As technology and the market changes, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has to change with it. It’s never easy to predict where an industry is headed, but by careful observation of ERP and the software industry, we have highlighted 5 ERP Trends 2017 that currently define the landscape of ERP systems.
1. The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is starting to reveal itself as the next megatrend in the world of IT. It has been described as ‘the third wave of the Internet’, and has repercussions for the whole world of technology, and the lives of anyone who uses or works with it. IoT connects devices such as everyday consumer objects and industrial equipment onto the network, allowing information gathering and management of these devices through software. This provides opportunities for increased efficiency and the introduction of new services, as well as a host of other benefits.
In this new world, ERP will be an indispensable tool for holding together this Internet of Things because of its capacity to connect the unstructured data from devices or ‘things’, such as sensors or beacons, to structured data held by businesses. As a result, manufacturers will be able to keep track of each and every product, advise the customer and provide additional services. ERP will be able to connect data, processes and people, paving the way for new business models and glean important insights from massive amounts of data.
One obstacle to IoT is that capturing data from the things usually requires a complex integration using specialist hardware, network connectivity, and high system integration expenditure to build the machine information into an enterprise business process. The data gleaned from this may still have to be entered manually into a spreadsheet or application. This time-consuming process is being circumvented with new software, such as the JD Edwards EnterpriseOne IoT Orchestrator. The IoT Orchestrator allows the user to devise processes called orchestrations that enable the transformation of raw data from separate devices into useful data that informs a business’s operations.
2. Hybrid ERP
The traditional on-premises ERP approach is dwindling. Companies are starting to understand that buying a monolithic physical system is difficult to adapt as your needs change. Often, they need upgraded IT infrastructure to run the on-premises software, and require a lot of time and money to source, install and run the necessary servers and communications networks. As a result, cloud-based ERP is quickly becoming the most popular solution, due to the minimal need for investment in infrastructure. The cloud has its problems too; web-based systems are often less mature and tested by virtue of them being much newer than tier-1 and on-premises ERP solutions. There may also be some business processes that are not supported, demanding the user to perform them outside the system.
The good news is that on-premises ERP and Cloud ERP is not an either-or decision. In fact, there are certain advantages to adopting a hybrid approach. Such a system delivers core on-premises functionality as well as variable cloud applications that cover your unique, existing business processes as well as the more dynamic operations. This limits potential hazards as the on-premises ERP can be relied upon to function, but at the same time, the Cloud adds precise functionality one project at a time. Capgemini’s ERPAdvantage is an example of a system that allows companies to integrate their on-premise ERP functions with cloud capabilities.
3. Social Media
By 2018, the number of global social media users is expected to hit 2.5 billion. This is a data goldmine that can be hugely beneficial to businesses that know how to utilise it effectively. As most ERP systems contain sales and business functions, many staff are already indirectly using social media in conjunction with these applications. It’s not surprising that salespeople frequently use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to review candidates and reach out to prospects. It makes sense that a system that integrates all aspects of a business ought to integrate social media add-ons in their systems as well.
In response to this trend, ERP software has started to provide social media functionality within its systems. Microsoft Dynamics offers a Social Engagement app that lets companies track multiple social media platforms, glean data and push engagement. The purchase of LinkedIn by Microsoft potentially allows for a seamless integration of LinkedIn and Dynamics, leading to new functions such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that can present relevant articles to the project which you’re working on within the ERP system. Different forms of social media, such as email, discussion forums and instant messaging, have long been a part of certain ERP systems. Salesforce contains a tool called Chatter, which facilitates users to talk with each other in a platform that combines instant messaging with the forum. It now seems inevitable that ERP would move towards integrating ERP with social media platforms such as Twitter and Pinterest.
4. Best of Breed
The market has for the past few years been dominated by single ERP systems that don’t allow much integration with other third party systems. However, there has been an increased interest in software associated with specific point solutions such as Workday and Salesforce. These cater to companies looking for specific functions, with no interest in a full-blown ERP system that takes care of everything. This is partly a result of the natural inclination for business to sway between single ERP software and best of breed systems. Companies often find that no ERP product will completely satisfy all of their requirements, and are enticed by the lower cost, lower risk, and faster benefits than a full ERP system, and so turn to best of breed solutions instead. This trend continues until businesses start to have difficulty with the lack of integration, standardisation and flexibility that using disparate solutions offers, and so the trend will move back once more to a single on-premise ERP system.
5. Small to Mid-Size Business
For most of the history of ERP, large companies have had a substantial technological advantage over small to mid-size competitors. But as Cloud-based ERP software and mobile technology becomes more cost effective, such as that offered by Intacct and Spectrum, and more vendors are producing systems tailored towards smaller enterprises, small and mid-sized business are threatening to catch up. Small business ERP applications are typically a software as a service model, with a more streamlined capacity to handle data, and containing simpler screens and dashboards. ERP and other business software are becoming more and more accessible to a point where the days of huge companies spending millions on new systems is fast becoming a thing of the past.
If you’re interested in finding the best ERP solution for your company, and be part of this exciting and dynamic field, then consult our team of experts at Software Advisory Service, and we can provide non-chargeable, impartial advice. Contact us today via the 'Compare providers' button on the right, and we can send you a shortlist of providers who can offer you the best ERP system for you, whatever your company’s size, goals or requirements.