POST WRITTEN BY Andres Richter CEO of Priority Software, a leading ERP solutions vendor with offices in Israel, US, UK, and Belgium and customers in over 40 countries.
ERP solutions have come a long way since the term was first coined by Gartner in 1990. New innovations in collecting and analyzing data, along with the need to streamline operations to stay competitive, have raised the bar on ERP performance.
In 2020, I believe that by leveraging AI and IoT technologies, ERP systems will become smarter, faster, leaner and better equipped to keep pace with the rapid rate of business change.
Smarter ERP Leveraging AI and IoT
New technologies that were previously buzzwords will become more operational this year. ERP systems will utilize smart sensors to track items and trigger messages so customers will know their packages’ exact locations during each step of their journeys and not just when they arrive at their final destinations. For example, according to the Wall Street Journal, UPS recently announced “plans to launch a service for healthcare customers that uses sensors and data analytics to track medical packages’ exact location in near-real time.” I believe we’ll see more companies begin to use smart sensors in a similar fashion in 2020.
I also believe customers will also receive real-time alerts regarding the status of their customer service requests, including if replacement parts are in inventory, when the necessary parts and materials are ordered, and when technicians will arrive to make the final repairs.
AI will also be used more extensively to improve customer service. Virtual digital assistants will scan previous customer service records to route the call to the most appropriate agent and then provide recommended responses based on successful responses to similar requests. Gartner predicts (via TechNative) that in the next few years, 40% of organizations will deploy virtual assistants.
ERP will be integrated with manufacturing execution systems to analyze production data to improve shop floor operations and to better meet regulations and manage inventories. Using sensor technologies, ERP systems will perform predictive maintenance proactively, initiating service calls to improve safety and product quality while preventing breakdowns and extending equipment life.
By integrating ERP systems with blockchain technology, transactions will be authenticated automatically only when certain conditions are met to minimize fraud and reduce financial risk. AI technologies will be used to preform accounting functions such as automatically generating a chart of accounts and performing account reconciliation.
Instead of financial data spread out over multiple documents, PDFs and spreadsheets, artificial intelligence will be used to extract data from receipt images, automatically classify it based on spend category and then generate reports for analysis.
Faster Time to Market
Bloated, complex, expensive and inflexible systems that require lengthy IT projects and possibly vendors’ professional services teams will be replaced by systems that are easier to update and customize. ERP systems will include features that enable businesses to operate and maintain their systems independently without requiring programmers with special training and unique skills so their systems can adjust more quickly to business changes.
For example, one RFI (a customer of ours) required ERP companies to demonstrate the time it takes to change a single field, with larger companies requiring a professional services project of several weeks and the winner demonstrating the ability to customize in under an hour.
In 2020, I think we’ll see companies experience more value from their ERP systems by having specialized expertise built into them for specific industries such manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and agriculture. These solutions will support clearly defined business processes unique to a certain sector and will focus on solving specific business challenges to drastically reduce customization needs by staying on top of new regulatory policies and industry trends.
Leaner For Right-Sized ERP
In today’s business landscape, there are 30.2 million small businesses that comprise 99.9% of all United States businesses. To take advantage of this market, ERP systems will provide more cost-effective solutions that focus on delivering core functionality with the ability to scale up as businesses grow.
Not only will smaller companies benefit from right-sized solutions, but also larger companies will be on the market for a solution that provides them with the functionality they need without all the complexity of larger systems that slow them down. By providing open systems that integrate easily, each division or branch will continue to use the ERP solution that matches its needs without being forced to use larger systems that are designed for company headquarters.
For companies to stay competitive, their ERP systems need intelligence and speed to help them improve efficiency and react more quickly to the dynamic business environment. Those ERP systems that leverage more advanced technologies to better optimize — while at the same time being easy to use, scale and customize — will rise to the front of the pack.
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