Managing the businesses of the future: How will ERP stack up?
Technology is in a constant cycle of either dying out or evolving and ERP is no exception. Up until now, ERP has promised the dream of a single system that manages all of a company’s business needs. Sounds pretty useful right? Right. Surely a concept like that wouldn’t become outdated?
Wrong. In a nutshell, traditional ERP hasn’t always been able to keep up with two key emerging technology trends:
- The rapid innovation that’s occurring across all industries. Think connected businesses, cloud collaboration, data analytics, mobile work forces, just to name a few!
- The amount, and changing nature, of data, especially external data, that businesses and industries require.
Traditional ERP needs to evolve and step up its game if it doesn’t want to get left behind, and the good news is, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Step forward, erPL: Enterprise Resource Platform. Its recipe for success…?
Application platform first, functionality on top. All built in the cloud. As Ted Rohm, senior ERP analyst at TEC points out in his recent paper, the historic “ERP dream” – a silver bullet on-premise business management system has often fallen short of expectations. The new dawn of erPL presents a far more appealing reality for entrepreneurs and C-suite execs alike: the ability to run, set up or expand a business with virtually no hardware expense, delivering maximum growth and efficiency.
Let’s break this down further.
But first, what is a platform?
Pretty much every application relies on other software. In essence, the platform is the infrastructure for the application.
Facebook, for example, has a platform which consists of tools, services and products, which are accessible to third-party developers, allowing them to create their own applications that access data in Facebook. This data is predominantly the social graph of your Facebook – your friends, the pages you’ve liked, places you’ve checked in to and so on.
So it’s clear that a platform has a lot of benefits. erPL products have all been developed with this technology platform at their center, adding a robust layer to the traditional software platform which allows businesses to adapt, grow, and evolve.
What came first, the functionality or the platform?
As well as the core functions of ERP – to manage all of a company’s needs including finances, human resources, inventory management, erPL goes a step further. While ERP systems of the past have been developed with a specific function in mind, the new wave of erPL is not beholden to any preconceived idea, but exists to open the platform beyond core services to allow developers and non-techie business users to tailor it and make it their own.
Consumer-grade services such as social collaboration, as well as being used on any device from anywhere can offer the flexibility and openness make it perfect for new business models springing up from the sharing economy, as well as corporates and SMBs who are looking beyond their incumbent system for more innovative ways of working.
Because erPL platforms are developed in the cloud, they can keep up where ERP lags behind. Businesses also benefit, as they can cherry pick the services they require and download them from the cloud, as opposed to installing an entire package filled with services that are irrelevant for their needs.
Fast forward into the future, and we’ll see the leaders in erPL expand into territory once dominated by ERP software vendors. These companies might stay, but only to support underlying services. Ted Rohm uses the apt metaphor of an old building to describe the fate of many ERP companies: costly to replace, but gutted and remodeled. As time goes on, they will increasingly serve as a reminder to the new generation of entrepreneurs and developers of what once was.