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Ten professional services technology predictions for 2019 (part 2)

Posted by  Henk Onstwedder

In the second and final article of our two-part series we look at the powerful new capabilities of today’s ERP solutions and how loosely coupled microservices will replace monolithic stacks to help people-centered organizations bill with precision, gain foresight and improve data governance.

In part one of this article series we predicted that modern, cloud-based ERP solutions will help people-centered organizations win more business, find data insights, help solve the talent puzzle and create space for meaningful work, while executing profitable projects. Here are the second five of our 10 technology predictions for 2019.

6. Loosely coupled microservices will replace monolithic stacks

As we witness the ongoing metamorphosis of IT and its convergence with digital throughout this year, PSOs will find it harder to hold on to outdated, monolithic stacks, with their inflexible processes and separate legacy systems. It will be tough, but vital if they want to respond to the challenges in the services sector around competition, client expectations and legislation changes.

XaaS has radically changed organizational approach to digital transformation. Characterized by lower barriers to entry, increased subscription usage and location independence, XaaS offers a lower-risk environment for more short-term digital experimentation in line with the ‘land and expand’ concept. So, this year we will see more and more people-centered organizations develop technology in an iterative, agile way.

The reason is simple: platforms have finally come of age; interoperability and loosely coupled microservices afford agile extensibility and aid rapid scaling, change and growth. As such, in parallel with the digital transformation of organizations, we will see an equally rapid transformation, or we could say ‘rebranding,’ of traditional IT departments.

7. Ubiquitous digital will help PS organizations bill with precision

As we move through 2019, more PSOs will gain greater financial visibility, predictability and stability because the tools have finally arrived which are needed to gather and analyze data in smarter, more efficient way. This ‘smarter’ way — which will characterize 2019 and beyond as it becomes the norm — is based on the use of ubiquitous emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to streamline more back-office processes.

By automating elements like data capture and invoicing within an integrated system, people-centric organizations will be able to shorten their sales-to-cash cycles and avoid payment delays (and billing disputes) to improve cashflow. By having real-time visibility over accurate, up-to-date data from within a single solution — a single system of record — finance staff everywhere will find it easier to track profits, analyze data and prepare cashflows and budgets to bill with precision.

8. More PSOs will gain foresight through technology

The real-time visibility and analysis delivered by this year’s ERPs will transform decision-making from reactive and tactical to strategic and proactive. With powerful, intelligent software tools, planning is no longer a dreaded, once-a-year, laborious process. For leading PSOs it has already become a fluid, collaborative, all-year-long process that facilitates input and cooperation across all functions and levels.

With the right tools this year, managers at all levels across all PSO industries will become empowered to analyze business performance, conduct their own root cause analysis and take immediate action before it is too late. These days, user displays and role-based dashboards are intuitive and easy-to-use; with all data in a single system, your operations and finance teams can keep tabs on all project KPIs at any time from anywhere.

9. Improved data governance, accountability and compliance

GDPR and the global data privacy governance legislation has helped all PSOs improve how they manage data. True, European and global legislation highlighted the cost of poor-quality, mis-managed data (every services sector is guilty here as the tools weren’t readily available enough to correct it). But GDPR and other data legislation also pathed the way for PSOs to take advantage of emerging technologies and capabilities.

Which is a good thing, because, it turns out that the systems needed to attain robust data governance also help overcome other challenges in the professional services sector. ERP, based on a platform with a single architecture and a common user interface across an integrated system, keeps all data visible and up-to-date. Dashboards and reporting tools improve transparency and accountability. Finally, with the right system, industry templates and other configurations specific to sectors are available out-of-the-box.

10. ERP will bring powerful new capabilities

This year’s cloud-based ERPs are agile, scalable, integrated solutions built on platforms that deliver interoperability and extensibility. They are designed for people-centered organizations on a digital transformation journey. As such, they will integrate seamlessly with third party solutions for professional services automation, customer relationship management, corporate performance management and business intelligence, ensuring data is accessible and easily understandable through dashboards in real time. 

The microservices-driven architectures of these platforms allow all services organizations to harness the power of emerging technologies like AI, machine learning and natural language as and when needed and with rapid time to value. The systems are configurable locally, with almost zero technology know-how needed, thanks to low/no-code environments. And they create space for staff by enabling automation and management by exception, allowing almost any medium-sized PS organization to compete with The Best in the world.

Is it time to investigate cloud ERP?

Modern ERP solutions are barely recognizable compared to the earliest versions designed and built in the Nineties for manufacturers. Today’s ERPs are not only designed for people-centered organizations, but built from scratch and tailored for individual industries. If your organization is yet to benefit from these new capabilities, maybe now is the time to investigate them further.

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Henk Onstwedder

Henk Onstwedder is Global VP at Unit4 focusing on the Not for Profit and Public Services industries. He is responsible for building Unit4’s value proposition, creating and delivering on industry product roadmaps, developing the ecosystem, and leading strategic sales engagements.

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