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8 ERP Trends for Forward-Thinking Organizations

Topics: Distribution, ERP, Manufacturing, supply chain, trends, security, ecosystem, cloud, AI, business strategy, IoT, digital transformation

Posted on May 7, 2018 2:00:00 PM by Nick Mears

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A Year of Change, Growth, Learning and Integration: Eight ERP Trends for 2018

As we head into the second quarter of 2018, forward-thinking enterprise organizations continue to find new ways of integrating technology into their ERP processes.

Based on Macola research and the findings of top analysts, these eight ERP trends will significantly impact the ability of manufacturers and distributors to increase visibility & control of enterprise processes, improve decision making through better data collection, integrate core business functions, and automate processes to increase efficiencies and reduce costs:


  1. Digital Transformation
    Manufacturers are realizing real benefits from the impact of digital transformation, from better resource optimization, reduced operating costs, and real-time analysis and decision making to a better user experience. According to recent IDC research, “digital transformation is changing every element of how enterprises conduct business, including how companies capture, process, and disseminate information...the pace is most pronounced in the ERP application suite.”


  2. Vibrant Ecosystem
    Manufacturers and distributors are emphasizing platform over product, looking to their ERP to become the open-architected foundation that creates a vibrant ecosystem by integrating best-of-breed third-party digital products and their data into a single ERP-based source for truth, providing real-time data. IDC recently predicted that “by 2020, 60% of G2000 manufacturers will rely on digital platforms that enhance their investments in ecosystems and experiences and support as much as 30% overall revenue.”

    Gartner predicts that as this trend continues, “a primary differentiator among conversational platforms will be the robustness of their conversational models and the API and event models used to access, invoke and orchestrate third-party services to deliver complex outcomes.” Macola can be fully integrated with third-party apps, not only doing the heavy lifting but also allowing for automation of additional processes behind the scenes.

  1. Hybrid Cloud
    With ERP as the foundation, businesses strategically combine both on-premises and cloud-based “best of breed” solutions to form an integrated Hybrid Cloud. According to CIO, this strategic approach includes “best practices for vetting, connecting, deploying, and testing solutions.” A well-configured, strategic approach to creating a hybrid solution also means companies may not need to scrap existing products to achieve the desired results. PCMag recommends trying to work with vendors “to build a mixed model, which gives you the flexibility to add new SaaS-based modules to your ERP tool without having to start from scratch.”


  2. IoT + Data = Competitive Advantage
    Businesses that avail themselves of the emerging technology to collect and leverage real-time data and streamline operations will gain a competitive advantage. IndustryWeek points out that “the core goal of an ERP system is to provide actionable data and information to company leaders…The Internet of Things has the potential to massively expand data availability and improve accuracy. This has significant implications for customer service, forecasting, inventory management and business intelligence.”

    A survey commissioned by Macola in 2017 found that manufacturing and distribution professionals are finding value in “fourth industrial revolution” tools like wearables, robotics and the IoT, and for good reason: Gartner estimates “potentially billions of dollars of savings in maintenance repair and operation (MRO) and optimized IoT asset performance are on the table.”

  1. Intelligent Processes and AI
    Next-gen ERP combines machine learning and AI to automate human processes, providing greater efficiency and real business value. IDC forecasts that “by 2020, driven by the human versus machine driver, 30% of back-office transactional processing will be automated within many functional applications.” And while Gartner believes “the ability to use AI to enhance decision making, reinvent business models and ecosystems, and remake the customer experience will drive the payoff for digital initiatives through 2025,” artificial intelligence in manufacturing should probably remain narrow rather than general, focusing instead on specific tasks.


  2. A New Focus on Security
    While the technological advances in ERP systems are a huge boon to business, there are risks to watch out for. With the increase in cloud and mobile solutions, a new focus on ERP security is more important than ever. As Forbes is quick to point out, the issue of ERP security “has transformed significantly…leading analysts mention ERP security as a topic to watch, and critical vulnerabilities as well as even proven attacks on such systems hit the headlines on a regular basis.”


  3. A Thinking Supply Chain
    Businesses that leverage ERP to gain vision and agility across the supply chain by integrating collaboration, data analysis and security are setting the pace for the advancement of manufacturing. IDC’s Mickey North Rizza suggests “digitally enabling the supply chain as an evolutionary way of enabling manufacturers to meet the speed and agility required of them in the marketplace."


  4. Events Drive the Digital Business Strategy
    Finally, businesses are taking advantage of specific moments by using ERP to create a digital business strategy that is shifting from a reactive series of individual tasks to an even-based automated process that integrates simultaneous multiple actions. According to Gartner, “the most consequential business moments are those that have implications for multiple parties, such as separate applications, lines of business or partners.”

For a more visual take on our 2018 ERP trends, check out this infographic...

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The ERP Blog covers the impact of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), business software and accounting solutions on organizations in the manufacturing and distribution industries.

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