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Self-driving ERP™ is the culmination of 5 big tech trends

Posted by  Robin Schaffer

In a recent report from Forrester Research, “Digital Innovation Reshapes the Future of Business Applications” [available to subscribers], analyst Paul Hamerman outlines his vision for business applications.  According to Hamerman, application strategies must include five key technology pillars to support business growth:

  1. Cloud/SaaS
  2. User experience
  3. Flexibility for change
  4. Embedded analytics
  5. Integration

At Unit4 we’re delighted to see this research that aligns so completely with our vision for self-driving ERP. Our approach is based on these pillars, and takes it further by blending them in such a way that results in the reimagining of ERP: making is self-driving.

Unit4 believes people in service-centric industries deserve better business software that helps them to work smarter. We do so by reducing complexity and manual tasks to an extent that people can focus better and act faster.

  • We believe in cloud, but more importantly in Cloud Your Way. Cloud-based applications eliminate roadblocks and departmental silos and encourage 24/7 collaboration. More and more businesses are moving their applications to the cloud to benefit from the ease of use, speed of deployment, and a regular and non-disruptive updating model. 

Unit4 and Microsoft have partnered to deliver cloud ERP on the Azure platform, ensuring our customers the robust, secure, and flexible environment needed to take full advantage of cloud benefits. At the same time, we ensure our customers are not confronted with the downsides such as data-residency, portability or data volume control for example.

  • We believe business software should have slick UIs, but even more that User Experience is about what’s happening within the UI rather than the UI itself. Great user experience leads to a high level of engagement of customers and employees, which in turn means the business is reaping the full benefits of the application. In service industries this is particularly important. According to Hamerman, “employees are key to the system of engagement layer of the business application strategy, which must provide a user experience that enables employees to progress in their careers and interact with the business processes that drive the company success.” 

And we take that even further: At Unit4 we believe that the best interface is sometimes no interface at all. A self-driving application takes charge of mundane tasks and engages the user only when needed for exceptions and decisions.

  • We believe a business can only be successful if it is supported to drive business change at speed they define. The biggest cost for business is ‘cost of latency’. Regular business change is a reality for people-centric businesses.  We strongly believe forward thinking organizations in the service industry need applications that can adapt to new realities without delays, without disruption and without the dependency on IT experts. “In a business technology application, the business owner can implement a new process, program, or organizational unit very quickly, often with minimal dependency on technology management resources,” says the report. 

Unit4 applications are built on the People Platform, a platform that’s architected in such a way that it’s easy for business users to adapt the system to changing business requirements such as growth and expansion, introduction of new business models, regulatory compliance or merging in acquired companies.

  • We believe the real impact of analytics is not realized in the usual management cockpits, but instead in situations where user interaction is minimized and limited to activities where people make the difference. Analytics are transforming business applications.  No longer do analytics require unique expertise; no longer are they a tool just for the management team, and no longer do they look only in the past. Today’s analytics are built into the heart of the business application, delivering value to every user every day. “By embedding analytics capabilities into business applications in real-time and in the context of a business process, the system of record becomes a system of insight.” 

Advanced analytics are the “driver” in Unit4’s self-driving ERP.  We are delivering practical use cases, such as predicting project timelines, costs, and profitability at the point of project creation – supporting the project manager to perform complex tasks faster (minutes instead of hours/days) and with higher impact for the business. We also use analytics to turn an erroneous process like Expense entry upside down by presenting the user a pre-filled Expense claim based on pattern recognition technology.  A simple “confirm” does the trick.

  • Integration has emerged as a critical concept in business applications. As more and more capabilities move to the cloud, organizations need simple and flexible connections that keep all of their vital business functions flowing smoothly. Unit4’s People Platform ensures this flow, both among Unit4’s portfolio and outside of it.   Our strategy also enables us to provide best-in-class capabilities, such as Unit4 Travel & Expenses, Consolidation or Cash Flow Planning on the edge of other core ERP platforms. 

Smart, re-imagined business applications fuel business growth. When these applications are self-driving, your people are freed from time-consuming tasks, empowered in-context with insight and available to focus on important and differentiating endeavors. Unit4 is delighted to have the opportunity to bring these 5 important pillars to life in our customers’ business environments.

Robin Schaffer

Robin Schaffer

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