The America’s Cup for yacht racing was originally the 100 Pounds Cup when placed in competition in 1851 at the World’s Fair in Britain. That year America won the competition decisively with an advanced design for yacht racers in an age when Britannia ruled the waves. From there, the United States embarked on what would become the longest winning streak in the history of sport. A 132-year stretch saw boats representing the US successfully defend the trophy 24 times from 1870 until 1983. This wasn’t accidental.
The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) membership had come up with an advanced yacht configuration specifically designed to win the race. The successful defenses over 124 years were due largely to the members of the NYYC investing in advanced yacht designs from multiple designers across the globe. Designers were constantly changing the hull, mast, sail designs, even winches and crew training to maintain the technical advantages that won them the cup in the first place.
In 1983 my family was invited to attend the America’s Cup races in Newport, RI as the guests of a corporation my father was doing business with. It was to be a day of fun on the ocean on a private yacht being ridiculously spoiled watching the Americans dominate the competition yet again. Little did we all know we’d be watching history unfold that day.
Australia’s Royal Perth Yacht Club’s Innovative Keel Design
Australia’s Royal Perth Yacht Club wrested the cup away from the Americans by beating them at their own game. They came up with an advanced keel specifically designed to manage the wind and water conditions off Newport RI. This successful challenge led to multiple future design advancements over the years eventually resulting in the racing catamarans we see today.
So what does this have to do with ERP?
ERP suites – even the postmodern ERP configurations of recent years – have dominated the market and the ERP mindset of organizations for decades. ERP vendors are now investing in advanced technology like AI, Machine Learning and RPA – and these investments will result in some significant productivity enhancements over the next few years. But the future of ERP is going to be much more than changes to hull dimensions or mast design. The very nature of ERP is moving away from the transaction processing engine beasts of the past to more of a suite of business capabilities delivered as services. No amount of tweaking the design of a 1980’s cup racer is going to compete with the lighting fast catamarans in use today.
Likewise, organizations must shift their thinking away from incremental changes and improvements to a legacy transaction processing system. Successful competition in the future will require a mentality centered around leveraging improved business capabilities delivered by vendors.
A nice yacht is great if you want to enjoy an afternoon of sailing. But won’t cut it for competing in tomorrow’s business world.
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