Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have become a mature technology. What began as software designed to manage manufacturing processes has become so much more than that, David Schwarber, managing director of manufacturing business solutions at Cincom, pointed out in a blog for Technology Spectator.
Schwarber wrote that ERP software now has functions as diverse as managing supply chains, accounting, assisting with human resources and customer relationship management (CRM). However, the technology is still evolving. In his blog, Schwarber predicted that ERP will be able "think" more in the future. He suggested ERP's strengths in automation will be integrated with the analytic capabilities of business intelligence (BI) and big data.
A "thinking" ERP system will be able to take every piece of data produced within a company's network and organize it into useful information. This will provide business and IT decision-makers with real-time analysis of anything from behavior predictions to customer satisfaction. At the same time, these applications will continue to be made available to a higher percentage of employees.
According to Schwarber, intuitive ERP systems have produced a 30-to-1 return on investment and have helped business professionals close deals 80 percent faster.
Future ERP trends
Integrating ERP with business intelligence analytics will likely continue for the foreseeable future, but it won't be the only trend. A recent Panorama Consulting Solutions report predicted that companies will also adopt mobile solutions that are compatible with ERP.
"An increasing amount of companies will recognize that newer ERP systems will not necessarily help them make better use or sense of business information without the tools to better support decision-making among both employees and leadership," said Eric Kimberling, president of Panorama Consulting Solutions, according to ITWeb.
In general, integrating ERP with corporate infrastructures should continue in 2013, which means ERP software will likely include better integration and solution architecture. Meanwhile, the focus is expected to return to finding the best business practices rather with the lowest cost, as this will be most likely to produce the fastest return on investment.
At the same time, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud-based ERP hype could plateau, although small and medium-sized businesses are still expected to gravitate toward SaaS cloud-based ERP. In addition to being less expensive, SaaS makes it easier to implement niche functions like CRM.