Did you know that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions improve 95% of businesses that implement one? Ultimately, the goal is to give businesses more functionality, eliminate redundant or time-consuming tasks and processes, make the day-to-day more efficient and streamlined, and also to provide businesses with better, richer data with which to make decisions. Simply put, an ERP will kick your business up a notch.
But they are not set-it-and-forget-it solutions. ERPs, like everything having to do with technology, change, grow, expand, and level up to keep pace with the changing needs of business. Functionality increases to include previously unsupported processes, glitches and other elements get tweaked, and features expand. Trends in technology itself also add to the mix. Every year, or more often than that, there’s something new.
What are the ERP trends for 2021? NetSuite recently published their thoughts on what’s ahead for the coming year. Let’s look at the highlights, along with some insights of our own.
The cloud has been a game-changer for many types of storage, and ERPs are no exception. Gone are the days of expensive hardware, high startup fees, and the limitations of an on-site ERP. Businesses are moving to cloud-based solutions at a rapid rate. The cloud computing market is estimated to reach $258 billion this year, and according to Statista, will reach $40 billion by 2023. That’s a lot of data in cloud storage.
The reasons are simple, according to NetSuite. It’s secure, streamlined, the cost is lower today than it had been, it’s possible to use only what you need, there’s less reliance on your own internal IT department and it’s easy to add users and functionality as your business and your needs grow. But there’s one big factor in the growth of cloud-based solutions that nobody could have seen coming: the pandemic. Suddenly, everyone who could work at home was doing just that, even in businesses that traditionally didn’t allow remote working. When you’re using a cloud-based ERP, you aren’t tied to the office. You can work from anywhere. As businesses realize that remote work is here to stay even after the pandemic leaves our shores, cloud-based ERPs will continue to grow.
We can do everything from our smartphones today, from turning on the lights before we get home to applying for a mortgage. We are used to instant information and functionality, all from the palms of our hands. Why not work via our ERP? Mobile apps for ERPs are a hot trend right now, and will continue to grow. Mobile apps allow push notifications, event creation, and the review and approval of timecards, sales orders, and expenses. They make it easier to complete tasks throughout the day, both front-and-back-end functions, while you’re on the go. The rise in mobile ERPs dovetails with the rise of cloud ERP systems. Simply put, the technology that allows people to work without being in the office is going to take center stage post-pandemic, as many businesses transform to remote working being the norm.
Two-Tier ERP Software
NetSuite predicts that two-tier ERP solutions will be a top trend in 2021. What is it, exactly? It’s a dual implementation of an ERP within one company. It can work like this: The corporate level of the company uses one tier, usually the legacy application. Subsidiaries manage and use a second tier, which may be cloud-based. It’s also an ideal solution for large companies with many locations, or for companies with many business units. Implementing a second tier when you already have an ERP can be less expensive than growing and expanding your existing ERP, especially if your business is growing quickly. It can also allow business units and subsidiaries to focus on their particular business needs and processes.
Internet of Things (IoT) / Direct Machine Integration
NetSuite predicts that integrating the Internet of Things (IoT), like smart scanners in your warehouse or your ecommerce technology, into your ERP system is another trend that will be growing this year. Connecting all business functions with digital technology, starting with your ERP, creates greater efficiency and functionality. You’ll find fewer surprise malfunctions and shut-downs when IoT and your ERP are combined, too. It’s the heightened levels of efficiency and transparency that are driving this trend.
The great irony about some of the more popular applications of artificial intelligence is, they are intended to humanize a process or procedure, specifically for customer interaction. AI, in the form of things like chatbots, has been growing and will continue to grow this year. Instead of simply adding AI to an ERP system, as many companies have done, AI is now being built in to an ERP’s core system at the outset. But it’s not just about chatbots and other “humanlike” functionality. AI has the power to wrangle and analyze your complex data. It can not only analyze that data quickly, but it can streamline processes for maximum efficiency.
The pandemic has also had a hand in the growth of 3D printing, a technology that, just a few years ago, was considered to be something out of science fiction rather than a common tool for many industries. As COVID-19 disrupted supply chains worldwide, many businesses turned to 3D printing, including the life sciences industry. The Department of Defense tells us it used 3D printers for everything from ventilators to masks and face shields, and its use is also growing in biotech, pharma, and medical device fields. So, what does it have to do with your ERP? An ERP can manage large amounts of data, schedule production to coincide with demand, and ensure the optimal sequencing of manufacturing and production.
The bottom line, ERP systems continue to evolve with the latest technologies to become more efficient, helping you become more efficient. We have no doubt we’ll be seeing more changes throughout 2021. AT GBS, we help companies choose and implement proper ERP software for their evolving technology and evolving business. Get in touch today for more information about how we can help you stay on top of the 2021 trends.