The next great wave of technology is upon us, a global tsunami, heralding change in every facet of our lives. For manufacturers, the decade ahead will be transformative. As ERP deploys the power of Big Data and Predictive Analytics, harnesses the flow of information from the Internet of Things, incorporates Machine Learning, and immerses workers in an increasingly intuitive UX, businesses will find themselves in possession of almost unimaginable agility, flexibility and control.
Beyond the incredible technological possibilities that 2017 may bring, there’s one trend, less discussed, that may come to be seen as a revolution on its own. It could be thought of as the democratisation of ERP. It depends on yet another important trend, one that’s been many years in the making. I mean, of course, the Cloud.
In the past, only a small percentage of companies in the lower revenue levels were prepared to fork out the money for integrated management of their business processes. It was, to be honest, hard to blame them. On-premise solutions require capital-intensive infrastructure, as well as trained, well-paid IT staff to manage and maintain that infrastructure. For many organisations, financial realities have kept ERP a distant dream, which has limited their ability to compete as equals on the global stage. All that, however, may have already started to change.
2017 will be remembered as the year when smaller-sized businesses began to invest in ERP. Signing up for Cloud services obviates the need for significant IT infrastructure – and lessens or eliminates the need for additional IT staff. Furthermore, modular ERP, such as SYSPRO, allows companies to choose and pay for just the licenses they require, until such time as they’re ready to scale. For smaller companies, the Cloud means being able to participate in the upcoming technology revolution, while leveraging all the traditional advantages of ERP.
With Cloud-based ERP, smaller companies, start-ups, and businesses in emerging economies, will be empowered to bin their legacy IT systems and leverage applications that access and populate a single database. With an SSOT (single source of truth), their decisions will be based on data that has been liberated from errors of duplication. With real-time, accurate views into areas such as inventory, order processing, production control and finance, smaller businesses will begin to integrate departmental activities on a more consistent basis, and achieve a wide range of financial, operational and productivity-based efficiencies. Some of the more forward-thinking companies might even take the opportunity to initiate LEAN methodologies.
Given the potential for flexibility and agility inherent in a compact organisation, it’s exciting to imagine what smaller businesses might achieve on the Cloud, especially once they realise the advantages that accrue from integrating ERP data with their partners along the supply chain. In addition, as disruptive technologies emerge, they will be simpler and less expensive to deploy, and thus achieve greater uptake in less time, further accelerating the pace of change.
2017 will be a year to remember, and not just for the earth-shaking technologies that are poised to redefine the relationships between people, data and business. For those who mix their profit-motive with a measure of social concern, the democratisation of ERP, and the effect that may have on the evolution of business, is just as exciting.