A Backward Step

I was disappointed but not surprised to hear that Infor will be withdrawing support for the Vision product range operating over 3rd party applications or “competing products”.

I’ve had a long association with the Vision Suite and it’s a widely held view that Vision was a significant factor in System Unions success (some might say survival) during the late 90’s. The decision to release a version of Vision which supported Financial Systems other than SunSystems was taken before Vision was acquired by Systems Union. However once they had absorbed Lasata (Visions previous owners) they supported the strategy and continued the model.

Extending the range of Financial Systems and Business Solutions supported by Vision was an ambitious strategy and whilst the execution was sometimes patchy (confusing terminology, some poor technology and barmy pricing), the result was a community of Vision users working with systems such as Great Plains, Navision, expense@work, time@work and SAP.

The approach could have given Systems Union/Infor a valuable position at the table of organisations that they would normally never come into contact with. Any product which provides this opportunity for a software house should be nurtured carefully (even if it is a loss leader) and to cut off potential influence and economic interaction (no matter how small) with users of “competing systems” shows a worrying and slightly blinkered mentality.

It is also ironic that as the world is moving towards open standards of integration and connectivity, Infor should choose to take Vision back to its roots as a proprietary tool.

What I’m still not clear on is which of these scenarios is driving Infor’s decision:

1. Protectionism – “Vision is what makes us unique, we can’t let other systems use it or we won’t be able to sell SunSystems”.
2. Economic – “We don’t have the pockets to make Vision a global product so lets stop trying”.
3. Product Road Map – “We need to retire Vision so let’s start at the margins”.

Lets hope it’s the 3rd