Three Key Advances in ERP for 2021By CIOInsight.com Staff
A recent study by Market Research Engine predicts that the ERP market will reach nearly $50 billion by 2025, but with so many major corporations already implementing an ERP solution, how many of them are keeping up with ERP's constant evolution?
With the hybridization of workforce and supply management in industries ranging from retail to healthcare, ubiquity of and demand for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software has driven several key advances in how enterprise technology is managed.
How much and how often is your organization adjusting its ERP strategy to address changing operational needs and take advantage of newly available features? Are you optimizing and accounting for all of your employees' top workflows and how ERP advances could benefit them? Check out these three key advances happening in the ERP world, and depending on your organization's size, budget, and need, determine how these changes could affect your overall approach to ERP management.
Table of Contents:
- ERP strategy moves toward a multi-cloud mindset.
- ERP providers improve overall data quality and accessibility.
- Niche ERP solutions expand for niche industries.
- Your ERP should meet the needs of ALL of your data-using employees.
ERP strategy is adjusting to a "multi-cloud mindset," or an intentional interconnectivity approach in cloud ERP design. The idea behind this ERP advance is to improve compatibility with your business model's other clouds, such as Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
Past ERP strategy focused on moving from on-premise to cloud-based software or a hybrid approach. However, a 2020 Accenture survey of 122 CIOs indicates that only 1% of ERP-using organizations operate without a cloud and only 33% find themselves in the "lift and shift" transition toward a cloud ERP; the rest have already established their cloud presence and are looking for ways to expand it. A rational way to expand this cloud presence is by connecting with other high-use clouds in the enterprise network.
ERP traditionally works to meet your back-office, or non-client-facing, operational needs. But with a multi-cloud mindset, your back-office analytics can seamlessly inform your client-facing data and vice-versa, improving accuracy and decreasing data entry across multiple business functions.
Read More About Multi-Cloud Here: The Security Issues Keeping CISOs Up at Night
ERP infrastructure has historically worked to make data pretty but has missed the mark in making visual data as useful as it can be to employers and employees. New advances in ERP software focus more on the data solutions that your employees want and need to solve problems in each of their modules. Some examples of the improved ERP approach to data include:
Instead of focusing solely on past analytics, ERPs are using system data to develop predictive analytics that identify future pain points and needs. For example, a retailer's ERP may use predictive analytics to review historically high and low-volume sales periods, helping to determine when inventory should be resupplied or when digital advertising should ramp up in the future.
AI-informed visuals and charts
ERP software has included customizable visuals and charts based on supply chain, HR, billing, and other back-office data for several years. But with an increasing focus on AI and multi-cloud interaction, these visuals can now pull data from outside of the ERP. Through this advance in ERP infrastructure, front-office data, such as marketing and sales actions, can now more seamlessly inform back-office analytics and future planning.
AI/chatbot for self-service
Many ERPs are incorporating chatbots or digital assistants into their system, with the ability to answer your employees' queries using actual customer or order data mined from the system. The chatbot interface simplifies the user experience for your less technical employees, giving them easier access and better data-driven results when they want to assess the performance of a specific business function.
These new advances in ERP features go beyond the aesthetics of data; they are designed to make data more accessible and useful for every user, in every department, at every level of technological comfort in the ERP.
Depending on your industry or industry subset, it may be time for you to consider niche ERP solutions for your expanding needs. Many of the larger ERP providers, such as Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle, offer subsets of ERP software to meet specific industry requirements. Other smaller, more specialized organizations create ERP software specifically for your industry or build custom, add-on modules to meet your different use cases.
Especially during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, several industries uncovered new workflow problems that did not fit with clear solutions in their current ERP strategy. Scenarios in which niche ERP solutions come in handy include:
Healthcare facilities for seniors are now managing higher supply and demand for PPE inventory across residential facilities, home healthcare, and hospice settings.
Due to stay-at-home orders, many brick-and-mortar retailers need to quickly convert and secure their sales through new or more robust e-commerce models.
The growing food delivery industry needs to track metrics like delivery times, customer satisfaction, and popular order items to inform product planning (such as menu adjustments) and other production-side needs.
Whether your enterprise has only recently developed niche needs or always faced unresolved operational challenges, you don't have to force yourself into a one-size-fits-all ERP solution. With advances in niche knowledge and ERP providers, you can select or create an ERP that fits your pain points.
Whether you're providing the C-suite with specialized, organization-wide dashboards or managing the work of numerous remote contractors, nearly all of your employees will engage with modules within your ERP, so it's important to consider what ERP advances will make their user experience better. Only the most technologically "in the know" will be able to pinpoint the advances that you implement in your ERP, but all employees will likely notice when ERP advances simplify data and analytics sharing between software, UX/UI, and personalization that meets your industry's (and their role's) specific needs.
Evolving your ERP plan can be expensive and complex in the short run. In the long run, however, your organization can reap benefits in the saved time, improved data quality across platforms, and simplified employee experience that the changes generate.
Whether you're at the beginning of your ERP search or are strengthening your organization's existing ERP strategy, taking advantage of ERP's most recent advances can be a daunting and expensive task. To make your research and implementation easier, check out this ERP planning resource from TechnologyAdvice.com and guide your search toward a solution that works for your business.