Redefining the future of ERP – ERPx is here!
ERP’s reputation isn’t necessarily what we’d like it to be. It’s traditionally been considered something of a monolith – a big system that performs vital functions, but which is best left alone.
At Unit4, we’ve set out to change that. Our recently launched ERPx platform has been hailed as the most modern ERP solution on the market. But why? What exactly is it that makes ERPx different? And what exactly is it that we’re doing that’s allowed us to reach this point of departure from the norm?
Trends in technology are driving us towards customization as standard
As our Chief Product Officer Dmitri Krakovsky says, there’s a deep trend occurring in technology today. A trend towards “big customization” – or as he puts it, products that “fit out of the box, but are delivered at scale.” This trend is impacting everything from bespoke tailoring to orthodontics, protective headgear, and – most importantly for us – enterprise software.
Technology – whether it’s 3D printing or machine learning – is what’s enabling these innovations. And these innovations take the form of things we’ve wished were available to us all along.
It presents a unique opportunity for the traditionally monolithic ERP platform especially – and gives us a great opportunity to make a change. Traditionally, an ERP system was one system, around which dozens or even hundreds of different systems had to be orchestrated to allow for data input. Creating a user experience and technology stack that felt disjointed and often confusing.
The opportunity for ERPx – moving towards a truly end-to-end ERP
ERPx represents the logical evolution of both ERP and user experience in enterprise software. It’s an opportunity generated both by technology, and a change to how we perceive user experience.
In the past, user experience has generally been created from a “top down” perspective. The user journey is mapped, re-mapped, and architected extensively. Mechanisms are thought and rethought through beta testing and real-world interactions. Small, incremental improvements were made over time.
Which is all very well, but most users of most software platforms never even notice them. This isn’t because they’re not doing their job, it’s because most users are light users. They use platforms for only one or two functions, or they use them so infrequently that they neither come into contact with our innovations, nor care much about them.
We’re delivering to our customers what our competitors do not offer – a product that is right for their business, straight out of the box. To do this we must understand our customer intimately. Understand their business needs and the needs of their users. Enable them to concentrate on their business purpose, with a solution that is agile and can flex with the changing environment and their needs. A solution that is right for them now, and for the future focused around 3 pillars – functionality designed for industries, user experience that fits the users, and the cloud platform to enable it all. We are delivering individualized fit for customers, at scale.
Leveraging the potential of AI technologies
The other factor making this possible is the rapid rise of AI technologies specifically machine learning. These technologies allow for unprecedented levels of automation across the more tedious and transactional elements of the ERP system. Human assistance in terms of data entry and review can be automated out, so humans can focus on the work that only humans can do.
This level of automation allows a platform like ERPx to present tasks as micro-experiences wherever user intervention is needed, without them having to personally interact with the nuts-and-bolts of the system to call up information. Which leads us neatly to one of the core elements of the ERPx’s design philosophy.
Simplified customization and integration
Customization and integration used to require a lot of bespoke coding – a very obvious source of non-hidden complexity. Getting around this complexity has been an unsolved problem for a long time – not just in user experience, but in software architecture in general.
Connecting systems in a way that makes sense is (or better: was) a big challenge. A PSO might manage HCM in one system, but then manage ongoing projects in another system, making allocating resources difficult - especially since data on relevant skills and actual communication and workflow all happen in yet more systems. All of which operate in relative isolation from each other. Getting these systems to talk to each other requires complex middleware and programmer assistance.
ERPx provides a solution to this problem by enabling true enterprise mesh (backed once again by modular design and automation) with low- and no-code capabilities. An innovation that’s been driving simplicity in many areas in recent years. It allows users to easily make meaningful changes and adaptations to functionality as their needs change –for faster evolution of processes.
This is an especially exciting development for us at Unit4, where we value innovation as highly as we value the people who provide it. We run an annual innovation event where everyone’s invited to help us identify and exploit opportunities. We’re always looking for opportunities, and now our customers are able to look for them and action them too. ERPx will drive the trend towards the democratization of ERP and IT at large.
Next on the horizon for ERPx will be an ever-greater application of automation at scale via ML and connecting this to other functions within applications to more easily identify patterns that help not only identify opportunities to grow, save, and innovate, but which also help take much of the labor-intensive manual work out of activities like compliance and fraud detection. The future’s bright for ERP, and we’re proud that ERPx is set to lead the way. We’re excited to announce general availability tomorrow!