The growing market for ERP systems does not seem to slow down at all. And why would it? Enterprises stand to gain both in terms of lower costs as well as operating at a higher profit margin, and combining that with freeing up resources with regards to employee efficiency and lowered costs for securing multiple systems, there’s good reason for the explosive interest in ERP applications we’ve been seeing in 2016 and onwards.
Instead of having separate systems and databases for accounting, stock and inventory, human resources, customer relation management, marketing channels and maintenance protocols, businesses and enterprises the world over is looking to consolidate all their assets into one easy-to-use oracle of an application.
So how and why is this such a popular approach?
First off, the simplicity alone makes such a transition worthwhile in and of itself in most cases, just imagine having 10 different sets of data open and cross-referencing data through those. Now imagine that some of these 10 data sets are Excel spreadsheets, other SQL databases, and other raw JSON data, even more complex.
For this reason alone managers are thrilled at the idea of having all data available in a single system, and with advanced user level controls, it’s possible to onboard every type of user into the single system. Both managers, CEO’s and regular employees use the same system to log in, but their views differ depending on their roles. Even customers can have a login through the common interface, complete with their data and preferences preloaded.
Internally, today there are many repetitive data entries such as entering customer data in both the CRM and inventory management systems for instance. While this might not take more than a few minutes extra per set of data, maintaining and keeping all records up to date and identical can quickly become a logistical nightmare.
And building on this, there’s the growing concern of enterprise level security measures. This means that for businesses running 10 different databases, there needs to be 10 different security systems in place, and they need to be updated each time a critical bug is found in either system, not to mention updating user roles and access when employees join or leave.
So to summarize, enterprise applications cut down costs on all segments of the business, from managing data, to securing it – and with added features such as machine learning, it’s even possible to improve workflows and processes automatically.
Not every business stands to gain from consolidating all their data and stats into a single data set. Still, considering the possibility of adding machine learning / artificial intelligence to crunch the numbers in the system it’s possible to have a computer automate decisions and provide predictions and recommendations based on real-time statistics.
It’s even possible to make sure that information is shared correctly between relevant and respective parties and individuals, by assigning ML training sets to incorporate common workflows. Just as we know from email clients, if we write the word “attachment”, some services such as Gmail will ask if we forgot to attach a file, this is the same principle, only applied universally across a system, with the added benefit of recognizing names and context.
The third way
But regardless of the business use for machine learning or AI, it’s of vital importance that all data collected is accessible from a single point of entry at one point or another. A hybrid solution is emerging as a very fine alternative to the more expensive and exhaustive option of scrapping all third party solutions in favor of a custom system. This new hybrid solution aims to keep the existing systems alive and running, and instead focuses efforts on gathering all data from the various API’s and systems used in the organisation.
This new hybrid system then acts as a buffer, and a relay for the information flow – and thus any AI or database goes through this system, which is heavily secured and regularly updated for the best results. And almost all businesses having implemented this system and following mobile governance strategies have plans in place for out-phasing the third party systems one by one, slowly but surely consolidating all software platforms and systems into their own custom solutions.