ERP systems have progressed dramatically from the initial mainframe solution of the 1980s and early 1990s into solutions that can operate across business processes and functions and geographic boundaries. There has been a new incarnation of these systems every 10 years and, with each incarnation, a step change in how the solution is deployed and managed.
There has also been a change in the resulting business benefits—from the early days of being a system of record to hold data—into a system of engagement that drives an efficient process through an automated workflow. The latest incarnation is the move into a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution with Oracle and its single system that crosses HCM, ERP, and SCM towers, leading the way.
So why is this latest version such a step change?
In today’s global economy, businesses rely on their ERP systems to enable their operations, drive standardization, and help processes to run efficiently. In reality, the technology used to build many of these systems is over 20 years old. Managing these systems can be costly, stifle innovation, and soak up resources.
The new breed of SaaS applications lets business processes run efficiently while using the latest technology and design thinking to engage users and provide a much-improved user experience. The real change, though, is in how these are deployed and maintained. Systems can be up in a matter of hours, with configuration clearly demarcated from any extension that is necessary. This, in turn, enables the regular releases of new versions to be applied quickly and painlessly, thereby encouraging innovation. This constant update process shifts the focus from a system that is run and maintained to one that becomes a platform for innovation. It creates opportunities to continually improve and, thanks to rapid deployment, quickly apply this innovation.
As with any solution, initial deployment requires a design that works for the business and can be tested and fully integrated with other systems to provide a complete end-to-end solution. The challenge is how to conduct this initial deployment efficiently and effectively while allowing you to deploy your platform, realize the benefits as early as possible, and start creating opportunities for innovation.
To address this challenge, many companies are turning to pre-configured digital platform solutions that enable back office processes, such as Capgemini’s “Digital Platform for Back Office” solution that allows data migration extract, transformation, and load solutions from Oracle EBS and SAP.
And, because these digital platform solutions need to be integrated and hold data to provide that full end-to-end business solutions, reference architectures are emerging using the latest API-based solutions, which provide not only an integration solution but also a mechanism by which the transformation can be managed over a period of time.
With data, the effort and focus should always be on the data itself and not how the data will be technically moved to ensure that the new solution will hold data that the business understands and provides insight for decision making.
In 2018, ERP solutions will move from a system that enables transaction processing and reporting into a platform for innovation and growth—providing automation and insight and continuous improvement opportunities.