How the ERP of tomorrow should look
Modern ERPs bring us to the precipice of a paradigm shift
The ERP of today has come an incredibly long way from its humble origins of an era where, before it was even named as an ERP, its sole purpose was to capture and remember data - transactions and financial information. Since then, ERPs have learned how to remember more and more volumes of data, recall them faster, sort and organise data, present data in formats as required, analyse data intelligently, take decisions based on analysed data, and allow users to execute their tasks through it by virtue of workflows and authorisations modules. ERPs have undoubtedly come a long way.
However, this is just the beginning.
The historical ERP journey was one that shifted paradigms in business governance, and the technology that is now available brings us to the precipice of another paradigm shift — the ERP of tomorrow.
Decision-making, action, and reaction are a lot quicker in the business arena of today, as compared to the dawn of the ERP age. This impatient nature of business, if matched, gives organisations the competitive edge they need to survive and thrive. The modern ERP consumers want have become more demanding than ever, needing up-to-the-minute, accurate information, at the click of a button. In many scenarios, even accurate data a few hours old isn’t acceptable. Moreover, this information needs to be made available instantly.
As such, the ERP environments of tomorrow will have to rely on high-speed connectivity between various locations of operation, servers, and portable data devices, and couple the reach with intelligent synchronisation capabilities to ensure that the correct version of the data is always assimilated, validated, and then replicated across all arms of the network, ensuring data accuracy in a time-critical environment.
The average consumer of data in the business world of today isn’t static anymore, and demands the ability to consume data anywhere, while on the move, compounding the challenges of satisfying the “information now” demand. The ERP of tomorrow is multi-dimensional, ever present on the computer environment, but now surfing clouds to serve multiple locations, get onto thin clients and serve data to smart mobile devices, ensuring that accurate, relevant, secure and up-to-the-minute data is within easy reach of the data consumer.
The ERP of tomorrow will have to embrace multiple platforms and employ various synchronisation capabilities, security protocols, and integration tools to ensure that it brings about a seamless transition across devices to the user base.
The average consumer of data in today’s business environment demands that the ERP system, with all its complexities, communicates effectively, efficiently, and thoroughly with users to ensure that nothing gets missed. Therefore, it isn’t enough anymore for an ERP to present data to the consumer or user on a screen, as and when it is called. The system needs to learn and then proactively reach out to and communicate with the user, broadcasting critical information through the screen via alerts and pop ups, but also replicate that communication through various modes including email and SMS, ensuring that critical information makes it onto the radar of the user regardless of the location, and the proximity of the user to his or her desk.
It doesn’t end here, however. Certain information, once received by the user, would then need to be acted upon. For that purpose, the ERP of tomorrow needs to be open to non-traditional methods of communication wherein the user cannot be expected to log into the system anymore, but simply reply to the email or the SMS. And the system now needs to be intelligent enough to understand who is communicating with it, what the communication is, and what to do next based on the communication received. In other words, the system is more like a colleague back at the office executing tasks for the user, while he or she is otherwise engaged, thereby augmenting the multitasking capabilities of that resource.