The Decade in ERP
With the holiday season under way, we’re closing out not only the year but also the decade. You know what that means: end of the decade wrap-up lists. The 2010s have been a busy time for enterprise technology. This decade saw the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a period of major breakthroughs in emerging technologies, including machine learning, robotics, the Internet of Things, data analytics and more.
These innovations—along with the end of the recession and increasing global competition in manufacturing and distribution—contributed to the evolution of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Over this past decade, ERP has undergone significant changes to keep up with the pace of industry changes. We’re taking a look back to see which trends defined ERP in the 2010s and predict the future of ERP software.
The dominant trend for the entire decade was the increasing shift to the cloud. Cloud computing was first embraced by customer relationship management (CRM) vendors, such as Salesforce. ERP followed suit, supporting cloud deployments and providing software as a service (SaaS) solutions. Under the SaaS model, a third-party provider hosts applications and makes them available over the internet.
With ERP hosted in the cloud, businesses could enjoy lower up-front costs and simplified implementation projects. As concerns over cloud security abated, more and more companies pursued cloud deployments. In 2018, Epicor reported that three-quarters of prospects were considering cloud ERP.
Though SaaS matured over the decade and was at the forefront of the cloud ERP conversation, this isn’t the only way to take advantage of cloud computing. SaaS doesn’t give businesses full control over the management and upgrade schedule of their ERP instance. Hosting your ERP remotely through a third party, such as Microsoft Azure, gives you the lower costs and ease of the cloud while ensuring you have full control over your solution.
ERP for SMBs
As a result of the cloud boom, ERP became more accessible to small and midsize businesses. Traditional, on-premises ERP deployments required expensive investments in hardware and servers, making the software prohibitive to SMBs. Now, SMBs have the option to host ERP in much more affordable cloud platforms.
Additionally, vendors have been increasingly gearing their solutions towards midmarket manufacturers and distributors. The 2010s saw an explosion in Tier 2 ERP vendors, which primarily serve SMBs. In previous decades, the ERP market was dominated by Tier 1 vendors, such as SAP and Oracle, which were only available to large enterprises.
Tier 2 vendors aren’t just providing accessible solutions. Throughout the decade, Tier 2 vendors have extended their capabilities to support businesses of all sizes, from SMBs to Fortune 500 corporations. This development has leveled the playing field, allowing small businesses to gain advanced features and become more competitive.
Expanded ERP Functionality
What started as a rigid system for material requirements planning and a few other functions has blossomed into a comprehensive solution to manage operations from top to bottom. To keep up with growing industry demands, ERP software expanded to include a wide range of interconnected modules, such as supply chain management, quality assurance and planning and scheduling.
But that doesn’t mean manufacturers and distributors have one vendor for their enterprise software. ERP vendors still have some work to do to make their CRM, BI and other capabilities strong enough for modern business needs. Many businesses are taking a best-of-breed approach, integrating solutions from top vendors to create a single source of truth. API advancements have also made integrations more reliable and easy to execute.
2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day, and this number will only increase as IoT adoption grows. But manufacturers have trouble managing big data, with 35% stressed from information overload. Fortunately, this decade saw ERP making major strides to generate actionable insights from large datasets.
ERP has the ability to take information generated from devices, equipment, customers and everywhere else in your enterprise to give users a complete view of the enterprise. Dashboards display reports and analytics in intuitive formats, helping users gain real-time insights and drill down into data to optimize decision making and respond immediately to issues.
ERP software long held a reputation for being rigid and complex. In the 2010s, vendors redesigned the user experience to make ERP more intuitive and user-friendly. Epicor 10.2, for example, introduced personalized dashboards that allowed each user to customize their home pages.
Inspired by social media, ERP providers also added social collaboration features and supported mobility. This enables users to perform critical tasks, interact with colleagues and access data from any device.
More ERP Success Stories
The late 1990s and early 2000s were full of high-profile ERP disasters, such as Hershey’s failed SAP implementation. Fortunately, ERP customers are becoming a lot savvier. Over the decade, ERP providers, resellers and thought leaders have shared tips for software implementation. As a result, customers became more informed and adopted best practices into their ERP projects. Consumer research paid off: Panorama’s 2019 ERP Report found that 88% of organizations enjoy successful ERP implementations.
ERP failure has also gone down because more companies are trusting experts to guide them in deploying their solutions. Businesses are taking a more simplified approach, enlisting the help of certified consultants to implement and manage their software. Additionally, ERP has become more flexible, allowing companies to configure their software to align with business practices instead of implementing complex homegrown solutions or undergoing expansive customizations.
What’s the Future of ERP?
In the upcoming decade, ERP will only become more sophisticated. The 2010s saw the beginning of ERP vendors incorporating advanced technology such as AI and IoT. AI allows users to automate complex tasks and utilize machine learning to drive deeper insights. IoT devices connected to your ERP deliver real-time updates on enterprise assets, equipment and products, helping you detect the root causes of issues and become more responsive. The 2020s will see AI and IoT more deeply integrated with ERP solutions to optimize manufacturing and distribution performance.
Though blockchain became a topic of conversation in the past decade, it didn’t make any major forays into the ERP market. Developed for digital currency and Bitcoin, blockchain enables information to be transferred automatically and securely. When incorporated in ERP solutions, blockchain has the potential to increase efficiency and transparency. It enables records to be shared safely with partners to improve collaboration and gain instant access to information.
Compliance and security will continue to play a big role in ERP development. Regulations became stricter and data privacy became a greater concern over the 2010s. ERP vendors were under pressure to comply with new standards such as the GDPR and uphold security. With the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) going into effect the first of the year, compliance, security and privacy will likely become even higher priorities in the 2020s.
Though it’s interesting to take a look back to see how technology has evolved, manufacturers and distributors always have to have their eyes towards the future. Epicor ERP has the comprehensive functionality and innovative tools to help businesses become factories of the future. For over 45 years, the vendor has kept up with software trends and industry challenges to develop practical solutions.
Datix is ready to help you grow your business well into the future. An Epicor Gold Partner with extensive services and solutions, Datix can support your organization from start to finish. Our scalable, cutting-edge platforms are designed to fuel long-term manufacturing and distribution success.
Make sure you’re not lagging behind ERP trends. Get your business ready for 2020 by reaching out to a certified consultant at Datix today!