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ERPs are set to change, and it’s about time too

Probably the biggest transformation we’ve seen in the ERP market over the last decade is the en masse adoption of cloud applications. And that’s been a welcome move. As a result, organisations have divested themselves of costly on-premises hardware, embraced largely predictable OPEX costs, enjoyed zero upgrade and maintenance costs, scaled on-demand, and worked from anywhere and everywhere.

And if you have any doubt about the rush to ‘cloud everything’, check out these amazing stats from technology review organisation TechJury.

But that aside, and given that cloud-based ERP applications are now in the majority, what else is changing – and why? What trends do we expect to become a reality over the next five years?

Hello user experience

When it comes to selecting a new ERP, what counts? In 2019, a Mint Jutras study announced new rankings for the selection criteria. And for the first time, the user experience (UX) ranked ahead of fit and function.

An intuitive, easy-to-use system not only dramatically improves one of the most significant issues with a new ERP - poor adoption. Training is easier and faster, so new users are up and running more quickly, improving the organisational ROI. Great UX allows employees to be more productive. What used to be a dauntingly complex task can now be completed in moments, driving efficiency and raising user confidence.

A personalised user interface (UI) contributes to an improved UX, with individual dashboards, customised menus, tailored screens, bookmarks, favourite reports at hand - and more. And when a user is only seeing what applies to their role, it makes the ERP less complex and overwhelming.

Goodbye to one-size-fits-all

ERP is no longer just for the big boys and girls.

Smaller businesses will have more affordable and right-sized choices of cloud ERPs which are handily preconfigured for specific industries – and they’ll also be able to ‘pick and mix’ from a range of features and modules.

Also, watch out for ERPs which provide a more personalised solution. Personalisation also prepares ERP solutions for the explosive growth and integration of IoT, AI, and other technologies. It will be an exciting space to watch as the ERP landscape will potentially be reshaped – for the better.

Go mobile, or go home

While it may feel like we’re banging an old drum, the pandemic highlighted some significant shortcomings in a range of ERPs. Especially those on-premises solutions that offer limited mobile access – or worst case scenario – no access at all.

Today’s businesses are rapidly adapting to the emergence of the hybrid and geographically dispersed workforce – so mobility and 24/7 accessibility are paramount. So it’s no surprise that ERP vendors widely acknowledge that anytime, anywhere access is now a non-negotiable feature – even if they must develop workarounds to make it happen. And those vendors that plan or already offer it to their customers will win the deal.

True mobile accessibility will include a more accurate and convenient data capture process, allowing employees to gather and enter information straight from the field.

If it doesn’t already, from 2022 onwards, you should expect (no – demand!) your ERP to provide streamlined on-the-go access to real-time data and the ability to perform back-end and front-end tasks from anywhere at a minimum.

Welcome real‑time data insights!

The value of real-time analytics is indisputable. So why is it so hard?

The days when a business was reliant on employees with specialist skills to translate data into meaningful insights (over days or even weeks) to enable timely and well-advised business decisions are gone. Or will be – soon!

Thankfully, leading ERPs are making real-time data insights a core, fully-integrated feature, not a separate technology project or application. So you will get all the benefits of seamless real-time performance insights and logistics management from the one system via in-built business intelligence.

With more tools, data visualisation, and integrated analytics capabilities at your fingertips, you will be able to make faster data-driven decisions and predict and prepare for future trends.

The rise of the iERP

Watch out for integrated artificial intelligence (AI) – that will be another gamechanger! So if you are looking to refresh your technology, note the term iERP (ERP with intelligence tech integration) because you’re going to see it mentioned with increasing frequency.

The business benefits of iERP include the ability to create workflows and reduce both errors and the time to load information. They can automate hours’ worth of routine processes and analyse your historical data and combine it with information from other business units. An iERP can even suggest more effective ways of delivering your internal processes.

With the adoption of iERP as mainstream, expect to experience a further improvement in productivity, efficiency, and bottom line.

Change is a win-win!

As the business world strives to divest itself from a reliance on spreadsheets, information siloes and ongoing security fears, it’s good to see that ERP vendors are mindful of their responsibility to improve their offerings to reflect what businesses need to thrive. After all, their success depends on yours.

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