Redefining the future of ERP – ERPx answers your ERP questions | Unit4
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Redefining the future of ERP – ERPx answers your ERP questions

from  February 16, 2022 | 4 min read

ERP’s reputation isn’t necessarily what we’d like it to be. It’s traditionally been considered 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? Let’s take a look at some of the FAQs facing those looking into the future direction of ERP:

What 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.

Are we moving towards a truly end-to-end ERP - and how is this an opportunity for ERPx?

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.

This 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 customers intimately. Understand their business needs and the needs of their users. Enable them to concentrate on their business purpose with an agile solution that flexes the changing environment and needs. A solution that is right for them now and for the future, all focused around three pillars – functionality designed for industries, user experience that fits the users, and the cloud platform to enable it all. We are delivering an individualized fit for customers at scale.

To fully understand what this means and what you need to consider when transforming your ERP in the cloud, take a look at our Top 5 considerations in moving to the cloud article. In it, we take you through understanding whether the cloud is right for you and how you will benefit. But we also look at what you need to do to make the process of moving as smooth as possible, so you can start seeing value from your investment sooner.

How can you leverage the potential of AI technologies for the future of ERP?

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. This leads us neatly to one of the core elements of ERPx’s design philosophy.

What does simplified customization and integration look like?

Customization and integration used to require a lot of bespoke coding – an undeniable 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.

How will ERP systems continue to evolve?

For us and the future of ERP, any evolution will involve pushing the boundaries of what Unit4 ERPx is capable of and how challenging it supports our customers.

Next on the horizon in this journey for ERPx will be an ever-greater application of automation at scale via ML and connecting this to other functions within applications. This will more easily identify patterns that help identify opportunities to grow, save, and innovate and help take much of the labor-intensive manual work out of activities like compliance and fraud detection. The future of ERP is bright, and we’re proud that ERPx is set to lead the way. We’re excited to announce general availability tomorrow!

Is cloud ERP better than on-premise systems? 

Another critical consideration for businesses trying to understand how ERPs are evolving is why it’s necessary to replace their existing on-premise solutions. Do cloud ERPs like Unit4 ERPx really offer something tangibly different?

The simple answer is yes. The difference in many respects is night and day. On-premise solutions are expensive to install, maintain and update, which is removed by cloud-enabled solutions. This, in turn, frees up your IT teams to focus on valuable tasks that matter. Cloud ERPs also enable greater collaboration, connecting people and systems around the world. So no matter where you are or what information you need, these ERPs make that possible. 

Then on top of all the system and solution benefits, you have the improved People Experiences they deliver. Real-time access, better UIs and more, help boost productivity and engagement across all business areas. 

But if you need more convincing, you can dig deeper into the benefits of cloud ERPs here.

Need more reasons why Unit4 ERPx is the future of ERP

Our EPRx solution lets you focus on People Experience, productivity and value simultaneously to help free your teams to do more of what matters. 

But that’s not all Unit4 has to offer. Make a bigger impact with people-centric solutions purpose-built with industry-leading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Human Capital Management (HCM), and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) solutions. You can find out more about how our complete People Experience suite can help you here.