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How microservices-based ERPs reduce time-to-value for service organizations

Posted by  Thomas Staven

Emerging technologies like microservices are enabling organizations to realize the value of ERP implementations at the speed of digital.

Emerging digital technologies like microservices are enabling people-centered service organizations to see the VALUE of software, like digital enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms, much faster than ever before.

The critical role of speed

Which is good news, because IT-driven business change is now the second most important priority among CEOs, according to Gartner, the highest ranking the industry analyst has ever seen for this metric.

And, for software vendors, speed plays a “critical role in creating competitive differentiation”, says Forbes, “and all bets for this race are on the leaders who prioritize an agenda that accelerates TTV.”

Horror stories

People-centered service organizations are under relentless pressure to find new ways of improving productivity, reducing administration costs and delivering better, faster frontline services to clients and beneficiaries, whether they are commercial customers and shareholders, students, donors or citizens.

These businesses also need flexible IT-driven business processes so they can react to change quickly. The best way to meet these demands, without a doubt, is through modern, digital technology.

But software implementations have a tarnished reputation; every executive has a horror story which features an extended TTV of the technology they are buying. Not surprisingly, many organizations are wary of making the leap to new software. (The problems are exacerbated if organizations still have monolithic, on-premises hardware stacks.)

‘Traditional’ has had its day

Luckily, this traditional monolithic hardware approach has had its day. Emerging digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are driving the design of ERPs to shorten TTV.

Modern, cloud ERPs are platforms with automated processes, pattern recognition and a single, organization-wide version of the truth; applications are seamlessly integrated across a common infrastructure with a common user interface.

They enhance user experience, reduce administration and improve decision-making, bringing greater value to the organization than traditional ERP. They bring that value to business much quicker. And the total cost of ownership is much lower.

How microservices shorten TTV

Likewise, microservices are revolutionizing ERPs to reduce TTV. The latest ERPs have microservices-based architectures, which means organizations can add as many loosely coupled, interoperable modular components (integrated applications) as they like, giving organizations almost unlimited extensibility.

This means improvements, system developments and the addition of new capabilities, services or apps can be made on the fly, at a reduced cost and much quicker. Updates and upgrades can be carried out remotely, in real time and even automatically. Product releases can reach the organization instantly and be issued more regularly.

The ‘click-no-code’ environment in these modern ERP platforms allows configurations to be made and apps to be created locally with almost no training, and zero IT expertise — or cost — required.

Automated processes and in-built reporting and analytics capabilities powered by AI and ML provide real-time, organization-wide insight, not just into the organization’s data, but into the system performance, too.

Microservices-based architectures also make it easier for vendors to provide versions for vertical industries with good practice to be built in, with pre-defined templates and reporting for transparency and regulations compliance. (In Unit4’s case our ERP is available for four industries: professional services organizations, higher education institutions, nonprofits and public services bodies.)

All this reduces implementation time astronomically and helps to ensure the project’s success in order to shorten TTV. More than that, it reduces the ongoing total cost of ownership and enables organizations to become more flexible.

No crystal ball, but shorter TTV helps

No organization can predict the adaptations they’ll need to make in response to changes in future customer demand. And today’s business climate is perhaps more unstable than ever before.

Everything as a Service (XaaS) has heightened expectations and reduced loyalty from customers while increasing competition from new entrants with new business models. Regulation is happening at the speed of digital, the battle for talent is getting harder to win and emerging technologies are ubiquitous.

In this environment, remaining agile to change and reducing costs is non-negotiable for success. Extracting enhanced value from software implementation, and much faster than in the past, is crucial to overcoming all these challenges.

Thanks to microservices-based architectures, today’s ERPs are extensible, configurable, remotely updateable and tailored to specific industries. And they meet the needs of people-centered service organizations going through digital transformation.

Isn’t it time to rewrite the TTV horror stories?

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Thomas Staven

Thomas is passionately dedicated to technology innovation, delivering great experiences and business value to customers and has spent the last 17 years within R&D, Product Management and Global Sales at Unit4 driving our focus on delivering innovative enterprise solutions. Thomas now heads the Unit4 ERP / Unit4 Business World CoE and is also working closely with the Unit4 Innovation Lab as Product Strategist – all to deliver the next generation ERP and bring innovative technologies – such as machine learning, AI, chat bots etc. – to the world of Enterprise Applications.