It’s an exciting time for ERP
Posted by Thomas Staven
IDC recently released its IDC FutureScape report on worldwide Intelligent ERP 2018 predictions,* which raises some interesting points. (The report is available to IDC subscribers.)
Let’s start with one assumption that “by 2021, 90% of new packaged enterprise applications will have an Embedded Decision Architecture that auto-detects and evaluates conditions and makes decisions about how to respond.”
The report asserts that “sense, compute, actuate will be the new data-centric paradigm.”
Of course, AI is the latest buzz phrase being shoehorned into every enterprise vendor communication today. But what we’re really talking about is core business software with the ability to analyse the information at its disposal and drive an outcome. Software that receives the right level of data to deploy pattern matching and machine learning in order to make sense of a situation, compute and suggest the best course of action, or even to take that action on our behalf. IDC calls it I-ERP. At Unit4, we refer to it as self-driving software.
There has never been a more exciting time for ERP software. Let’s face it, it’s never been a great conversation starter. While ERP is becoming more sophisticated, with support for mobile devices and cloud functionality now commonplace, most users would prefer systems that are quicker and more responsive. Developers are trying to innovate past it, but that's not always possible with the kind of monolithic architecture that can be found in contemporary ERP installations. IDC calls this an “innovation impasse”, where legacy systems are constraining transformation.
What’s exciting though is that new technology has also given us the opportunity to consolidate data sources, even from the most antiquated legacy systems. This will not only provide more data than ever before, it can also give a better quality of data in a unified and predictable format. From here, rich analytics can help to build sophisticated UIs and facilitate the machine learning and artificial intelligence that will be at the heart of self-driving enterprise software from now on. It also lays the groundwork for future innovation, which is what makes ERP so exciting for developers right now.
ERP remains crucial to successful digital transformation, but rather than a system of record, it has to become intelligent; more helpful, intuitive and proactive than it has been in the past. This is what we’re building today, and digital assistants like Wanda will provide the gateway to this intelligence. What is really exciting is that we are working with customers in verticals like higher education, professional services and not-for-profit sectors to co-develop custom self-driving functionality.
There is a lot more to do of course, and the pace of innovation is meteoric, but we are moving to a world where your ERP sees all and knows all about your business, and helps you to take the best decisions. How cool is that?
*Source: IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Intelligent ERP 2018 Predictions, doc # US43155917, October 2017.