Change is the order of the day, in the extremely fluid business environment of the times. The ERP landscape is no exception, with exponential changes shaking up the ecosystem. An understanding of the latest trends would allow stakeholders to remain at the top of their game. Here are the top ERP trends:
The Cloud is shaking up the Cloud Marketplace
Earlier, ERP dealt with specific back office processes, but today, ERP systems is more comprehensive, and covers all functions of the enterprise.
Many ERP solutions have evolved into Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. Having add-in point solutions for different enterprise functions, such as customer relationship management, human resource management, expense management and others, Cloud-based ERP has a more modular set-up. Several enterprises are even licensing software as they would for on-premises use, and running it in a public or private cloud.
The cloud itself is evolving. The latest is Mesh App and Service Architecture (MASA), a multi-channel solution architecture that leverages cloud computing, containers and micro-services, APIs and events. Running ERP solutions on such a stack offers flexibility and dynamism.
To stay relevant in such a highly competitive marketplace, traditional ERP providers are either acquiring specialized cloud products to integrate it with their ERP systems or developing their own cloud-based specialized solutions.
The Emergence of Multiple Touchpoints
Long gone are the days when business executives and managers had to log in through their desktops to access the ERP suites. Many ERP systems have already adapted to roll out highly intuitive mobile apps, giving executives on the move to access dashboards, charts, displays, and all other relevant information through their smartphones.
Larger companies spread across geographies are now increasingly relying on flexible, multi-tiered ERP systems to suit the unit’s needs.
The Dominance of Analytics
No ERP suite today is worth its byte unless it incorporates big data analytics. Big Data enables enterprises to analyze large swathes of data, to identify patterns, trends, and associations. Integration of analytic solutions with the ERP system allow enterprises to aggregate data from various internal and external sources and make real-time operational tweaks. Cloud-based platforms enable predictive analytics at a deep level. Advanced analytics were previously accessible only to large corporations, but progress in technology allows sophisticated analytics accessible to even small and medium enterprises. The domination of analytics will become even more profound as the Internet of Things gain center stage. Success however depends on innovation, by leveraging technology to disrupt markets and business models.
ERP vendors who can simplify complex IoT relationships and data will gain wider adoption. For instance, while the performance metrics uploaded into the ERP suite by connected devices automatically allow employees to make improvements in near real time, it still requires cutting edge apps to enable employees to actually do so.
ERP is becoming “Smarter”
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), with associated technologies such as deep learning, and natural-language processing are now being increasingly used to make devices and solutions “smart.” In tune with the trend, ERP systems are also turning “intelligent,” to manage data effectively. Existence of massive data sets to feed the algorithms fuel intelligent ERP.
A big application of artificial intelligence is to deliver contextual meaning to a situation and offer visibility into appropriate information at the appropriate time. Such insights enable end users to make better decisions. For instance, a “smart” ERP system provides sales representatives with customer history, past invoices, inventory transactions, payment terms, and all other details, through a mobile app, allowing the representative to serve the customer and close the deal in a much better way.
AI enabled ERP applications are also capable of automating intensely complex tasks normally requiring human intelligence, and some level of manual intervention. Consider the case of a sales representative who makes a request through the ERP app, to generate an invoice for recently purchased products. The system sends an invoice, and along with it, triggers a purchase order to replenish low stock levels.
Conversational system empowered ERP suite “hears” the user using multiple modalities, such as sight, sound, tactile, and more, to communicate the user’s desired outcome across sensors, appliances, IoT systems and the entire digital device mesh.
Security Gains Centre Stage
With cyber-attacks at an all-time high, tightening of regulations, and an increasingly connected corporate ecosystem, ERP vendors are offering a greater emphasis on security. There is an increasing thrust on automation, as an antidote to the highly manual inefficient internal controls, which are a major cause for security loopholes.
Multi-layered security and predictive deterrence, based on entity behaviour analytics is set to become the norm in the days ahead. The evolution of the intelligent digital mesh enables security to become fluid and adaptive. Security teams are increasingly working with application, solution and enterprise architects to integrate security early in the design of applications or IoT solutions.
The ERP market is expected to touch $41.69 billion by 2020. However, each dollar of this pie will be highly contested in an increasingly challenging business environment. As competition increases, ERP vendors are seeking to protect their turf by offering competitive pricing. However, the fight extends much deeper than pricing. Another key battleground is the user interface, with competing vendors striving to offer increasingly assistive and conversational user interfaces. Do send in your comments on this blog to firstname.lastname@example.org