25% of companies are looking to invest in a modern ERP system, according to a recent Forrester report. That may be due in large part to CEOs realizing that the best way to increase productivity, lower costs, and set their companies up for success in the digital age is to implement seamless, digital solutions.
Leading-edge technologies are giving business leaders more opportunities, helping them work smarter, and preparing them for the customers of tomorrow, but they are also creating new challenges. Specifically:
- Disparate systems. A mix of cutting-edge and legacy hardware make it difficult for departments and equipment to talk to each other.
- Bottlenecked growth. Legacy systems don’t allow companies to scale quickly and efficiently enough to meet customer needs and outdated hardware makes it difficult to add new software and applications on the fly to keep up with market demand.
- Increasing operational costs. Outdated systems mean operational efficiencies are difficult to realize, causing duplicate work and requiring additional resources that impact the bottom line.
- A lack of transparency. CEOs and business owners don’t have a clear picture of the data they need to make smart business decisions.
- An increase in cyber threats and breaches. Every 40 seconds, a business suffers a ransomware attack, according to Kapersky Lab. In fact, 42% of small and mid-sized business fell victim to a ransomware attack in the past 12 months, causing major concerns for companies, especially those responsible for sensitive customer information.
Fortunately, trends in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software are answering these challenges with end-to-end solutions that integrate business processes, collect data, and allow companies to scale quickly and securely.
What is an ERP and what can it do for my company and my bottom line?
Adopting a digital-first mindset requires having the right tools in place, and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a key software component in a modern company’s arsenal. An effective ERP:
- Breaks down the barriers between your company’s departments—sales, HR, manufacturing, distribution, etc. —and consolidates all information into one system.
- Provides business leaders with real-time data about sales, product output, finances and more to create a complete picture of their companies that can be used to make smarter, data-driven decisions.
- Allows companies to streamline processes, lower risk, increase productivity, and control budgets.
Let’s take a closer look at the top five trends impacting businesses and how they can address the challenges today’s CEOs are facing.
ERP Software Trend #1 – Better communication across systems, departments
Breaking down barriers between customers and employees, field and office: Mobile ERP and Social integration
The evolution of technology has left CEOs with a mix of cutting-edge and legacy hardware. These disparate systems make it difficult for departments and equipment to talk to each other.
What if you could streamline your company’s communication—between systems and the people who use them? Imagine a corporate data hub that connects your customers, employees, vendors, field workers, and even machines on a shop floor. This hub could increase efficiencies and productivity while lowering overhead and allowing employees to do their best work, whether they’re in the office or out in the field.
Mobile ERPs and the Mobility of Data
More than 42% of the global workforce (1.87 billion people) will be mobile by 2022. In fact, 81% of CEOs say mobile technologies are strategically important for their enterprises, according to Forbes. And while mobile functionality in ERPs isn’t new, it’s quickly evolving.
The latest ERP solutions offer mobile functionality and seamless integration that allows for
- Untethered access for remote workers
- Quicker data entry and retrieval
- Zero barrier between field and office
- Real-time decision making
- Instant access to real-time data
- Proactive vs. reactive solutions
According to SYSPRO CEO Brian Stein, these ERP systems focus on not just the idea of being mobile, but on “more mobility of data” that makes it easier to:
- Capture the most relevant data in real-time
- Use predictive analytics to determine next steps
- Make smarter data-driven business decisions.
Social Media Integration
Social integration is a natural extension of existing customer relationship management (CRM) ERP modules. More than ever, customers are relying on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to communicate:
- Brand preferences
- Product and shipping malfunctions
- Customer services issues
Internally, businesses are using chat systems to manage projects and exchange ideas with co-workers for quicker decision-making and greater productivity, improving performance by more than 40 percent.
Imagine being able to streamline internal project management and simplify workplace communication. The latest ERP dashboards do just that, documenting and reporting:
- Work-related messaging
- Social-media customer complaints
- Contact with potential employees
- Order information
- Shipment tracking
- Customer history
All of this data is accessible to every department from customer service to the C-suite, giving you the ability to provide a better customer experience.
ERP Software Trend #2 – Greater flexibility with hybrid ERP systems
The rise of hybrid ERP systems: The flexibility of cloud, the reliability of on-premise
Legacy systems don’t allow companies to scale quickly and efficiently enough to meet customer needs, but constantly evolving technology has CEOs fighting to stay ahead of the game. This bottlenecked growth makes it difficult to add new software and applications on the fly to keep up with market demands.
Twenty seven percent of buyers who don’t currently use an ERP system cite company growth as their reason for wanting to implement one.
Traditional on-premise ERP systems consisted of servers, hardware, and software modules that encompassed all of an enterprise’s business processes and reporting needs. And while they’ve built a solid reputation since they first hit the market, the CEOs who implemented these once cutting-edge systems are now forced to work with legacy ERPs that by today’s standards are Inflexible and unable to keep up. The challenge left limited options: make constant upgrades to the existing ERP or rip and replace their current ERP system every ten years.
A Better Solution for Modern CEOs
Fortunately, hybrid ERP systems offer a third solution that combines the time-tested reliability of on-premise modules with the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of cloud-based applications.
Thirty percent of service-centric companies will move the majority of their ERP applications to the cloud by 2018, according to Gartner. This shift means you have options, whether that’s moving completely to the cloud, adding a new, on-premise solutions, or some combination of the two.
The ability to add new software and applications to your existing processes shouldn’t make your job more difficult. The latest ERPs offer CEOs the flexibility to create efficient, seamless workflows across systems, services, and applications.
That said, choosing a flexible architecture model that drives efficiency, reduces hardware and labor costs, and supports speed, flexibility, and rapid outcomes takes time, and can be overwhelming. A software-agnostic ERP consultant can objectively evaluate your current situation and point you in the right direction.
ERP Software Trend #3 – Predictive Analytics for more intelligent data
Intelligent ERPs: How machine-learning and artificial intelligence are re-shaping the ERP landscape
The rise of big data has changed the way companies do business. There are 2.7 Zettabytes of data in the digital universe. To put this number into perspective, one zettabyte is equal to a billion terabytes (the entire printed collection of the US Library of Congress is 10 terabytes). With all of that data, the majority of CEOs and business owners still don’t have the transparency they require to make smart business decisions.
And while legacy ERP systems offer a comprehensive analytics dashboard with insight into every facet of a business, combing through all of that data, then analyzing and interpreting it, requires extensive resources.
Enter machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive analytics—innovations that have led to the rise of “intelligent ERP” systems, also known as i-ERPs, that monitor data 24/7/365 to:
- Determine inventory needs
- Detect problems in real time
- Anticipate business needs
- Be proactive rather than reactive
- Place orders to meet customer demand
- Make future predictions based on past data
- Troubleshoot issues before they become problems
- Provide real-time insights to give CEOs a complete picture of their business
- Help CEOs make smarter, data-driven decisions that increase bottom line
TREND 4 – Lower operational costs
ERP market expansion offers more choices, better prices
This growth in both markets is making ERP systems more widely available to companies of all shapes and sizes. Traditionally, only large corporations could justify the high up-front cost for customization and implementation of an ERP. Today, cloud and hybrid ERP models offer CEOs of SMBs an affordable, turn-key alternative to mega suites like Oracle and SAP.
Newer cloud programs have forced legacy ERP vendors to revisit their pricing models and deploy cloud variations of their own. That’s good news for CEOs who want more options and more affordable price points.
Still, ERPs aren’t inexpensive. Getting the highest lifetime value and ROI from your ERP system, means you’ll need to work with an unbiased, software-agnostic consultant to decide which on-premise, cloud-based or hybrid solution will work best for your company’s needs and budget.
TREND 5 – Enhanced security
ERP security in the age of cloud computing
As the ERP industry shifts toward more cloud-based and hybrid software options, cyber security is becoming a serious concern. In fact, almost 90 percent of cyber security professionals expect an increase in ERP attacks, according to Crowd Research Partners.
ERP security breaches costs companies an average of $5 million, according to a 2017 ERP Security Survey. Still, about 33% of organizations haven’t taken any initiative toward their ERP security. When it comes to monitoring that security, just 44 percent track security on a monthly basis, and 14 percent never analyze the security of their ERP systems.
Misconfigured or outdated systems are especially vulnerable. That’s why it’s imperative to have a team—either in-house or outsourced—dedicated to the ongoing maintenance and security of your ERP solution.
Your ERP contains some seriously sensitive data: client information, proprietary business and fiscal information, private internal communications, etc. A security breach would cause major repercussions for any company, and for those that deal in highly sensitive data, it would be catastrophic.
As more and more systems move to the cloud, hackers become savvier, and security continues to evolve, CEOs need to take a holistic approach to their ERPs security, ensuring that it seamlessly integrates with their company’s entire security posture. A sophisticated ERP system will not only reduce your risk, but will also increase your financial stability. Look for a solution that incorporates:
- Role-based security
- Permission-based protocols
- Mobile device integration
- Multi-factor authentication
- 24/7 monitoring
- Logging and tracking of all activity
An experienced ERP consultant can help you configure, customize, and implement the most secure ERP solution for your needs, then monitor for threats throughout the life of your software. While this won’t completely rule out all security threats, maximizing your ERP’s security will make you better prepared to protect your business from malicious attacks.
About ATB Technologies: St. Louis’ premier software-agnostic ERP consultants
ATB is a software-agnostic technology provider, with expertise in infrastructure, software development and ERP implementation. Our expertise in the changing ERP landscape puts us in a unique position to develop a custom solution that fits the needs of your company. We manage every step of the process from design and architecture to implementation and ongoing management.
With a focus on what your company needs out of its ERP software, we research the best solution—regardless of brand—and hold ourselves accountable for the end result.
That means we’ll work tirelessly to ensure selection and maintenance run seamlessly and, most importantly, provide the desired ROI.
We’ll serve as the buffer between your company and the software vendor, as well as between management and apprehensive employees, to safeguard against delays, conflict, and cost overruns.
Schedule a free consultation with our team of ERP experts and we’ll start looking into the right business process solution for you today.
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