The rise of the cloud and a new emphasis on software means a greater flexibility in ERP solutions that can drive a business in new ways.
1. Cloud growth leads to renewed focus on agility in ERP
The option of storing part or all of their enterprise resource planning software and data in the cloud can lead to lower up-front costs for businesses, as they no longer need to make capital investments in server acquisition and system maintenance.
Instead of hardware, the emphasis will be on implementing cloud-based systems that best deliver a competitive advantage for the company. Configuration of powerful, comprehensive ERP solutions by a consultant rather than a developer will become more attractive.
2. ERP goes mobile
The mobile revolution has the potential to put ERP control in the hands of managers wherever they are. Managers, especially in manufacturing and wholesale businesses, are able to approve workflows, manage customers and inventory, and monitor the performance of their business in real-time.
The key to harnessing this powerful decision-enabling tool is a properly integrated ERP mobility system with real-time updates across mobile, tablet and computers, without the need for time-consuming data transfers.
Mobile ERP will become even more important as businesses and resources become more dispersed. Ideally, an ERP system should not only update managers with anytime, anywhere information, but also incorporate automation of this information for salespeople, technicians and analysts in the field.
3. Customers become a greater part of the solution
The growth of self-service options and customer portals within ERP solutions means many tasks that would have previously been left to an inbound customer service team will instead be available to customers 24/7 via a self-service portal.
Customers will be able to generate invoices, reports, browse their purchasing or service history, and plan future orders or services at their leisure. As well as delivering efficiencies and automating processes for a business, this will also lead to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and engagement, since customers will have greater control over their own information.
We’ll also see integration from companies’ customer portals to those of suppliers, business customers and manufacturers, allowing seamless customer views of supplier catalogue data during the purchase process.
4. Big data and actionable analytics
Harnessing big data to make decisions will become increasingly prevalent. Companies who’ve had ERP systems in place for a number of years already have a great amount of data at their disposal. The evolution of mobile purchasing and the sheer amount of customer and purchasing data will mean the available insights are clearer and more comprehensive than ever.
The challenge will lie in making sure the data is available to those who need it most, and stored and arranged in such as way that it lets managers see the clearest possible picture of their business.
Automating as much as possible will allow reliance on ERP recommendations for reordering and warehouse distribution, rather than manual effort and potential for human error. Ideally, reordering should be optimised through the right analysis capabilities to forecast demand.
When speaking to businesses about implementing a new ERP software solution, we find that many currently spend about 80% of their time preparing data, and only 20% actually analysing the enterprise intelligence it delivers.
Businesses will increasingly invert that ratio in the coming years, as the importance of analytic insights increases to allow management by exception.
5. Investment in knowledge replaces investment in hardware
As ERP and other software solutions are increasingly deployed via the cloud, many organisations will realise the competitive advantage they can leverage by ensuring staff have an in-depth knowledge of the solution they’re working with. This goes well beyond the IT department.
Funds that would have previously been invested in infrastructure and hardware maintenance can be redirected to allow more operational expenditure on better equipping resources through training and fine-tuning business processes. This in turn helps to maximise the investment in the ERP solution.