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How social makes ERP the heart of the organization

Is your industry immune to disruptive technologies? That was one of the questions Epicor Director of Product Marketing, Robert Sinfield, asked during his Insights ERP keynote presentation in Stockholm, Sweden on the 7th of May. "Technology is changing how we do things and it is having an impact on traditional industries," he said.

The third Insights event in the EMEA series was held at the Elite Marina Hotel located by the inlet from the Baltic Sea in southeastern Stockholm. The regal red brick building was used as a mill in1890s. It has since then gone through many changes and has been used as distribution center, a warehouse, and it is now a hotel. Industries have come and gone in the world just as they have in this building.

"Technology disrupts every industry and changes the way we do things," said Robert to a full room of over 130 attendees. He continued, "The Internet is now fundamental to everything we are doing and it is one of the most disruptive technologies since the invention of the wheel. It has changed the way we do things and the way we do business. It even disrupts established industries."

A digital disruption that has recently appeared in Stockholm is "Uber" – a digital taxi service that enables anyone to become a taxi driver and customers can easily order cabs via an app. Robert commented, "It is changing a very established business and is revolutionizing the taxi industry." He then asked, "Who would have thought that this business could be revolutionized in this way? Is your industry immune? Have you started to look at disruptive technologies and how it can affect your industry going forward?"

Statistics show that we do not Google ERP anymore but rather specific point solutions that will make our lives easier. Research also shows that the traditional way of using ERP doesn't necessarily fit in to the way we want to do business today. Sinfield explained, "Commercial consumerism is changing the way we want to use EPR. We still have top-down pressures from the organization to be able to manage processes and to be able to measure what is happening in the organization. But we also have pressures coming from the users in the organization that need to have access to the information quickly and they need to be able to access it on mobile devices, when and where they want. How can we be more responsive and fill these vacuums?"

Just as the Internet is a part of our everyday lives, it is also in the background. In a similar manner social ERP is bringing ERP to the forefront by keeping it in the background of the organization. Sinfield continued, "Users can get information simply by following something and engaging in a conversation, for example around an order, or what’s happening with a supplier, without having to know how the ERP works. That is how ERP becomes the heart of what we are doing – by making it invisible to the users."

Posted by Epicor Insights Team

Get the Stuff Done – Easy, Fast and Connected

A couple of weeks’ ago we hosted our annual German customer conference in Frankfurt. Customers and partners arrived with high expectations for open discussions, expert insights and an update on the latest Epicor product developments and best practices in ERP.

The event itself consisted of a number of live demos combined with workshops for topics including mobile ERP and social ERP, as well a number of customer presentations. Plus, to add a third party perspective to the event, sponsoring partners DotNet IT, DSPanel, TIE Kinetix and XSOL provided advice and insight on value-added services and solutions for modern ERP environments.

While the event itself was varied, the main message was clear: over the next two years the manufacturing industry will invest heavily in ERP modernization. Therefore, finding a reliable long-term partner with continuous innovation plans is vital.

A well-established system integrator and Epicor ERP partner for small and medium-sized businesses, SMC IT AG understands that German manufacturers rely on local service partners that are able to understand industry-specific needs, support their international expansion plans and drive innovation initiatives. Asked about their decision to include Epicor into their solution portfolio, the outstanding collaboration features, modern user interfaces and open software architecture of Epicor EPR were named as key reasons for the decision.

However, beside technology features, SMC IT AG also raised a very valuable point – that the ERP user experience is now a vital selection criterion for today’s Generation Y, a generation that will be at the forefront of the development of the businesses of the future. This generation will want the tools they use in their business life, to be as intuitive and as user-friendly as the ones they use in their personal lives. Therefore, approvals via smartphones, problem solving using social technologies or Google-like information access will be just a few of the decisive features that they look for when selecting ERP as a business critical software solution.

However, it’s not just customer expectations that will be driving the shift in ERP requirements but the changing technology landscape too. Another hot topic at the event was Industry 4.0 – loosely defined as the next phase of industrial revolution - or in other words, the Internet of Things (IoT), where smart devices are intelligent enough to assume major control over our machines of manufacturing and distribution.

According to Guido Heinz, Channel Manager Europe and Wolfgang Verheyen, Senior Director Consulting Services at Epicor, networked machines and data sources will initially enhance optimization strategies in maintenance and capacity utilization for manufacturing operations. A generation of new revenue sources with Internet of Things solutions will follow. However one thing’s for certain; Epicor ERP is ready to embrace these opportunities head-on.

Posted by Epicor Insights Team

ERP – The Invisible Integrator

Today, ERP is all about inspiring decisions to help drive the business forward and promote growth, but how is this currently working in practice?

This was the main topic of discussion at our recent customer event “Insights” in Frankfurt, Germany. In his keynote to over 80 attendees, Keith Deane, Executive Vice President and General Manager for Epicor International, outlined why providing employees with easy access to the right information at the right time, is the key to making smart decisions. However, while in theory this may sound easy, reality shows a different picture.

According to a Redshift survey, many employees get frustrated as it takes too long to access the necessary information from their existing ERP systems. However, this increasing demand for instant access to data, is putting pressure not only on businesses to modernize ERP systems, but also to leverage cutting-edge technologies such as cloud, social and mobile.

As Robert Sinfield, Product Marketing Director at Epicor discussed at the event, technologies - from social to the Internet of Things (IoT) to cloud and 3D printing – all are game changers, democratizing the manufacturing ecosystem. Disruptive technologies like these enable processes to become extremely flexible, alter the way people interact and drive pressure to keep up-to-date with the fast-changing market trends. Factors such as transparency and traceability become important: leaders need to be able to track and monitor information and know what is happening within their organisation at any given point of time.

In this environment, ERP systems and these new technologies need to be part of the same solution where ERP becomes the central tool for providing contextual information. However, at the same time, the system itself becomes increasingly hidden behind its modern user interfaces for social collaboration, mobile apps and dashboards.

At Epicor, we recognise that needs and technology are changing and are constantly looking for ways to enhance our solutions and ensure a fast and continuous optimization of innovative technologies. Our development team works closely with customers, constantly tracking and measuring against strict targets. One thing that came out of the German Insights event was that to gain a competitive advantage, businesses need seamless processes that work, supported by a comprehensive ERP system. As an ERP provider it’s our job to ensure these systems remain up-to-date with the changing business and external requirements.

Posted by Epicor Insights Team

What’s around the corner for ERP?

It’s a truism that technology is changing our world faster than most of us can hope to react to it. At Epicor Insights 2015, Malcolm Fox, VP Product Marketing for Epicor, explained not only how changes in technology are influencing the ERP industry, but also how Epicor is monitoring those changes on behalf of its customers, to become a technology partner which can help manufacturing businesses remain ahead of the curve.

Fox said, “Here in the heart of the first industrial revolution, we’re experiencing what major tech companies like Siemens are calling the fourth industrial revolution: the bringing together of a huge variety of data sources and computing power for interacting systems. In the big data world, ‘communities of machines will organise production lines and supply chains themselves’.”

Disruptive technologies are “coming at us from every angle,” says Fox. “Think of the global changes (and challenges) in energy; materials science developments like nanotubes, 3D printing, the mobile internet, the Internet of Things, or the economies of scale technologically afforded by cloud computing…”

All of us are impacted by at least a few of these trends. Most of us are affected by several; and it pays for CEOs to see the future. Fox gives the example of Kodak, which was not only a corporate giant which went into administration; but whose final blow was cruelly dealt by the likes of Instagram, a billion-dollar upstart with only thirteen employees. Says Fox, “Business leaders must embrace the use of data and analytics to anticipate disruption.”

And everyone can use data. Take “the connected cow”, not an urban myth but farming reality. Today’s dairy farmers – who need data-driven efficiencies in their dysfunctional marketplace more than most – are connecting their cows to the Cloud, to monitor the health of the animals, analyse milk yields, forecast livestock requirements, streamline distribution and offer data downstream to the rest of the supply chain. Daisy is the icon of a business being transformed through the judicious application of technology.

What does that mean for ERP? Well, in the words of Ventana Research, “In many respects today’s ERP systems are exactly what people don’t want anymore” Why? The problem is that traditional ERP was all about enforcing a process: driving efficiency through top-down management of concrete process implementation. But life is no longer like that. The smart money is on agility, evolution and responding to external triggers. Companies must evolve in response to competition and customer demand. Institutionalised processes are now a liability: the future is individualised, mobilised and responsive. Smart businesses respond to triggers at the bottom, on the shop floor or in the street. They spot and fill customer vacuums.

To achieve this whilst not sacrificing the underlying resilience and strength of ERP as a proposition, Fox says we can look to the world of apps for an answer. “Apps – whether on mobile or other platforms – give users the data they need without complexity and in interfaces they find engaging, whilst remaining connected to the full depth of underlying information.”

Similarly, widgets for reporting, social collaboration, exception management and remote admin (to take just a few examples) allow everyone to work with ERP data in bite-sized technological chunks and see immediate value. And for developers, this also makes sense: instead of Big-Bang releases, we can deliver a steady stream of incremental improvements. Disruption in the technology business is allowing Epicor to take advantage of tangible changes in the ERP landscape and deliver greater agility to clients.

The Epicor product strategy is therefore focused on helping clients resolve the challenges we all face:

  • Drive innovation (digital-first, use the cloud, remain agile)
  • Operate a fact-based business (data-driven, optimise business intelligence opportunities)
  • Simplify the user experience (mobile support, user-centricity, social activation, apps)

You can expect Epicor to be progressively streamlined both behind the scenes and above the waterline. It has an ‘anywhere/any device’ ethos, consistent both in the cloud, on premise or anywhere in between. And as customers, an agile development cycle means incremental code releases for core Epicor products. It’s all about making more aspects of the product more usable in more situations, for more users, from Day One.

Posted by Epicor Insights Team

Report on Manufacturing and ERP: Part Two

In our first post on manufacturing and enterprise resource planning (ERP), we covered the key findings presented by Kevin Prouty, senior vice president, research, at Boston, Massachusetts-based industry analyst Aberdeen Group, based on an Aberdeen survey of manufacturers. He reviewed key findings, figures showing how best-in-class manufacturers get more from ERP than average manufacturers, and how those using mobile ERP are getting better performance from their enterprise systems than those not using mobile capabilities. Today we conclude with what Prouty reports about manufacturers upgrading their ERP systems, as well as their use of cloud-based technology.

Results show that best-in-class manufacturers are much more likely to stay current with their ERP than average and laggard competitors:

Pouty cited four reasons that drive replacing ERP systems:

  • Lack of support from ERP vendor (55 percent)
  • Inability to tailor ERP to integrate changes to the business (42 percent)
  • Lack of qualified resources to maintain and support current system (29 percent)
  • Obsolete technology foundation or infrastructure of current ERP (24 percent)

Those who were reluctant to upgrade cited three reasons:

  • Current release satisfies needs (45 percent)
  • Lack of new features to build a solid business case (38 percent)
  • Fear of disruption to the business (37 percent)

With the rise of cloud-based ERP usage, manufacturers were asked why they would choose a cloud-based system. Sixty-two percent indicated lower cost of ownership, 46 percent cited the ability to scale the solution, 39 percent indicated reducing the cost and effort of upgrades, and 38 percent cited configuration flexibility. Other factors noted included ease of use and seeking the best fit.

Leaders found it important that cloud-based ERP fits into a multi-tiered strategy; they were more than twice as likely to have implemented a multi-tiered ERP strategy featuring corporate standards along with second-tier ERP to support local business models.

The benefits of cloud-based ERP in terms of performance metrics were considerable:


 

Prouty concluded his presentation with five points and recommendations, based on the performance of industry leaders:

  • Use as much of an ERP system as you can.
  • ERPs don’t fail, organizations do.
  • Extend ERP beyond the box it came in.
  • Look at all implementation options.
  • Strive to continuously improve.

The one thing not to do to keep competitive: nothing.

Posted by Manufacturing Insights Team

Report on Manufacturing and ERP: Part One
Kevin Prouty, senior vice president, research, at Boston, Massachusetts-based industry analyst Aberdeen Group, recently gave a presentation on manufacturing and enterprise resource planning (ERP) based on an Aberdeen survey of manufacturers. Respondents were scored across selected performance criteria and companies were segmented into best-in-class (top 20 percent), industry average (middle 50 percent), and laggard (bottom 30 percent) categories.
Key findings of the research included:
  • A lack of visibility and predictability is driving manufacturers today.
  • ERP is the single most implemented enterprise application.
  • ERP lays the foundations for standard business processes among manufacturers.
  • ERP is a living system that is maintained, extended, and evolved after initial implementation.
  • Best-in-class manufacturers are much more likely to have a multi-ERP or federated strategy than average or laggard organizations.

Respondents ranked the top pressures in manufacturing as unpredictable demand (41 percent), increased volume and complexity of data (40 percent), availability of skilled resources (35 percent), inability to collaborate across the extended enterprise (22 percent), and maintaining the security and stability of data (22 percent).

A comparison of best-in-class manufacturers with industry average manufacturers across performance metrics shows significant differences:

 
ERP is pervasive among manufacturers, with leaders indicating 97 percent adoption and followers 88 percent. The top five ERP extensions were CRM, warehouse management (beyond inventory management), standalone financial planning and budgeting, BI or analytical tools, and EDI translators. Across the board, industry leaders get more out of their ERP than followers; for example, seeing a 12 percent improvement in operational costs (versus 4 percent for followers), 39 percent improvement in inventory turns (versus 18 percent), and 20 percent improvement in stock-to-sales ratios (versus 7 percent).
An important finding of the study documented the benefits of mobile ERP:
 

 
These compelling figures point to why manufacturers are increasingly demanding mobile ERP capabilities.
In Part Two of this post, we’ll look at what the Aberdeen study said about upgrading ERP and the use of cloud-based ERP. Stay tuned.

Posted by Manufacturing Insights Team
Monitoring the ERP Clock

Knowing when to replace one’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can be a tricky proposition. For many organizations, growth, revisions to the business model, or physical changes may be the drivers of “monitoring the clock” on a current system. On the other hand, symptoms may have emerged that indicate the system’s useful life is running down. These could range from people working outside of ERP to do things that should be part of ERP processes, reliance on a diminishing number of key staff to keep the system operating properly, or finding that the system is struggling to keep abreast of technological developments.

Ultimately, if ERP no longer supports the organization’s strategic objectives efficiently and cost-effectively, chances are the clock is winding rapidly towards its end. Not anticipating this event can threaten an organization’s competitive status.

In a timely article on Information Week, Anish Kanaran, channel director for Epicor in the Middle East, Africa, and India, addresses the issue of ERP change:

An ERP replacement project can be a huge undertaking financially and operationally; so make sure that when your current ERP clock runs out; your next system has a longer lifespan. The ability of a system to be scalable and flexible enough to grow and map itself against the long-term objectives of the business is important, but so too is partnering with the right vendor. Choose a provider who makes the right investment in technology. ERP systems that are designed to embrace new technologies as they emerge provide the right foundation on which to build your ERP strategy. Modern ERP providers do the thinking for you. They anticipate change and offer innovative solutions to not just meet functionality requirements but [also] the changing ways that users will need to work to continually improve productivity and ultimately the speed at which you can do business.

Kanaran provides a useful checklist of best practices for resetting the ERP and making sure one’s ERP system stands up to future organizational needs:

  • Keep an eye on the technology evolution. Anticipating the rapid evolution of technology and user expectations, and incorporating it into business software solutions, are important differentiators. A good example of this practice is being able to facilitate the sharing of information within your business to improve productivity. Promoting collaboration beyond the four walls of your business opens up conversations with customers and suppliers, making information readily available to facilitate speed and agility.
  • Usability means productivity. The easier a system is to use, the quicker your business will start to see value. Unprecedented ease-of-adoption, from management of implementation and upgrades to the ease with which casual users can access information, means unsurpassed usability and productivity.
  • Technology on your terms. The system should provide choice and flexibility when it comes to access and deployment, whether you choose to deploy on premise, hosted, or cloud, with access from PCs, tablets, or mobiles.
  • Choose the right technology partner. A proven ERP provider will have a long history of successful implementations across a variety of sectors. They will start the process by gaining a deep understanding of your business and objectives and then tailor the system accordingly. They should be experts in your industry and help you to delve into the nuts and bolts of your business. As an objective third party, they can shed new light on business challenges that you may not have realized even exist.
  • Make sure scalability and performance are high on your list. Enhanced performance, scalability, and ease of deployment will boost business agility and growth. Being able to grow with your business and adapt to change is essential.

Time, as the old rock song says, keeps on slippin’ into the future. For businesses that want to keep soaring higher, keeping close track of the ERP clock will help them avoid being grounded by obsolescent software.

Posted by ERP Insights Team
Connected ERP: The New Imperative

Recently, we posted on the rise of collaboration as a key element in today’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). That topic points to a broader necessity: the need for connected ERP.

For businesses whose operations increasingly span the globe, connectivity is not an option but a strategic imperative. One reason for this is the accelerating pace of change and innovation driving market demand. Markets are inherently dynamic, often volatile, and supply networks that are widely dispersed and highly nuanced need to access information as it emerges, when it emerges, accurately, anywhere. This is necessary for operational efficiency, but also for effective collaboration, meaningful analysis, and informed decision-making. In this fluid environment, companies are also changing more rapidly, growing organically, acquiring new products and services, and taking on new partners (and dispensing others) to increase the power and value of their supply chains.

What Does This Mean for ERP?
First, ERP must be easily integrated with services from any source and data in any format. It must not only support the elimination of siloed information that has been the bane of many an organization, but also go beyond its transactional roots to empower and connect “information workers” wherever they exist in an organization, either formally or informally. For ERP, this means flexible integration: a move beyond permanent, formal EDI connections to seamless connectivity at the business level on an ad hoc basis as well as through standardized methods.

How ERP version 10 Addresses Connectivity
For Epicor ERP version 10, connections to other systems and data take many forms. For example, ERP 10 has nearly 1,400 services that interact with callers through more than 20,000 operations. Operations are the primary way ERP 10 conducts business, usually by conversing with the ERP 10 Client Application, mobile devices, or browser forms. However, there are other ways to engage Epicor ERP 10, including interfaces designed for bulk data import/export through flat structures or EDI formats. ERP 10 also allows users to define ad hoc data views, which are convenient slices of information that can be visualized and updated in dashboards or used as easily invoked APIs.

Many ERP customers have multiple establishments (i.e., offices, plants, warehouses) and sometimes multiple ERP instances (Peer ERP). Epicor ERP 10 can federate these instances together to form a single-enterprise ERP system. Federated ERP is loosely coupled, which means resource data such as customer and part records do not require complete synchronization.

All these approaches to reaching out to other systems and data are available through Epicor ERP 10. It has the capability to manage high throughput shipping transactions for distributors, business workflows that automate complex interactions with partners, or even a simple data entry form from any device.

ERP 10 is designed to provide the right tool for the right task, anywhere in an organization’s value network.

Ready to learn more? Visit here http://info.epicor.com/FY15-Microsite/.

Posted by Epicor ERP Insights Team

Why You Need an Agile ERP System: Part Two

In part one of this post, we discussed the technologies driving development in today’s digital business landscape, the major forces driving dramatic change, and the challenges businesses face in a time of transformational innovation. To adapt to transformational change, enterprise resource planning (ERP) needs to be agile; otherwise, companies will look up from their systems and wonder what happened.  

Many people think of ERP systems as dinosaur relics of the information age. They deserve a little of that reputation—they are large and complex applications that are often tied to business practices of the past. But the fact is that ERP becomes more important than ever in the digital age.

In the beginning, ERP was about cost controls and efficiency. But today’s leading companies use ERP for revenue expansion. Growth in today’s marketplace requires adopting the new business practices emerging as result of technical progress. The velocity and complexity of these developments mean people need ERP more than ever, although ERP itself needs to evolve to avoid becoming an impediment to progress.

Here is the challenge in a nutshell:

  • The pace of change is fast and accelerating.
  • Digital disruption is well underway.
  • To succeed, companies must respond to new business models.

All this requires a shift in ERP. Here is what today’s users need from their ERP systems:

  • Deployment choice
  • Easy analytics and reporting
  • Channel integration
  • Low cost of ownership
  • Easy configuration
  • Rich user experiences
  • Ability to scale

ERP systems historically revolved around institutional thinking. ERP codifies business processes that are defined and measured based on top-down objectives and governance. Business process automation is tricky because something that was perfectly automated a year ago can quickly turn into an obstacle when needs change; so executives’ attitudes towards ERP can change overnight when the business is changing faster than ERP can be updated to optimize processes.

On the other hand, agile ERP shifts its focus toward individual contributions and a system that helps people react and resolve on-the-ground situations never foreseen by their management or software vendors. With agile ERP, people create their own ERP experiences, then share insight with other employees or other companies. Agile ERP frees individual users from the preconceptions long held by their IT departments.

This kind of ERP is all about outcomes, and at its heart, upholds five key principles:

  • Collaboration. In today’s extended value chains, collaboration is essential to drive innovation, uncover opportunity, and respond to change in often-volatile markets. To do this successfully, ERP must be accessible to everyone involved in a company’s value chain, and business processes must be linked directly to that chain. Knowledge retention, traceability, deep domain expertise—these objectives must be supported by enabling communication without latency, and providing easy access and leverage via means that users want to use.
  • Choice. Agile ERP gives organizations the ability to adapt to their unique circumstances, easily configure, stay current with technological advances, and scale up or out as demands dictate. All without taxing IT demands or frustrating delays.
  • Responsiveness. In a world where events on one side of the world can immediately impact business on the other, the ability to respond is paramount. Business analysis must be in context and business response must be agile; customer expectations allow for nothing less. Agile ERP is designed to deliver in this taxing milieu, providing rich global functionality that organizations can use, in an instant, for strategic response and competitive advantage.
  • Simplicity. As value chains become increasingly extended, nuanced, and complex, you can’t have your core systems adding to the complexity. By simplifying deployment, management, and usage—and by providing accurate, up-to-date information that enables a single version of the truth across multi-faceted supply and demand networks—agile ERP reduces complexity and makes it simpler to make the decisions for sustained success.
  • Mobility. Today’s workers aren’t chained to their desks or their computers; they want 24/7 access to the information they need, wherever they are, on whatever device they use. Agile ERP is designed to deliver this flexibility.

By adhering to these principles, ERP can provide the agility companies need to cope with transformational change. In doing so, it will support their growth and success in an increasingly competitive business landscape.

Posted by Epicor ERP Insights Team

Why You Need an Agile ERP System: Part One
Five pillars of change are dominating discussions about today’s technology:
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Cloud
  • Big data
  • Video/unified communications

“Mobile” is about the interface—how quickly we can access computing power. Today we have more computing power in our smartphones that what was used to send the first man to the moon. “Social” is the network and who is engaged. Social transcends personal and work, and today genuine value resides in this network. The “cloud” is the information store and innovation platform. “Big data” is the brains and intelligence resident in the information, be it structured or unstructured. Finally, “video and unified communications” are how we share, interact, and collaborate with each other across all senses.

While these five forces are interesting on their own, digital business disruption is happening at their convergence: social and big data, mobile and cloud, video and mobile. It’s this convergence that is creating tremendous market disruption.
In the midst of this technological advance, market change is accelerating.

In light of these forces, where is your company today? Where will it be in five years? Consider this: in 2010, Blackberry had a 45 percent market share, Apple 25 percent, Microsoft 15 percent, Android 7 percent, and Palm 5.7 percent. Today, Blackberry has a 1.5 percent share. The pace of change has never been so intense. Since 2000, 52 percent of the Fortune 500 has been merged, acquired, or gone bankrupt.

Four massive trends are driving this change:
  • Macro trends
  • An increasingly dynamic work force
  • Disruptive technology adoption
  • New digital business models
The first of these trends cannot be controlled by organizations: natural disasters, political unrest, and economic recessions are effectively beyond their scope of influence. But the other three can be planned for, and need to be accommodated by today’s agile enterprise resource planning (ERP).
 
Dynamic Work Force
In addition to where we work, when we work, what we work on, and how we work, even the notion of why we work has changed. All this is impacting ERP development. While most analysts discuss the changing work force in generational terms (e.g., millennials, generation X, generation Y, baby boomers, post war), Constellation Research segmented the workforce in terms of digital proficiency, a more useful structure in light of the fact that the environment everyone is competing in is digitally driven:
  • Digital natives: those who grew up with the Internet and are comfortable in engaging in all digital channels.
  • Digital immigrants: those who have crossed over into the digital world, forced into engagement in digital channels.
  • Digital voyeurs: those who recognize the shift to digital, but observe it from a distance.
  • Digital holdouts: those who resist the shift to digital, and ignore or deny its impact.
  • Digital disengaged: those who give up on digital participation.
Disruptive Technologies
The disruptive technologies that impact the enterprise have come from the consumerization of IT, and ERP must be agile enough to accommodate—and take advantage of—their impact in the workplace. The cloud is the innovation platform for these technologies, and ERP must leverage it to user benefit. Social and mobile technologies are driving huge amounts of data to mine for context, something that must be leveraged to discover opportunities, minimize risk, and provide more precise information in real time. What is needed is information that can be used to empower better decision-making at all levels of the enterprise. Information has moved beyond the stuff of records to a vital force that senses, responds to, and communicates with people and machines.
 
Digital Business Models
Consider how business models have evolved in the digital age:
  • Product companies give away product for service revenues.
  • Service-based businesses sell experiences at varying price points and service levels.
  • Experience-based businesses sell business models.
  • Business model companies sell peace of mind.
With the emergence of digital business models, the pace of innovation has accelerated dramatically. Take Sony, for example. In 1983, they introduced the Walkman—a transformational product. It changed the game in music, and Sony hasn’t had a transformational product since. In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod. It wasn’t the best music player, but it was transformational because it changed the music industry at the height of piracy. They convinced people to spend 99¢ on a song instead of pirating it. It saved the music industry in the age of Napster.
 
The iPhone is also innovative, but not because it’s a smartphone. This one device has destroyed 27 business models. These are jobs, companies, and capital never to be replaced. Do you need a flashlight? Do you need a digital camera? Do you develop your pictures at a one-hour photo store? Do you need a GPS device? Do you carry a portable video unit? Do you buy music? Where do you buy books? This is transformational innovation.
Sony wanted to be Apple. Apple became Sony. Now Samsung wants to be Apple. Apple puts out one new phone a year. Samsung puts out a new phone every 40 days. The pace of change is accelerating and transformational.
Can your ERP adapt to this type of transformational change? It will have to be agile to do so.
Part Two of this post will detail what users want, and what agile ERP needs to be. Stay tuned.
 
Posted by the Epicor ERP Insights Team
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