The evolution of ERP: Thinking beyond AI

  • Posted on May 15, 2024
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
evolution of erp

In my previous blog post, we discussed the importance of the core fundamentals of ERP, and the evolution of AI-led ERP. In summary, don’t forget the foundations as you explore the new world of AI opportunities. Added to that, the world of ERP is evolving beyond AI and leading organizations understand how other aspects are equally important to the evolution of ERP.

Agility in delivery
With businesses become more complex every day, there is a clear ask for greater delivery agility, bringing value to market faster. Who can afford to spend one or two years implementing a new business application while business is changing every day? And why would we have to spend months on an application that should be readily available? As ERP System Integrators we can learn from the pace of implementation of CRM systems and other edge applications, but not without a solid delivery basis to innovate on. It’s also worth noting that (gen) AI infused delivery will accelerate time to market, combined with smarter and more agile delivery approaches that provide early value without underestimating the need for a consolidated view of related business processes. It will help bring standard ERP solutions to life in months instead of years, building on standardized cross industry solutions without compromising on the core processes that differentiate you from competitors – something we refer to as last mile support.

Serving the last mile with a standardized Dynamics 365 solution
In almost every initial meeting with a client looking for a new implementation, we’re told “we will stick to the standard and not allow for any customizations.” A couple of months later the narrative changes – “we need to fill the 800 gaps we’ve identified in the standard solution please, if possible, today!”

Most companies aim for a standardized solution and, quite rightly, see a risk in complex customizations of any system, also driven by the ease of out of the box store-based apps for any device. At the same time however, companies need to differentiate in increasingly competitive markets, and therefore end up realizing that the software needs to be adapted to their unique needs.

Can these two contradictions go together? They can, by focusing on business value first instead of perceived gaps, by combining deep industry knowledge with generalists that bring experience from other industries to your company (you may not be as unique as you think and in many cases, your problems have been solved in other industries already) and by leveraging ISV solutions and unique industry assets that close the common gaps between commonality and disruptive uniqueness. It’s this blend of knowledge and tools that ensure success from ERP, rather than despite it. And this mix has one more critical dimension; the right balance in bringing all processes to one single solution versus leveraging the best application for the best process without losing a connect in the business. A team of good players is always better than having a single star.

A team of integrated (ERP) applications
Will you continue to invest in that behemoth of an on-premise business application? Will you leverage that one well recognized specialty application that might be difficult to integrate? Will you implement one system across all your departments and regions, or do you want to have flexibility in adopting the right tool in the right place at the right pace for the best value?

While time to market must be faster and we try to stick to a common standard, we must recognize that the landscapes we operate in are becoming increasingly complex. We recommend bringing all data together in order to leverage the best of AI while using dedicated smaller applications to serve specific teams. This approach does, however, depend on software that is open minded and easy to integrate with. It also requires a mix of skills between enterprise architects, business application experts and data and integration specialists, complemented by the right team of business and industry advisors. In addition, global reach combined with local access for cultural and regulatory knowledge is vital. In today’s world, which mid-sized or large company is not global?

Who’s not global nowadays?
Global reach has been growing for decades and a small minority or larger organizations only operate in one market. The last few years have proven that knowledge can come from anywhere (time zone permitting) and although differences exist across different countries (as well as similarities), the internet enables us to still serve the world as one large market. A global reach requires globally capable software and solutions, to harmonize where possible and specialize where needed, keeping not only local legislation, but also local culture in mind. Leveraging a worldwide network of partners, localizations where needed and geographical proximity to users is key to making global reach a success.

So it is: The end of ERP as we know it, but..
We are now seeing a new era of ERP that can only exist when we continue to invest in the fundamentals of our solutions. ERP will become AI driven, faster to implement, with a fine balance of commonality and differentiation where needed. ERP will cease to be isolated, becoming one of many solutions as it becomes part of a global network of integrated applications suited for local needs. This new era will change how we as system integrators work, as well as how your organization leverages ERP, but one thing will remain unchanged: the need for high level people and skills. As we go forward, we can help your people to evolve, become more effective and add value in new ways – the integration of AI should not be focused on replacing people, but on helping them to create greater value for your business. And ERP will continue to evolve at the same time, but one thing is certain - there will be no world without ERP anytime soon.

Is your company ready to join the (r)evolution? Contact us today to discover how we can help to take your business forward in this exciting new era of AI led ERP.

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