In 2016 ERP has become synonymous with legacy systems, you could say it’s become boring because it is the focus of cost reduction initiatives as organisations seek to deliver back-office functions cheaper and more efficiently. Netsuite have done a great job in disrupting the market and taking ERP to the cloud. I’ve previously written about how the ERP market will develop and it’s clear that there have been a lot of changes and many ERP systems, even legacy ones, are running on IaaS clouds and delivering significant cost savings. Even so, until now it’s all within the existing ERP paradigm.
But it looks like a major disruption could now be on the cards and this has been discussed by IDC in their recent paper where they coined the term: i-ERP (don’t know whether it’s original but it was my first reading of it).
When Henry Morris, IDC Fellow, said
"i-ERP (intelligent ERP) applications, incorporating machine learning, are set to be the next wave of ERP, supporting the digital transformation of companies at the core of their enterprise systems. Evaluating these systems relies on assessing three dimensions: an assistive and conversational user experience, extended process automation and augmentation, and curated data sets accompanied by in-context access."
a bulb went off in my head and, just like scientists researching parallel paths, I realised we’d been thinking similar things.
With the traditional ERP vendors, SAP and Oracle(incl NetSuite), now delivering open PaaS products it’s clear that ERP can now enter a new phase where the “intelligence” of i-ERP can be delivered by some of the bots that we’ve started to develop. So today by using conversational UIs over big data platforms we are able to enhance ERP functionality to inform and guide ERP users to make the correct decisions.
So, for example, imagine being a credit controller or treasurer in a large multi-national company and there is a flash crash in Asia, hypothetically speaking, of course. With traditional ERP you would hear about it on your drive to work, rush in and start running various static reports to understand what your potential exposure is. You’d build some spreadsheets to do some “what if” analysis and then hopefully by the end of the day (or week) have a plan of how to minimise your exposure and then put the plan into action. With i-ERP your system has been monitoring for adverse situations across a vast stream of dynamic data that could impact your business and major currency fluctuations would be a key one. When a tolerance is exceeded the “analysis bot” would “stride” in to action and an impact report would be on your work iPad even before you got into your connected car. You could ask for some “what if” analyses there and then and decide whether to action the plan immediately or consider it as you drive in and kick it off when you arrive. If you choose to act, because you are still the ultimate decision maker, then it can be done quicker based on better insights.
Or what about if you are trying to improve customers service. Currently there are a team of people monitoring orders in your ERP system, allocating stock, tracking deliveries, expediting problems, etc. if there is a problem then there is a lead time for communication, a lead time for action and a lead time for rectification. In our new i-ERP world, our customer service bot is monitoring, communicating, actioning and potentially rectifying in real-time. Our orders are being tracked in real-time at a truck, pallet, drone and package level and any deviation from their planned route and timeline creates an alert and corrective action plan. A conversational UI would be available both for the customer and for the customer service agents to ensure that customer service levels were high irrespective of the challenges faced.
These ideas might seem farfetched but they are technically feasible. A lot of the benefits still seem in tangible but more detail is becoming available and so the value is becoming clear.
The next phase of the evolution is dawning with i-ERP and the emergence of the i-ERPbot is upon us. There are exciting times ahead again in the ERP market.
What do we think? A new era dawning?