5 ERP Trends for 2020 and Beyond
The apparel industry is continually changing and shifting. As consumers take on new mindsets and shopping culture adapts, businesses need to find ways to keep up. Every time there is a disruption, innovation brings in new technology to change the industry’s landscape. These shifts create trends in how companies use hardware and software to their advantage, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is at the forefront of modern needs.
At its base functionality, ERP integrates all the essential processes in your business in one system. You’ll be able to keep up with a demanding consumer base and manage operations on a single organized database. But, as it is becoming an industry standard, new trends are emerging involving the use of new ERP systems. This guide will take you through some of the top trends and provide you with a forecast for the future of ERP.
Fostering Growth Through ERP
Fostering efficient growth is an increasingly important goal for companies across various industries. Many companies believe that the most effective way to encourage growth is by cutting costs. While doing so is an important part of the process, it isn’t enough on its own, and only focusing on that will keep you from achieving your objective. You have to make investments in your future, which is why it’s crucial to pay attention to industry and technology trends.
Investing in infrastructure is one of the best paths to efficient growth. The organizational structure of your company is the foundation for success and future growth, so it has to be consistently strong. The way you manage your business through hardware and software is a significant part of that foundation, making ERP an important tool. And it’s not only ERP that’s important to management — cloud-hosted and omnichannel software setups are just as essential.
By creating a management system that connects all of your teams, you’ll be able to make the most of your time and reach new levels of company-wide efficiency. Consolidated data, user-friendly dashboards, automatic updates and accurate analysis will all make it easier to improve and grow.
Here are some of the current ERP trends to watch:
1. Mobile ERP
Now more than ever, people are using their mobile devices to do business and access websites. With the shift towards mobile, more people are taking their work out of the office and into coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and their homes. Mobile devices provide constant access to information and offer an oppurtunity to expand your reach as a company.
Today’s workforce expects a higher level of mobile offerings and connectivity, meaning there’s a strong push for app versions of large-scale company software. Mobile applications provide executives, managers, analysts and employees with a real-time view of pertinent company information and make communicating with customers easier from any location.
With ERP mobile apps, you gain a variety of helpful functions, such as the ability to send out push notifications, keep track of orders and expenses, review and approve employee time and create events on a calendar. Other apps may be dedicated to single functions, such as improving customer relations or managing sales orders. Regardless of which kind you integrate, you’re providing a source for instant updated information.
Including mobile apps in your software suites means the ability to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time. Faster response time, improved connectivity and keeping your employees informed means happier customers and better internal organization.
2. Cloud ERP
While using the cloud is not a new concept for most businesses, as many have already implemented it in some area of their day-to-day operations, it is quickly evolving to become the industry standard.
In 2020, Gartner predicts worldwide cloud revenue will increase by 17%, resulting in nearly a $40 billion climb. As more companies move towards cloud hosting, they are also able to move away from on-premises systems and expensive stationary tech.
Manufacturers, retailers and every company in between can benefit from using cloud-hosted services. And as consumers demand more from the brands they shop with, cloud-based ERP is predicted to continue growing.
Not only does using the cloud support your best interests and business intelligence, but it also will continue to evolve as more industries implement the tool. Growth in popularity and higher business demand for cloud services will spark the development of more features and customization options. Your experience using off-site ERP is bound to improve continually as software developers find ways to suit your needs more directly.
Cloud-hosted ERP is a solution that helps your company collect, manage and analyze data from any location. By using the cloud as a hosting service, you’ll see many benefits, including:
- Faster deployment: While the idea was founded in on-site technology, much of the hardware used to create more organization has become obsolete. On-site ERP platforms can take about a year to implement and deploy, as setting up the servers correctly requires a lot of complex planning. It’s likely that this amount of time is far too much to lose, even despite the long term benefits. In a fast-paced industry, it’s crucial that you have what you need quickly, without risking a lot of downtime. With no on-site servers to install, implementing a cloud-based system takes as little as three months, so you’ll get to the advantages much sooner.
- Simplified updates: In an on-site system, updating your software is a hassle. It takes valuable time and often requires a company-wide outage for maintenance. Having to do this every time you need to upgrade or patch an issue can seriously disrupt your productivity. When you use the cloud, you’ll have the benefit of automatic software updates. Without a break in productivity, your team will always be working with the latest and most capable version of the software. And if you’d rather manage when the systems update than have them do so automatically, you can schedule them routinely for any time. You have more control over updating with less disruption.
- Collaboration: One of the most significant conveniences of cloud-hosted ERP systems is the ease of collaboration. With a simplified system and central database, your teams and suppliers can all access the same data in real-time, regardless of where they’re located around the world. Access to real-time supply chain data gives you and your employees and partners the power to identify and address issues immediately. On-site ERP systems don’t even come close to this level of collaboration, as they require wired connections to desktop computers in the same location for access.
- Reinforced security: When cloud-based solutions were first developed, they were created to enhance security. Cloud-hosted ERPs may have various security features to keep your information safe, including encrypted communication for web service calls and monitoring for any activity that’s out of the ordinary. Using a cloud system also safeguards your data from accidental losses like power failure and natural disasters. All your information is automatically backed up in the cloud and stored far from your geographic location, so it will stay safe even if your brick-and-mortar operations experience an unanticipated failure.
As an added advantage, off-site hosting allows for future growth and worldwide expansion. When you’re looking to advance, you shouldn’t have software issues holding you back. By being able to access data from anywhere, you won’t have to hesitate when considering expanding. Your teams can use the same software and join in on the collaborative efforts seamlessly.
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3. Advanced Technologies
To keep up with the rising demands of consumers, industries of every kind are turning to advanced technologies. Keeping on top of modern technology trends and taking advantage of them in your business is a smart move that will help you grow. If you want to give yourself the best chances for success, using hardware and software cohesively creates an efficient and convenient system.
Three advanced technology concepts that can help you improve your business are the Internet of Things (IoT), direct machine integration and analytics. Together, these technologies form a powerful system of data collection, storage and comprehension.
IoT is a name for the network created by integrating physical, connected and smart devices with various electronics, sensors, software and actuators. This interconnected system allows the individual machines and technologies to collect and exchange data and store it in computer-based records. Creating those links between hardware and software systems is direct machine integration.
Because the devices create a path for communication between the physical systems and ERP software, IoT improves their accuracy and efficiency while reducing the necessity of human intervention. The visibility IoT adds to the entire supply chain process will help keep your entire organization informed and on the same page. To better understand the concept, it can be broken down into six key elements:
- Hardware: IoT centers around the physical devices that make this technology possible, including the sensors and actuators that are capable of network connectivity and data collection. They require the functionality for basic processing and storage, so micro-controllers or integrated circuits are also necessary. You can use a System-on-a-Chip (SoC) or field-programmable gate array (FPGA).
- Networking and cloud integration: Designing a capable network and management system is essential to making IoT work. It involves a high volume of interconnected devices, and small design decisions have significant impacts when they reach that scale. Creating connectivity allows devices to communicate among themselves and with cloud services and applications. Data storage, processing andanalysis are centered in the cloud infrastructure.
- Data analytics and prediction: While the devices and hardware collect data, you still need a program to ingest, store and analyze a large amount of incoming information. Also, because some of the collected data is latent or time-sensitive, it must filter or discard irrelevant information.
- Security: As one of the biggest concerns surrounding IoT, security needs to be present and built into every part of the system’s design. With so much data and information to protect, developers need to be skilled in security engineering, including threat assessment and intelligence, encryption, ethical hacking, event monitoring, activity logging and securing network architectures and applications.
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI): Because devices generate so much information, IoT developers need machine learning and AI skills to derive value from the raw data. Cognitive computing techniques are necessary for intelligence, can be applied to sensor data streams and make autonomous decisions regarding incoming information. Machine learning can also use historical data to recognize patterns or identify anomalies in new data. 2020 will bring improved AI to ERP software.
As a whole, IoT makes up an ecosystem of interconnected devices, software and data transmitters that improve the efficiency of businesses in any industry. IoT integration has been on an upward trend for the past few years, and at its current pace, the market is set to grow to over $3 trillion on an annual basis by as early as 2026.
The software you use is what performs all the analytics. Once the sensors and hardware send the data to your software, the program aggregates the information and sorts it into relevant sections, making it accessible to you and your team. It can render and convert data from personal computers, smartphones, tablets and similar devices, as well as pull from servers, networks, websites, applications, other programs, SIEM logs and other sources.
Analytics takes a massive amount of information transferred to the software and converts it all into useful insights. You can get the answers you need at a glance rather than spending time poring through individual pieces of data. With the broken down and sorted information, you’ll be able to monitor, improve and optimize your business’ operations more efficiently.
4. Omnichannel Strategies
Where the customer shopping experience used to be a trip to a brick and mortar retail store, now there are multiple channels buyers go through to make a purchase. It can be challenging to manage all those channels cohesively, especially if you have a different system for each. In that case, you can’t share data between channels, and none of the siloed systems connect. This disconnectedness makes it more difficult to use any of your collected data and interact with other teams.
In this day and age, consumers will use several channels before making a purchase. However, they see a brand as a whole rather than judging by a single method of sales, and they expect consistency. If you keep every sales channel separate, customers are bound to experience inconsistencies and feel ignored and frustrated while moving from one system to another.
The best alternative is creating an omnichannel experience that unifies front-end and back-end services. Omnichannel is an organization strategy that integrates all of your sales channels into one management system. It creates a seamless shopping journey for your customers, whether they use online, mobile, in-store or a combination of those channels. They’ll have the benefit of convenience, shopping satisfaction and higher lifetime value.
You and your teams will also benefit from an omnichannel system. The solution works to effectively collect, centralize and streamline all your data to support your workflow and make everything easily accessible. Without the risk of human error, it also automatically synchronizes and updates any data changes in real time, so all your records will always include the latest figures.
Every part of your business should be able to access collected data as a mutual resource. Omnichannel solutions make that possible. Your company will have the advantages of:
- Real-time visibility: Omnichannel solutions allow you to check inventory levels across all channels quickly and from anywhere. You’ll be able to easily avoid running into stock issues or inefficient product tracking methods. These benefits reduce the risk of missing a sales opportunity and help you provide better customer service.
- Centralized order management: If you have separate systems for all your sales channels, then managing orders is more difficult than it needs to be. Omnichannel makes it easy to fulfill any order and allows your customers to buy and return items anywhere.
- Unified data source: Siloed sources keeps your data resources separated. But an omnichannel system compiles all your customer data in a single repository. This way, all of your employees and team members can have a complete view of a customer’s interactions across all channels. You’ll be able to provide consistent customer service, support personalized marketing and merchandising and create targeted promotions.
E-commerce is quickly becoming the new normal of business, so optimizing your channels is the best way to retain happy customers. With an omnichannel system, you’ll be more prepared to handle any issue and grow at a faster pace.
5. Additive Manufacturing
To find the best ERP system for your company, you have to consider your current needs as well as where you want to be in the future. If you’re looking to make serious advancements, you may want to consider making room for additive manufacturing.
3D printing is changing the manufacturing industry for the better, especially where large-scale, high-volume and complex products are involved. Using faster, more adaptable equipment allows you to cut costs while producing higher quality items and boosting your team’s efficiency. But, to successfully integrate it into your processes, you need an ERP software system that can keep up.
When you choose to take advantage of the additive manufacturing trend, the printers will greatly increase the volume of data your software has to field. To ensure you can successfully use 3D printing technology, you should review the capabilities and capacities of your system. This way, you’ll know how you can benefit in advance and whether or not you’ll need to upgrade to a more suitable ERP software.
With additive manufacturing and the right configuration of hardware, direct machine integration and software, you’ll be able to closely track quality and material usage for every part you manufacture. From sourcing through delivery, you can monitor the efficiency of your processes in real-time. To find ways to improve the fundamentals of your products, you can also keep track of the safety records of 3D parts with serial codes.
What Is the Future of ERP?
ERP systems began as fully on-premises solutions for companies. As time has brought about new technological capabilities and more mobility, the physical elements have become obsolete. Some still use the on-site solutions, but other options allow for higher quality service and improved efficiency in all areas. The old tech can’t keep up with modern demands.
To understand the future of ERP systems and management, you can look at the trends in business as a whole — the former will be a reflection of the latter. As professionals change their needs, the software that supports them should evolve, too. Currently, most companies are looking for fast responses, ease of use, broad access, mobile capability and other elements that improve efficiency and communication.
Business trends have shown that improvement is all about reinvention. When a new technology emerges, it replaces older systems, which become outdated. Currently, stationary hardware is becoming obsolete as mobile solutions and software are continually growing. The key to having the most significant business advantage is to stay ahead of these technological trend shifts.
As companies continue to phase out many forms of hardware, the demand for simple applications that are accessible from phones, tablets and laptops will grow. Ease of use is becoming a huge selling point, and for good reason — teams need to be able to access and understand complex data faster than ever. Intelligent software that includes configurable dashboards, full integration and analysis from all perspectives will continue to increase in popularity.
In addition to simplicity, another trend for the future is solutions that can expand to an international scale. Software that can function across multiple currencies, legislations, languages and physical requirements is becoming far more desirable. With the ability to span countries, you can open up your future to potential expansions, including international subsidiaries and partnerships.
All of these functions are possible with cloud-hosted ERP software, making it one of the most advanced systems to date. Your business can flourish now and in the future by integrating cloud systems and continuing the shift away from hardware and stationary devices.
Stay Ahead of Trends with FDM4
If you want to keep up with the ERP trends in supply chain management, you should have FDM4 in your corner.
FDM4 International Inc. specializes in creating and updating industry-specific software for companies, including ERP solutions. We’ll help you put flexibility and functionality at the center of your software, creating a system that works and grows with you. You’ll be able to easily make improved decisions, integrate the software into your existing processes, simplify and consolidate your systems and enhance the way you manage data.
With 38 years of experience, we have the knowledge to help you grow your business with industry-leading software. To see how FDM4 can equip you to achieve your business goals, explore our software solutions, or request a live demo for a tailored trial run.