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2019 Year in Review

By David Mehok, CFO | Epicor Software | December 19, 2019

Political turmoil, global trade disputes, and conjecture of an economic slowdown all loomed large in 2019. Despite this, global technology spending remained strong. In fact, the latest CIO surveys from Morgan Stanley and Barclays indicate IT spending growth will be in the 4–5% range for the year.

I believe the reason for this is simple: During times of uncertainty, business owners and decision makers are looking for ways to do the following:

1. Improve processes and simplify internal operations

2. Increase flexibility

3. Focus on customers to find new and innovative ways to generate revenue growth

One of the most effective ways to achieve these goals is through the purchase of software solutions that necessitate reimagining business processes in a comprehensive manner—from inventory management and accounts payable, to customer-level intelligence and data analytics.

With this backdrop, let’s review these three themes in our 2019 year in review and look forward to what to expect in 2020.

Process Improvement and Simplification

I like to remind our organization that one of the most challenging forms of innovation is simplification.

Think about some of the most complex and difficult tasks in your respective organizations. Many of them have become complex over extended periods of time. And while each iteration of change and added complexity has a distinct, valid justification, the aggregation of these decisions over many years results in time-consuming and manual processes that can be huge efficiency drains. Attempts to unwind these processes can be very difficult and tend to bring out “organizational antibodies”—those cultural tendencies that resist change.

Now, think about what it would take to significantly simplify these tasks. 

While automation in the form of software solutions can deliver game-changing results regarding unwanted complexity, scoping and implementing software solutions must include a thorough assessment of existing processes and what needs to change. Scoping and implementing software solutions must include a thorough assessment of existing processes and what needs to change. Only then can you fully extract the value of a software solution.

Another key factor of process improvement and simplification is the software delivery model. While many organizations are comfortable with on-premises deployment models, often software as a service (SaaS) is the best means to truly drive simplicity and process improvement. Keep this in mind when conducting your assessment of existing processes. What solution and delivery model will most empower your business and help bring simplicity and automation?

Increase Flexibility

One of the key attributes of a SaaS delivery model is the flexibility it provides. The frequency of technological innovation becomes significantly accelerated through SaaS. Siloed business functions and geographical distribution add to the complexity of bringing technology online. Companies need an easy way to accommodate change that causes the least amount of disruption.

With SaaS, technology advances are effectively and quickly implemented when coupled with process improvement and the ability to steer the organization through change. SaaS also allows business owners to gradually adopt new technology rather than deal with a major upgrade every four or five years. Likewise, an outsourced IT infrastructure can constantly evolve with SaaS to adapt to business and technology changes. 

SaaS also brings flexibility in the form of businesses choosing their software provider and technology partner. Because SaaS is designed as a pay-as-you-go model, end users can move to a new vendor at the end of the contractual period. This holds software providers accountable to consistently deliver solutions that effectively solve business problems and drive efficiency.

Generating Revenue Growth

Growth is the life-blood of every business. One of the best ways for companies to drive long-term, profitable growth is through gaining more customer insight. Most companies have a plethora of unstructured data—called Big Data—about their business and customers, but most do not effectively use it. Thoughtful implementation of software solutions can result in big insights from Big Data—helping to solve real business issues and drive revenue growth.

It’s crucial that smart software solutions address real business issues—not IT-created problems. There are a lot of acronyms out there and a lot of industry speak that tends to confuse overarching business and IT issues. To get it down to its core, you need to understand where you have business pain points, then craft solutions with the combination of process change, automation, and software. It’s a delivery model that allows you to simplify, change, and grow.

How to Extract Value for 2020

The right software solution can be transformative, so your choice in technology partner should not be taken lightly. 

Regardless of what solution you implement, remember this: It’s important to recognize that you cannot solve business issues by putting new software solutions on sub-optimal processes.

Before you implement software, assess your internal processes and determine what should be the perfect state. Then, change the processes as needed. Work through change management to transition processes to a more desired state. After these crucial steps are complete, implement software that drives enhanced productivity improvements and significant value. Good software partners will help you work through the entire process to get optimal results.

While evaluating processes and implementing change is hard work, don’t lose heart. The results can be vastly beneficial for your business and become key drivers of long-term business success.

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