Flexibility and industry specificity are top ERP trends for 2022 | Unit4
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Flexibility and industry specificity are top ERP trends for 2022

A recent report mentions Unit4 as it rounds up the views of ERP experts – and finds that flexibility and industry specificity are key for 2022.

As the CIO of a professional services organization (PSO), if you can adapt your ERP on the fly, then you’re a step closer to meeting your all-important business goals: meeting client requirements and improving your People Experience.

The good news is that flexibility like this is the future of the ERP market, according to experts quoted by TechTarget.com. The article quotes Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, who says, “industry specificity is an ERP trend that will continue into 2022” and adds that it’s being driven by industry heavyweights and smaller vendors like Unit4.

Greenbaum says that all ERP vendors are working hard to combine the fit-to-standard characteristics of SaaS ERP systems with the deep functionality for specific industries: "This is something that customers really want and that's why all these vendors have their industry clouds and companies like Unit4 are focusing on their core customer offerings in their core industries. It's becoming a real important part of the maturation of enterprise software in the cloud."

As part of a swing toward “less monolithic” ERP systems in 2022, the article notes flexibility trends which are vital to cloud ERP buyers. Two of the most important are “industry specificity” and “composable ERP”, so let’s consider both.

An ERP that’s relevant to your industry

In a technology market aimed at improving customer experience, the importance of industry specificity should come as no surprise. In the PSO sector, it’s critical. At Unit4, we focus on service industries whose needs are different from those served by some ERPs. These include management, IT and software consultancies, and architectural, engineering, and construction firms­. That’s why our core solutions include a strong focus on people — to help improve the People Experience.

As part of our cloud-based solution, ERPx ­– which combines PSO industry experience with the agility of the cloud – we’ve announced innovations which sharpen that focus further. Industry Mesh is a multi-tenant cloud service which delivers integrations with an ecosystem of relevant apps and data sources. This helps to develop the data flows you need, again focused on your industry.

Composable ERP

Another trend is composable ERP, and it’s one we’ve been working on for a while. Indeed, this time last year we reported how analysts from Nucleus Research had highlighted the next-generation capabilities of ERPx in this area.

The idea, as CIOs will be aware, is that professionals can themselves use low-code and no-code features to create the IT they really want – to help adapt the solution to the needs of the business.

In that scenario, you don’t have to adapt to the technology demands of the ERP; instead, your ERP becomes adaptable to you, and could even reduce pressure on the IT team. Indeed, as a PSO or project-focused business, you may be particularly suited to the ability to create microservices in this way, because your business is already built around the capabilities and insights of your people.

To meet changing needs, Unit4 also offers AI-powered automation and machine learning, which can help your people work smarter and faster. Again, PSOs may be well placed to make practical use of these technologies, because the combination of human insights and AI-powered data-crunching can be a powerful one.

What a flexible ERP means

So, what are the business benefits of this more flexible and nimble approach to IT, from the point of view of a PSO? That depends on your needs, but here are three ways it can help you:

1. Responding with confidence to business change

As many firms will be aware from their business, the global mergers and acquisitions sector has been lively, and when it affects you directly this can drive IT transformation. But even those unaffected by M&A are adapting to trends such as hybrid working, digital transformation, decarbonization, and the effects of Covid-19 – not to mention rising inflation associated with increasing energy costs and wage demands.

In the IT team, these changes point to the need for rapid flexibility. As part of this, you could face demands to track changing metrics, to forecast the future in different ways, or to accelerate digitalization. All of this could potentially happen at short notice. If your ERP is adapted to the needs of your people-based organization and can be customized easily with microservices, that’s a win-win.

2. Putting people first

In the professional services sector, it’s vital to get the most from your talented people – but of course, fee-earning professionals aren’t just business units who can be redeployed at a moment’s notice, especially if they’re partners in the business. So, a flexible, industry-relevant ERP solution can enable you to understand sentiment and engagement – as well as reduce repetitive, manual tasks – helping you improve the experience of your people for the benefit of your business and customers.

3. Managing risk

As recent times have shown, businesses need to be able to manage risk effectively – whether that’s financial risk, regulatory risk, or simply the risk of being unable to respond to disruption.

As a CIO, you could face a need to track and provide financial or non-financial data for compliance reasons; but ultimately you might also need to reduce the business risk of being stuck with inflexible, legacy IT.

A cloud-based ERP can mean less time planning upgrades and more time supporting the business and clients – and it could also offer the ability to benefit from software innovations as they are rolled out, helping you to stay on top of technology change.

So, if you’re interested in the benefits of an ERP, consider a flexible, composable solution that’s purpose-built for your industry – with cloud-based, next-generation features to help you meet today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges.

Why are experts predicting flexibility is a top ERP trend in 2022?

For expert views on ERP flexibility in 2022, read TechTarget’s article, Experts predict flexibility as a top trend in 2022.