Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a software category that’s evolving in step with changes in the way companies do business and the way people work. ERP is also changing along with shifts in corporate information technology. A modern ERP solution is lighter-weight, more agile and adaptable than its traditional precursors. Choosing a modern ERP solution requires finding a fit between your business, your way of doing business and the new ERP choices on the market today.
First, What is ERP, Anyway?
ERP software combines the core, critical functions of a business into one connected suite of software modules. A typical ERP solution comprises components for accounting, distribution management, production operations management and procurement (supply chain). ERP also usually has capabilities for customer resource management (CRM), sales management, human resources and business intelligence.
Recent Changes in Enterprise Resource Planning
ERP is far from new. In fact, the giants in the space trace their roots back to the late 1960s, when ERP sat on massive mainframe computers. And, while ERP no longer runs on “heavy iron,” as they used to call the mainframes, it might as well be. In general, ERP embodies massive, highly customized, on-premises instances running on costly infrastructure. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s just expensive and hard to manage and even harder to modify.
This is starting to change. Recent innovations in ERP include:
- Cloud-hosted ERP, delivered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). SaaS-based ERP runs in a browser, so there is no dedicated client on the user’s desktop.
- Standards-based Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) – Using standards like REST, modern APIs enable nearly universal integration with other software, including applications running in other business entities.
- Built-in data analytics and reporting dashboards.
How to Choose a Modern ERP Solution
Choosing a modern ERP solution means, first, having a strong grasp on how your business really runs. This may seem obvious. Why wouldn’t you know how your business runs? But, you’d be surprised if you look at how your people actually get their work done and how your processes flow in reality, versus on paper. With this requirement in mind, we suggest considering the following factors in selecting a modern ERP solution:
- Support for the Internet of Things (IoT) – We are in the midst of a revolution in the use of Internet-connected “smart devices” (aka “things”) in the business world. These may be sensors, cameras, actuators and so forth. There are billions of them, with billions more on the way—coming to your business operations either right now or in the near future. These devices will want to phone home, so to speak, and share all their data with your ERP system. IoT data will include information about equipment maintenance, shipping and more. The ERP system should be designed to handle IoT and the data from IoT devices. This is sometimes called “computing at the edge.”
- Flexible cloud hosting – The best, modern ERP providers have flexible cloud-based hosting and provisioning. It should be a frictionless experience to add a user or switch on a new component of the service. Ideally, licensing and fees are also offered on a flexible, customer-friendly basis.
- Mobility – Your people are working while on the move. They must absolutely be able to interact with a fully-featured version of the ERP solution while they’re out of the office.
- Practical Artificial Intelligence (AI) – AI is a vast, extremely complex topic. For the purposes of modern ERP, though, AI is about being able to recognize patterns from your data and convert those patterns into useful insights. This might mean correlating unrelated data streams like interest rates and order volumes to tell you something about your business that you would not know from looking at the raw data. The key to success with AI, however, is usability. The AI features in a good, modern ERP solution will be relatively easy to use. They should be accessible to people other than data scientists.
To learn about the latest modern ERP solution offerings available to you today, visit https://erpsoftware.ipro-inc.com/.