It’s not easy to predict the direction an industry may take some six years from now, but Eric Kimberling, founder and managing partner of Panorama Consulting Solutions and a recognized independent ERP systems expert, has provided some key insights that will sure get people talking. Here is an excerpt of what Eric had to say.
1. Consumerization of ERP systems
As new generations of employees continue to enter the workforce, we will likely see more consumerization of ERP systems to accommodate these new workers. Imagine being a 20-something who grew up with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, then being told that you are expected to learn an archaic AS-400 based, green screen ERP system – it simply isn’t going to happen. Companies that haven’t already shifted away from these types of systems will be under increased pressure to do so, and ERP vendors that still develop and support outdated user interfaces and functionality will be under even more pressure to create user-friendly and intuitive software solutions that more closely resemble consumer technologies.
2. Mobility will become mainstream
Many industry analysts like to talk about SaaS and the cloud – both of which will also likely continue to see increased adoption in coming years, but mobility will be the primary technological reality in 2020. Management, back office employees, shop floor workers, warehouse clerks and others within most enterprises will use mobile devices to access enterprise data – just as much or more so than traditional desktop access. Part of this continued trend will be due to the fact that more employees regularly use mobile devices in their personal lives and will inevitably use them to access ERP software for work if they are able to, but the other reason is more of a reflection of where the workforce is headed: more part-time, mobile and contract employees will further necessitate the need for mobile ERP software.
3. Increasing focus on business intelligence and data
This trend is already gaining much momentum, but the business intelligence movement will continue to accelerate in coming years. After years of capturing reams of transactional and strategic data throughout their enterprises via their ERP software, organizations will continue to pivot their focus to how to make sense of this data and turn it into a strategic advantage. And simple reporting won’t hack it – enterprises will demand more robust and intelligent ways to make use of this information.
4. Fragmentation of ERP software
We are already seeing an uptick in clients that are not necessarily looking for full-blow ERP software, but are instead looking for low-hanging fruit associated with point solutions such as warehouse management systems, customer relationship management systems and/or human capital management systems. Part of this is due to a natural tendency for the organizational pendulum to naturally swing back and forth between single ERP software systems and multiple point solutions, as illustrated in the graphic below. The other driver is that implementing a CRM, HCM or WMS system can be lower cost, lower risk and deliver business benefits in a shorter timeframe than a full ERP system, so more companies are opting for this path of less resistance.
5. Organizations will finally crack the code on organizational change management
Ever since we started publishing our annual ERP Report back in 2007, organizational change management has always been one of the biggest challenges identified by companies across the globe that had recently implemented new ERP systems. However, our 2014 ERP Report was the first time that organizational change management and training issues were identified as the hands-down top reason why projects were delayed and/or ran over budget. This suggests a trend toward a focus on these important issues. To add further credibility to this argument, one only needs to consider that ERP systems will someday reach a point of diminishing return in terms of technological bells and whistles – meaning that “softer” issues such as organizational change management will become the primary differentiators between companies that succeed in their ERP implementations versus the ones that fail.
What trends do you see shaping the ERP industry in the years to come? Share your thoughts with us.