Mobile. The cloud. Big data. The Internet of Things. Social media.
Those are just a handful of the technology trends that may affect how businesses implement enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions in 2015 and beyond. Whether or not those trends will have a long-lasting impact on ERP systems remains to be seen.
Employees and executives use smartphones and tablets just as much as desktop computers and laptops, and they want immediate access to information regardless of their location. According to a 2014 forecast by the global IT firm Cisco, mobile data traffic will jump by 11-fold from 2013 to 2018.
With mobile ERP, managers are able to monitor performance, deal with customers, oversee inventory and approve work flows, all in real-time. Meanwhile, the sales and service teams can cut the amount of time spent on processes. As a result, customers and suppliers may benefit from the availability of immediate data regarding equipment manufacturing, production scheduling, procurement, sales and quality assurance.
For mobile ERP solutions to be effective, a properly integrated system with immediate updates across smartphones, tablets and computers is required. A mobile ERP system should also provide automatic updates to salespeople, technicians and analysts, enabling instant data input.
Big Data/The Internet of Things
Real-time input brings ever larger volumes of data to analyze, especially as we enter the era of the so-called Internet of Things, where smart devices are constantly capturing and transmitting information. Utilizing this “big data” to make decisions is becoming more widespread as companies learn how to translate information into clear and comprehensive insights.
Big data analytics tools within an ERP system can make better use of available data, while analyzing new sources of data from mobile and cloud computing additions. Such measures have the potential to mitigate losses and maximize sales.
As companies generate and collect burgeoning amounts of data, many are adopting cloud computing options for the storage and sharing of digital information. A 2013 report by the research firm Gartner estimates that the global market for cloud services could reach nearly $250 billion by 2017.
Businesses are expected to increasingly utilize cloud-based ERP solutions for economic and technical benefits. Indeed, a Gartner survey published in 2014 reported that 47% of organizations planned to transition the bulk of their main ERP systems to the cloud in the next five years.
Social media is playing an ever-growing role in numerous aspects of daily life, from education to entertainment and healthcare to commerce. Among U.S. adults who spend time online, about 74% use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, the Pew Research Internet Project reported in 2014.
Interactions between businesses and customers on those networks can be a rich source of instantaneous, but often-unstructured data. ERP vendors are incorporating social media capabilities into their enterprise resource planning applications to allow companies to capture that data. That may allow businesses to raise the level of collaboration and personalization in their customer relationship efforts.
The quickening pace of technological advancement is bringing wholesale change to the marketplace, including in the implementation of enterprise resource planning. To remain competitive, ERP vendors likely will have to provide customized solutions – including industry-specific functionality and user-centered design – that take advantage of trends in cloud computing, social media, big data and mobile technology.