What are the advanced uses of ERP software?
Coming from part one of our “back to the basics” ERP blog series? Hopefully you’re fired up about the prospect of having a system that can act as a gatekeeper for you, taking in data and information from all corners of your business and bundling it up as an arsenal designed for easy execution from the captain’s bridge.
If you just pictured Kirk and Spock pioneering the final frontier from the helm of the USS Enterprise with the touch of a button—well, same—but it’s also a fair analogy of how the right ERP system for your business can work, if it’s executed the right way.
Even if you already have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, you might not feel like Spock if you’re not using all its features. While step one is migrating your company to the best software suited for your business, step two is using it to it’s full potential.
So, what exactly can your ERP system do for you? The short answer is a heck of a lot, but we’ve outlined some of the biggest features you’ll want to take advantage of.
Data, data, data
If you have accurate data across your business functions, you can create an accurate narrative about how various departments are performing—what works, areas that need attention or change. Without accurate data, your decision making is blind, and at best, an educated guess.
Even more beneficial is real-time data delivery. Not only is your system fostering good data, it can give you an up-to-date picture anytime you want it. No wonder successful companies are always praising “data, data, data!”
Collaborate with customers
Modern ERP systems have all the bells and whistles to support customer care—after all, happy customers are likely at the core of what you do. These systems are armed with several consumer-facing functions including applications like warranty management, as well as applications that indirectly benefit consumers by way of better customer care like field service support.
You may also be familiar with customer relationship management (CRM) systems. These systems manage your company’s actual interaction with current and potential clients. And—surprise, surprise—it can work hand-in-glove with your ERP system when done correctly. Information on transactions, deliveries, contact details, credit history, customer service requests, order status, quotes and more are all at the fingertips of sales, accounting and any other pertinent business department.
The Internet of Things
IoT stands for the Internet of Things. It’s essentially any device that collects and transmits data via the internet—vague, we know. But these are things in your everyday life, computers and cellphones yes, but also step and sleep trackers, cars, home devices, ATMs, etc.
According to Forbes:
- By 2008 there were already more objects connected to the internet than people
- By 2020, 250 thousand vehicles will be connected to the internet
- The global wearable device market grew 223 percent in 2015 (think Fitbit and Apple Watch)
- IoT could add $10-$15 trillion to the global GDP in the next 20 years by some estimates
This matters to companies. Why? Well as Forbes points out, having a connected kitchen could save the food and beverage industry as much as 15 percent annually and companies like John Deere are already capitalizing on that with new technology like FarmSite. Yep, your favorite tractor company is also at the forefront of farming insights that weren’t possible a decade ago. The game is changing, industry barriers are melting, and growth possibilities are unconventional and endless.
And why is this relevant to your ERP system? Well like CRM, the IoT can play very nicely with your ERP solution. The management tools and capabilities that come to mind when you think ERP can be applicable to your new IoT endeavor. It’s like if Kirk and Spock happened upon a super-advanced alien spaceship. They get to the ship’s control bridge and are pleasantly surprised to find that the same system driving the USS Enterprise can also be used to control the reins of this new behemoth.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Paging Will Smith! The movie I, Robot warned us about this… kind of. Artificial Intelligence (AI), or machine intelligence, is here. But thankfully robots aren’t exactly invading the world, though it might depend on who you ask. Machines are, however, helping businesses in big ways. Take data for instance, some companies have so much data that a human being could never sift through a fraction of it in their career. AI can do it in an instant. Or “deep learning” algorithms for things like fraud detection—AI can do that too.
If your ERP system is rooted in AI you’re looking at an unbelievably powerful asset that no human could ever compete with. With AI, routine processes are automated, the user experience is better, risks decrease, insights increase, and the endless possibilities of what AI can do in the future for your company can be built upon your existing system.
For example, if you run your ERP in the cloud and an AI update comes along, you can easily begin to take advantage of those new features with the click a button—not the complete system migration and overhaul you’d be looking at if you’re running an outdated ERP system or no ERP system at all.
AI, IoT, customer-centric functionality and usable data just scratch the surface of what your ERP system can do. It's also important to note that not all ERP solutions are created equal. Industry-specific ERP solutions that start servicing your needs right out-of-the-box do exist, saving you from the "one size fits all" mold and complete customization which can be costly.
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