As Debbie mentioned in her last post, the changes vendors are making in ERP are exciting. Those of us that have been around long enough to have witnessed (survived?) the evolution of ERP from best of breed to monolithic (Neolithic?) to postmodern are excited about the changing nature of ERP and the investments vendors in the space are making.
Historically, ERP was supposed to be the end-all-be-all and provide better information for management decisions. It would even make your coffee for you in the morning. Unfortunately what was delivered didn’t quite fit the bill – rather the ERP suites of 15-20 years ago became bloated and inflexible beasts. A necessary evil in most organizations.
Yet today you cannot think of ERP the way you did 20 years ago. The problems organizations faced 20 years ago are fundamentally different than those encountered today. External factors such as digital moments are driving change in enterprise applications at unprecedented rates – and there is no indication that things will slow down anytime soon.
So how does ERP fit in to this rapidly changing technology landscape?
Fortunately, the ERP of 20 years ago is not the ERP being developed and delivered by many vendors today. ERP today is more flexible and adaptable and better permits you to focus resources on value added activities, not feeding the beast. Business capabilities are being delivered in the cloud with far better user interfaces and on more flexible platforms than ever before.
ERP has always provided very good platform for processing transactions – and that hasn’t changed. Almost everything we do that involves value exchange includes transaction processing. But you don’t always see the transactions. They have to just happen reliably. ERP is good at that.
But I have recently seen ERP demonstrations of AI in cash management and logistics to enable better decision making, and voice interfaces to traditional processes like expense and invoice processing. And we thought graphical interfaces and touch screens were cool. Vendors really are focusing on making ERP a more effective tool for managing the organization.
The way things are going, maybe your ERP system will be making coffee for you. Or at least talking you through the best place to buy it.