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Insights Of The ERP Arena

by Lyle Ekdahl, SVP & GM, JD Edwards, Oracle March-2018

Potential of Cloud ERP

Cloud computing has overwhelming benefits for business agility through rapid provisioning of technology infrastructure, and equally rapid deployment of new applications that can drastically compress the cycles and reduce the capital expenditures associated with the digitization of business. With cloud, you go from white board ideas to proof-of concept to operations at scale with less capital investment and time. For your strategic Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) investments, you must have a complete picture of available cloud layers- IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Where would you like to ultimately land? What does the journey toward realizing the benefits of cloud involve?

We deliver value along two complementary vectors. First are tools to modernize the data center operations associated with ERP quickly addressing areas such as proof of concept, dev/test, and production workloads on the cloud. Second and the most exciting is the potential to reimagine business with the ability to employ new digitized business functionality and processes.

In the past, there was a push to make every process best practice, and to run the  same out-of-the-box ERP. Now we embrace best practices that enable rapid flexibility to provide differentiation to the business. The ERP platform encompasses unifying core principles that need to be there, and we believe it needs to support the inclusion of micro services or cloud-based offerings through platform extensibility. This is the equation that maximizes the benefit and the value to customers.

Harnessing Business Intelligence and Analytics

Business intelligence and analytics features are becoming standard functions in ERP systems. Initially, deployment challenges were about philosophy and technical operational approaches to capturing, storing, modeling, and interfacing data. 

Today, the question is how the massive amounts of data we capture and store can be used to their full benefit inside of the ERP process flow. Can we make a form with "realtim" big data analytics accessible to all potential users as they perform daily tasks, while reducing human interaction with the system to exceptions? How do we support that with a view into the data that is rich yet readily understandable? 

There is a growing need for deep analytics and data science. But we are also increasingly seeing that the big data and analytic function can and should be operationalized by contextually targeting the right data set to a user's persona, their location, and the business process to facilitate improved business performance at the point of process.

The good news is that this evolution is gaining momentum due to a maturing set of technologies within ERP.

Foraying Deeper with Innovation

We can facilitate broader use of ERP through cloud computing, a new UX, and technologies that take ERP from being a tool of the back-office power user to becoming a platform that supports a fabric of digital interaction among employees, the value chain, all "resources", as well as the products or services that the company delivers.

Organizations are still not leveraging resource interactions to their advantage. Many users "write things down" in the context of business transactions; then transfer that paper to someone else, or manually input the information later. This process is error prone, inefficient, and often too slow for strategic decision-making. This approach limits the ability of the business to become a data-driven, digital enterprise.

Today, we are at an inflection point where we have new and mature technologies that can facilitate digitization of information. ERP now enables innovation by being the heart of a truly digital business.

The Road Ahead

Mobility connects your employees in any location with your company's ERP backbone. It is essential to take ERP beyond the back office to the actual point of the business process with light weight solutions on any mobile device with an intuitive User Interface (UI) to simplify user interactions.

Internet of Things (IoT) opens up ERP to its largest user community extending digital connections beyond people to resources- nodes of places and devices. Machineto- machine process digitization leads to real-time and more frequent data capture with improved data accuracy.

Moving from reactive to proactive process management gets users' hands off the keyboard, allowing machines to drive commodity processes while human users focus on exceptions augmented by data visualization.

Wearables provide heads-up, hands-free engagement that keeps employees connected and productive in the midst of operational tasks.
Cognitive and learning technologies process natural language inputs and inquiries, and develop and communicate insights based on unstructured and structured data.

Role of CIOs

Modern technology enables us to do more than support a legacy business as it was configured decades ago. It allows us to become catalysts to business reinvention. This is not about technology for technology's sake- business core values can now be shaped and defined by technology. If you do not view data and information as king, you put your business at a disadvantage. The CIO has a unique opportunity today to not only provide a vision for business but also provide predictive analytics to lead the way in a rapidly changing and unknown future. You should not shy from this role- grab the opportunity. The ultimate success of the business depends on it.

Ushering in Affordability

You have more control over the costs associated with ERP today as well as degrees of freedom. Use the approaches and technologies we have to categorize, reposition, defer, and manage costs. A simple use case involves taking your ERP associated dev/test environments to the cloud. Leveraging the cloud's agility and elasticity gives you profound control over your cost structure. You still need to look at what you are trying to accomplish with ERP and associated technologies as a strategic investment. Engaging in a pure cost avoidance strategy can leave you behind your competition as other businesses embrace digital transformation. The answer lies in the unique choices you make to map technology to your unique business strategy and vision.

Augmenting Value 

Pay attention to the outcome customers want. Align ERP with digital technologies that support a customer's experience beyond the support of internal processes and productivity. Customers want a solid ERP core, but also need to be empowered to flex for their business. An ERP platform creates extensibility from the back-end operations to the glass. We deliver a modern platform and provide a foundation for personalization, coexistence, and integration to the cloud. These choices multiply the options our customers have for sourcing, deploying, managing, configuring, and using ERP. Companies derive more value from their ERP implementations as they increase their digital footprints, enable smarter agile business processes, and adjust and react in real time to meet the expectations of their customers.