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IFS Labs: Innovative Enterprise Business Software Solutions

Spearheading innovation

One of the ways we drive innovation and new technology incubation is through IFS Labs. Here we apply the latest thinking around consumer technologies, digital trends and innovative solutions across a range of industries to our products and software solutions. The mission for IFS Labs is to help us make better strategic product decisions and to shorten the time from vision to realized solutions. Within IFS Labs we can try new ideas and innovations, including some of a more experimental nature, including everything from the blockchain to innovating artificial intelligence. Much of what IFS Labs does eventually results in new products and capabilities.

To IFS, having this capability to think freely, build on inspiration from wider trends and innovations, and work in a more exploratory way without fixed requirements or deadlines is a vital part of the innovation process. For our customers, it is part of ensuring we provide great enterprise software solutions today, and into the future.

Solutions design

IFS Labs Blog

The IFS Labs blog is where we share our latest thinking and let you know about the technologies we’re focusing on. The blog is about software technology and innovation from a business perspective, which is the core of what we do within IFS Labs. It also gives you the views and opinions on current events, latest innovation trends, news and technology from the viewpoint of our enterprise software development team.

Visit our blog to keep up to date with our latest thinking

Augmented Reality: how to change the way we maintain our assets

Mixed reality will allow holograms to look, sound and behave like real objects that can interact with the environment around them and with each other. We have built a prototype application that runs on Microsoft to help customers get information from the back-end of our software and into the eyes of the service worker at any time.

The backend business applications already have lots of relevant information for the worker. It provides insight in the asset history, real-time Internet of Things data, a list of work orders and traditional work instructions (pdf, movies), already present in the business applications today.

Read more about IFS Labs

IFS Labs Success Stories

IFS Labs operates under a license to fail. Not all innovative solutions will make it into the product. Some may not even make it through the first months. But as Edward Land once said: “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.”

Many IFS Labs projects have led to new product capabilities. These include:

  • IFS Aurena Bot, announced at the IFS World Conference 2018. In 2015, IFS Labs showcased the first version of the chat bot's artificial intelligence capabilities inside IFS Applications. Many iterations and technology try-outs later, the IFS Aurena Bot is a fact. Surfacing both inside IFS Aurena and in third-party channels like Skype, it provides the user with a new conversational user interface to improve user experience.
  • IFS IoT Business Connector, announced at the IFS World Conference 2016. This Internet Of Things application started out as a proof-of-concept project with the urban transport operator, Sporveien, in Oslo, Norway, whose trains are equipped with sensors capturing large amounts of data about their service needs, enabling flexible, predictive maintenance, lower costs and ultimately more trains running.
  • IFS Business Apps is a series of smartphone apps for Android, iOS and the Microsoft Windows Phone. Each app focuses on specific tasks such as expense and purchase approvals, customer relationship management and time reporting.

Digital Twins

Digital Twins are virtual representations of physical assets. Most people use the Digital Twin in the context of IoT. At IFS Labs we are working to determine the impact of Digital Twins on business applications and the role they should play in this landscape. We see great potential in Digital Twin applications around enabling our customers to connect their assets with IFS products to have:

  • Easy access to relevant data in the context of the twin. In the context of an asset this can certainly contain live data from IoT sensors, but also the data typically found in Enterprise Asset Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, and Service applications - maintenance data, health and safety records, risk and compliance data, procurement data.
  • The possibility to visualize the status of the twin and use the visualization to navigate structures and data. The visualization can be an exploded drawing, a 2D drawing, a 3D model, or even a 4D model, where the fourth dimension is time.
  • The ability to handle the past, present, and future - to view the status, look back and see how things were some time ago, and simulate or extrapolate what might happen moving forward.

Augmented Reality & Wearable Technology

What’s the business application of wearable technology? Very simple - you can interact with your IFS business software whenever and wherever you are. There is no need to use your laptop, tablet or even your phone. Combine it with augmented reality and you can have the information anywhere, anytime, interacting with the real world.

IFS Labs is continuously monitoring new developments in the wearable market. Most actively we’re working on solutions for smart glasses or other head mounted devices that will let users superimpose business data retrieved from IFS products in the real world using augmented reality.

Imagine field service technicians using smart glasses to view pertinent onsite assignment data as a virtual overlay. Collaborating with leading tech providers like Microsoft and Zebra, IFS Labs is exploring how to maximize the business application of augmented and mixed reality.

Intelligent Autonomous Assistants

Recently IFS has announced the IFS Aurena Bot, a simple yet effective chat bot that lets you interact with IFS Applications to perform simple but effective dialogues such as “Call in sick” or “Update a CRM activity.”

But what’s next? Why do people perceive chat bots, or other forms of conversational user interfacing as “intelligent”? At the same time something like general intelligence doesn’t exist yet. At IFS Labs we believe that by providing the bot with enough capability, including machine learning algorithms, data and context, a chat bot can be perceived as intelligent and provide the user with an increased user experience and value.

Therefore, IFS Labs continues to investigate what’s next for conversational user experience.

Artificial Intelligence

Much has been written about artificial intelligence (AI). It is and has been part of regular software development within IFS for many years. For example, IFS Planning and Scheduling Optimization has been using AI capabilities like neural networks for the past 12 years to create the optimal schedule for field workers.

AI could provide a lot of possibilities for business software that we haven’t thought about. IFS Labs is researching and prototyping many different use cases to identify opportunities to improve or add features to our products.

Blockchain

Blockchain is one of the most talked-about and intriguing technologies at the moment. Although first described in 1991, it got its first real implementation and public attention in 2009 as the technology behind Bitcoin. Blockchain, similar to the rise of the internet, has the potential to disrupt business.

Blockchain is very complex, but the idea is simple. Blockchain is a huge, global distributed ledger or database running on millions of devices that’s open to anyone. On the Blockchain, not only information, but anything of value can be stored. Its purpose is to ensure a 100% secure, verifiable and traceable database protocol.

Already, many people are exploring business cases beyond Bitcoin. Many of those, though not all, are related to financials. Whether it’s reducing costs by keeping property ownership and records on Blockchain or using it to track high-value goods such as diamonds, all cases are about the secure, verifiable and traceable storage of information.

Although Blockchain is still far away from hitting the mainstream, if ever, IFS Labs is already researching the impact Blockchain might have on existing business applications. Looking beyond the “traditional” financial implementations, we are investigating the most important benefits and challenges associated with the implementation of Blockchain technology.

IFS Labs Success Stories

IFS Labs operates under a license to fail. Not all innovative solutions will make it into the product. Some may not even make it through the first months. But as Edward Land once said: “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.”

Many IFS Labs projects have led to new product capabilities. These include:

  • IFS Aurena Bot, announced at the IFS World Conference 2018. In 2015, IFS Labs showcased the first version of the chat bot's artificial intelligence capabilities inside IFS Applications. Many iterations and technology try-outs later, the IFS Aurena Bot is a fact. Surfacing both inside IFS Aurena and in third-party channels like Skype, it provides the user with a new conversational user interface to improve user experience.
  • IFS IoT Business Connector, announced at the IFS World Conference 2016. This Internet Of Things application started out as a proof-of-concept project with the urban transport operator, Sporveien, in Oslo, Norway, whose trains are equipped with sensors capturing large amounts of data about their service needs, enabling flexible, predictive maintenance, lower costs and ultimately more trains running.
  • IFS Business Apps is a series of smartphone apps for Android, iOS and the Microsoft Windows Phone. Each app focuses on specific tasks such as expense and purchase approvals, customer relationship management and time reporting.

Digital Twins

Digital Twins are virtual representations of physical assets. Most people use the Digital Twin in the context of IoT. At IFS Labs we are working to determine the impact of Digital Twins on business applications and the role they should play in this landscape. We see great potential in Digital Twin applications around enabling our customers to connect their assets with IFS products to have:

  • Easy access to relevant data in the context of the twin. In the context of an asset this can certainly contain live data from IoT sensors, but also the data typically found in Enterprise Asset Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, and Service applications - maintenance data, health and safety records, risk and compliance data, procurement data.
  • The possibility to visualize the status of the twin and use the visualization to navigate structures and data. The visualization can be an exploded drawing, a 2D drawing, a 3D model, or even a 4D model, where the fourth dimension is time.
  • The ability to handle the past, present, and future - to view the status, look back and see how things were some time ago, and simulate or extrapolate what might happen moving forward.

Augmented Reality & Wearable Technology

What’s the business application of wearable technology? Very simple - you can interact with your IFS business software whenever and wherever you are. There is no need to use your laptop, tablet or even your phone. Combine it with augmented reality and you can have the information anywhere, anytime, interacting with the real world.

IFS Labs is continuously monitoring new developments in the wearable market. Most actively we’re working on solutions for smart glasses or other head mounted devices that will let users superimpose business data retrieved from IFS products in the real world using augmented reality.

Imagine field service technicians using smart glasses to view pertinent onsite assignment data as a virtual overlay. Collaborating with leading tech providers like Microsoft and Zebra, IFS Labs is exploring how to maximize the business application of augmented and mixed reality.

Intelligent Autonomous Assistants

Recently IFS has announced the IFS Aurena Bot, a simple yet effective chat bot that lets you interact with IFS Applications to perform simple but effective dialogues such as “Call in sick” or “Update a CRM activity.”

But what’s next? Why do people perceive chat bots, or other forms of conversational user interfacing as “intelligent”? At the same time something like general intelligence doesn’t exist yet. At IFS Labs we believe that by providing the bot with enough capability, including machine learning algorithms, data and context, a chat bot can be perceived as intelligent and provide the user with an increased user experience and value.

Therefore, IFS Labs continues to investigate what’s next for conversational user experience.

Artificial Intelligence

Much has been written about artificial intelligence (AI). It is and has been part of regular software development within IFS for many years. For example, IFS Planning and Scheduling Optimization has been using AI capabilities like neural networks for the past 12 years to create the optimal schedule for field workers.

AI could provide a lot of possibilities for business software that we haven’t thought about. IFS Labs is researching and prototyping many different use cases to identify opportunities to improve or add features to our products.

Blockchain

Blockchain is one of the most talked-about and intriguing technologies at the moment. Although first described in 1991, it got its first real implementation and public attention in 2009 as the technology behind Bitcoin. Blockchain, similar to the rise of the internet, has the potential to disrupt business.

Blockchain is very complex, but the idea is simple. Blockchain is a huge, global distributed ledger or database running on millions of devices that’s open to anyone. On the Blockchain, not only information, but anything of value can be stored. Its purpose is to ensure a 100% secure, verifiable and traceable database protocol.

Already, many people are exploring business cases beyond Bitcoin. Many of those, though not all, are related to financials. Whether it’s reducing costs by keeping property ownership and records on Blockchain or using it to track high-value goods such as diamonds, all cases are about the secure, verifiable and traceable storage of information.

Although Blockchain is still far away from hitting the mainstream, if ever, IFS Labs is already researching the impact Blockchain might have on existing business applications. Looking beyond the “traditional” financial implementations, we are investigating the most important benefits and challenges associated with the implementation of Blockchain technology.