the ION platform along with a feel for how it could be implemented alongside other Infor and non-Infor solutions to deliver benefits in terms of improved integration and streamlined processes.
Infor ION Suite
To summarise, the Infor ION platform comprises a number of distinct components, which can be deployed as part of an ION implementation. Not all components need to be implemented at the same time. The table below gives a brief explanation of each.
On reviewing the functionality available within ION it is very likely that some of the software applications currently in use across your organisation already possess some/all elements of this functionality.
For example, existing software applications may already have built in workflow/authorisation, exception alerting and notification capabilities. Interface capabilities may already exist between legacy expense management and finance systems.
So what benefits can be gained by implementing Infor ION?
Improved and Resilient Integration
Firstly, it is important to note that Infor ION has not been designed to replace functionality being used within existing software applications. The main purpose of ION is to provide:
- A “loosely coupled” integration platform using XML documents that will improve the way in which Infor and non-Infor applications integrate with each other – the term “loosely coupled” describes an approach used when designing interfaces across different software applications, which reduces interdependencies and minimises risk when changes to one application could result in the need to make unanticipated changes to other applications.
- Additional functionality that can be quickly and easily configured to improve efficiency and streamline processes across the whole. organisation (not just one specific functional area, such as finance).
- A platform that enables collaboration and sharing of information relating to any of the applications being used across the organisation.
The diagram below shows how ION could be used to integrate a number of different software applications in use across an organisation. In this example, a number of different software applications need to exchange data with each other. For example:
- The purchase to pay system needs to automatically exchange supplier information with the finance system as and when new records are created and existing records are changed.
- The purchase to pay system needs to pass accrual, commitment and invoice information to the finance system.
- The finance system needs to pass payment information back to the purchase to pay and expense system as and when supplier invoices/staff expenses are paid.
Collaboration and Social Networking Capability
In addition to the exchange of data between the different applications, ION has a business oriented social network capability which enables anyone in the organisation to connect not only with other people but with applications, machines and data.
As with Facebook, you are friends with people – you share articles which can then be posted to a newsfeed. Like Twitter you can follow people, but with ION you can follow, people, applications, machines and data.
An example of this could be an account manager choosing to follow a specific customer record. By doing this, every time an activity is recorded against that customer record (from whatever system) it would be seen in his/her activity feed.
So, what is Infor ION? It is a flexible, resilient integration platform that enables Infor/non-Infor applications to exchange data in a secure environment, whilst at the same time providing users with a business orientated social media platform that will speed up decision making processes across the organisation.