There are many reasons that Bill Belichick is arguably the most successful football coach in the history of the National Football League. One of the biggest reasons is that he understands that the game, like business and everything else in the world, doesn’t stay the same.
“One of the biggest challenges has been the evolution of the game. The game’s changed, and that's forced everyone to change,” explains Bill Belichick, coach of the defending world-champion New England Patriots. “Learning to adapt, learning to adjust. I really believe there’s a way to win. You just have to figure it out.”
These words are no less true for manufacturers and businesses in general. The game is changing, and the most successful organizations are those that adjust.
Adopting new technology and business processes are part of that change, and ERP is at the center because it enables most of a company’s backend processes.
With that in mind, here are five of the biggest ERP trends happening in 2020. These are trends that the Bill Belichicks of the business world are tracking and planning around right now.
Trend #1: Industry Cloud Solutions
Yesterday’s trend was moving ERP to the cloud, because it is hard to operate in real-time without the connectivity, automatic upgrades and elastic capacity that cloud ERP brings. But the Bill Belichicks of the business world have already made that move; it is table stakes now. The next evolution is pre-packaged industry solutions that are preconfigured and built around the best practices of a given industry.
That’s because while the underlying ERP technology is the same, each industry has specific needs and best practices. Part of what historically makes ERP implementations long and expensive is reinventing the wheel by customizing generic ERP solutions for industry needs. So the trend right now is cloud ERP that comes pre-configured for a given industry.
We saw this trend earlier than most, which is why we are a leader in ERP prepackaged industry solutions.
“We do what we call ‘standard implementations,’” says Grant Fraser, CEO of Navigator Business Solutions. “What vertical are you in? Ok, we’ve got three flavors you can choose. Pick that and we will implement your ERP that way, with off-the-shelf best practices, and we will get you up and running with roughly 60 percent of the cost and 60 percent of the time.”
Trend #2: Combining IoT Data with Real-Time Adjustments
In manufacturing, there’s talk of Industry 4.0. This is where manufacturers automate production adjustments and respond to Internet-of-Things data in real-time. But this isn’t just a trend for manufacturers, this is a fundamental shift that is changing the game for most businesses.
ERP solutions are now making it possible for even SMBs with less than $100 million in annual revenue to collect and act in real-time on data from connected devices on the shop floor, in the field, and from products and services sold to consumers. This is being done by having data from IoT devices flow directly into cloud ERP solutions, and then having built-in analytics solutions make sense of the data and suggest ways for real-time adjustment.
It is no secret that data-driven decision-making is a business macro-trend, and ERP systems that make it easy to act on IoT data is an ERP trend that enables it.
Trend #3: Intelligent Voice Interface
Inaccessible data is data that doesn’t get used.
While ERP systems have long housed the lion’s share of a business’ data, in the past these systems were often clunky or hard to use. Accessing data required training and maybe even a little fearlessness to dig through reporting and business intelligence tools.
Cloud ERP improved on user interface and data accessibility, but one of the newest ERP trends is making it even easier for workers to get the data they need through intelligent voice assistants powered by artificial intelligence.
Think Siri for the enterprise. The Bill Belichicks of the business world are adopting intelligent voice assistants built into their ERP system to make data accessibility dead simple and accessible to everyone from front line workers to those in the C-suite.
Trend #4: Analytics by Context
Often searching for insights is too late. Real-time adjustments require real-time awareness of what is happening within a business.
Employees can go looking for this data through dashboards and reporting, but the next evolution of ERP analytics and business operations in general is real-time analytics served up in context as part of normal operations.
With the help of artificial intelligence, ERP systems now can offer business intelligence side by side with operational data. This context-sensitive, real-time business intelligence becomes far more actionable when it is integrated directly with daily operations. No more hunting for business insight; the insight comes to users.
Trend #5: Extended Lifecycle Management
The lines that separate businesses are blurring. Makers now sell direct to consumers. Distributors provide value-added services. Service after the sale is now as important as moving products.
All of this is requiring a more expansive lifecycle management, both an extended engagement with customers and a better understanding of what they want. Forward-looking business executives are seeing this and making sure their backend systems better capture the full range of lifecycle management. As a result, ERP systems are both gaining in importance and deepening functionality around end-to-end tracking.
Monitoring the customer journey end-to-end and aligning operations with customer product/service expectations is a key adjustment for business in 2020, and another major ERP trend.
The game of business is changing. The best in the game realize this and are finding a way to win.