Not too long ago, several experts, analysts and research firms were calling for the demise of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and business intelligence (BI). Those predictions appear to have been premature, as both sectors experienced a revival in 2012.
At the same time, ERP and BI solutions have drastically evolved over the past 12 months, and that trend is expected to continue in the near future.
BI, big data about to collide
Two of the biggest trends in IT right now have to do with cloud computing and bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives. According to a recent Forrester study, cloud-based and mobile BI solutions are becoming "must haves" for the enterprise.
Meanwhile, the growing popularity of cloud computing, mobile applications and social media have spurred the emergence of big data analytics – and big data is one of the top reasons business intelligence has been able to make such a strong comeback. According to a recent Gartner report, IT departments worldwide will invest more than $230 billion on big data from 2012 to 2016, 45 percent of which will go toward social media and content analytics.
"Because big data's effects are pervasive, big data will evolve to become a standardized requirement in leading information architectural practices, forcing older practices and technology into early obsolescence," said Mark Beyer, research vice president at Gartner.
Cloud-based strategies helping ERP thrive
If 2012 is any indication, ERP software is still in very high demand. However, the technology has undergone a variety of changes, including:
- The cloud: Cloud computing has played a major role in reviving ERP systems.
"ERP got off to a slow start in terms of adopting cloud technologies, and the industry was unsure whether it could be a viable model for delivering ERP software," Derek Singleton, an ERP analyst at Software Advice, recently told Enterprise Today. "But now everyone is trying to figure out how to design and develop their ERP software for the cloud."
Not only are companies enjoying the benefits of cloud-based ERP solutions – they are typically cost-efficient and easy to upgrade – but they also allow for the possibility of hybrid strategies. For enterprises that do not want to dump their on-premise legacy systems entirely, hybrid ERP offers a good alternative.
- BYOD for ERP: Employees continue to demand access to corporate networks for their personal devices, and the same is true for ERP systems. According to a recent IDG News Service report, nearly every ERP vendor now offers solutions that are compatible with the mobile workforce.
- Social ERP gaining traction: This trend may be taking off more slowly, but it is undoubtedly picking up steam. China Martens, an analyst at Forrester, recently told CIO Magazine that most ERP vendors have "some sort of 'Facebook for the enterprise.'"
- Integrating different functions: Business functions like BI analytics, human resource management and customer relationship management (CRM) are no longer sold primarily as separate entities. Many ERP systems, particularly those that are based in the cloud, come with fully integrated BI and CRM solutions.