Connecting in the Cloud
Johan Axelson recognizes that business is a relay race. But, instead of runners sprinting around a track to exchange a baton; information about resources, production capacity, cash flow, purchase orders and delivery exchanges at lightning speed by database systems. If the baton drops in the process; the entire supply chain of production and delivery disrupts, and the impact reverberates around the world.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) management software, which was introduced to the manufacturing community in the 1980s to integrate business processes, controls the process. It utilizes databanks maintained by a database management system. In this space, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft are key players; however, Infor is a growing up-and-comer increasing its market share.
Now add the rise of the online retailing industry, referred to as eCommerce and eFulfillment, to that equation. This industry is expected to reach $780 billion in the United States, and the stakes could not be higher. Making the connection smooth allows customers to have an Amazon-like experience in B2B and B2C eCommerce transactions. This is the niche Axelson is creating with LeanSwift.
The Future is Cloudy
Today, ERPs are not located in banks of computers, but in the cloud. This enables organizations to access applications anywhere on the planet, enjoying immediate entrance into supply chain processes. LeanSwift is a cloud-ERP implementer. Strategically focusing on the Infor M3 solution, it not only offers integration with cloud-ERP but brings its expertise in incorporating Magento eCommerce solutions. Magento possesses nearly 30 percent of the eCommerce market share worldwide.
Launched five years ago, LeanSwift wanted to represent the primary components of M3 on a “windowpane,” adapt the M3 platform to the unique needs of the client and link Magento to the Infor’s ERP.
LeanSwift has a proprietary product that links these platforms seamlessly, in a time frame measured in days versus months.
“Most companies utilizing Infor M3 need to hire a programmer to custom build their integration with Magento,” Axelson explained. “LeanSwift has a proprietary product that links these platforms seamlessly, in a time frame measured in days versus months.”
Its products, which work as well in large organizations and small ones, can apply LeanSwift’s application with ease. This enables the company to take manufacturers, retailers and distributors from the United States, Asia/Pacific, Europe and Australia to the next level.
“It is a B2B solution with a user experience similar to B2C, giving customers a simple interface to do business with vendors,” Axelson said.
Diving into the Digital Deep End
The first thing you notice about Axelson is his characteristic enthusiasm. The second is his Swedish accent. The Cocoa Beach-based tech entrepreneur grew up in Sweden’s countryside, in a location so remote he had a five-mile drive to the nearest gas station. Though he attributes his entrepreneurial inclinations to his father, it was not until college that technology began to pique his interest.
“In Sweden, you choose the business or professional sector you want to prepare for when you begin your college experience,” Axelson said. “I was an exchange student in Ohio for a year. When I returned, I knew I wanted to go to college. I applied to study economics with a focus on the Russian and German economy but was not accepted. Instead, the college notified me that I had been accepted for a bachelor of science in a systems analysis program. I thought, ‘I did not apply for that.’ I had no idea what it was.”
He soon learned it concerned computer software, so Axelson headed off to the university.
“In Sweden, you are required to do an internship as a part of your educational experience,” Axelson said. “My internship was with a company that was later bought by Infor.”
Infor has acquired a whole suite of companies, and this was one of them.
“I was working as a programmer and became so caught up in the work that I joined the company developing software,” Axelson said. “Then I moved from R&D to consulting services, where I helped companies implement the products. It was a great learning process, though there were times when I thought about being a bus driver.”
From Scandinavia to the Sunshine State
As Axelson became more familiar with the Infor platform, he began to develop expertise integrating their platform with a company’s need. After living for a time in the United States, he and his wife, with their two young children, moved back to Sweden to be close to family and immerse the children in their native culture.
Axelson launched a business in 2001 to integrate companies with ERPs. After a while, he and his business partner wanted to go in different directions, so Axelson left. One morning he woke up, looked at my wife and said, ‘Do you want to move somewhere warmer?’ Today, Axelson looks out the upper story window of his office, which enjoys a panoramic view of Cocoa Beach — the Banana River Lagoon on one side and the ocean on the other.
“I knew some individuals in Sydney, Australia who suggested I start something in the United States,” Axelson said. “These individuals introduced me to someone who was consulting on integration. We started LeanSwift in August 2011.”
Today LeanSwift has 45 employees spread around the globe; developers and programmers on multiple continents, not to mention time zones, along with sales and product integrators.
“At first, we focused on custom integration for companies with Info M3, but realized it was difficult to learn and tedious to use,” Axelson said. “We created products that simplified and improved the user experience. Then we had requests for eCommerce solutions. We developed a product using a popular existing platform, simply and conveniently integrating it with their ERP, which was Magento. We realized there was a burgeoning market for it, especially in the B2B space. At the same time, we recognized product development is an expensive process; therefore, opened an office in India. Today, we have approximately 25 employees on the software development side of the company and about 20 employees involved in the customer interface.”
Axelson sees the most potential for his company in providing a mobile-based user interface.
“Millennials working at companies that use Infor M3 started asking, ‘Why can’t I do this on my mobile device?’ so orders can be entered, and changes can be made on production lines or in the field,” Axelson said. “This is in their digital DNA. Why train these employees in a complex system when it can be simplified into something intuitive? You can mobilize for order fulfillment and inventory control. We built a mobile app that allows for all of this and a myriad of other functions.”
Axelson likes the idea of leveraging what others have to create his own. As he put it, “Alibaba has no warehouses, Uber has no cars, Airbnb has no hotel rooms.”
It is a solution that moves LeanSwift from just a provider of integration services to the introducer of products making any company “Lean” and “Swift.”