ERP is Going Mobile

Mobile ERP

In an increasingly connected world, companies are embracing mobile as an effective platform to communicate, manage employees and reach customers or suppliers. This is seeing traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions evolving to be more cognisant of an active user base that requires real-time information irrespective of their physical location.

 

In this environment, decision-makers must continuously evaluate how adaptable they are to utilising mobile to pull relevant data from a multitude of sources. In turn, this [data] is used to develop customised products and services catering for end-users that are expecting a bespoke approach. While there will always be a need for off-the-shelf solutions, the growth in accessibility to information means people want their solutions providers to use the information they have about them to produce more tailored offerings. This will help African entrepreneurs leapfrog traditional economies, as more innovative technology can be used from the start.

 

ERP Mobility:

It, therefore, makes sense that mobile ERP has been identified as a business imperative in the digital world. Being able to use ERP that is untethered to an office environment, provides the user with the ability to take advantage of more enhanced business capabilities than was previously available.

 

And while this leads to improved productivity, it also empowers employees to build deeper relationships with customers and their business environment. With mobile ERP, they have access to all the latest data and can resolve just about any customer query while meeting with them personally.

 

This also empowers the field worker to respond faster to everything from competitive quotes to changing market dynamics such as, changes in exchange rates or fuel price increases and the associated impact it will have on transport costs as an example.

 

Escalating Speed of Innovation:

Despite the advantages to be gained from mobile ERP, this segment of the business is traditionally slow-moving and resistant to change. While some of it might have to do with perceptions around virtualised and hosted solutions, a lot of the hesitation to adopt more mobile solutions can be ascribed to the level of integration required in the business.

 

ERP, like so many mission-critical systems, is not something that can be easily ripped and replaced. It might be possible for small to medium enterprises to innovate fast and change their approaches to ERP quickly, larger organisations need to take a more considered approach.

 

Whilst this puts CIOs responsible for looking after large organisations under immense pressure. To try and balance the need to be innovative with the business requirement of ‘keeping the lights on’. It provides greater opportunity for start-ups to embrace modern technology. The same can be said with those organisations who rushed into Cloud Computing without due consideration for the process change required, learnt these lessons the hard way.

 

Keeping it simple

For many of them, an incremental path to implement mobile ERP seems the one that makes the most business sense. Of course, this does not mean innovation cannot happen or that it will take too long to effect change. Instead, those areas in which mobile ERP are piloted and tested provide the business with the opportunity to experiment in a ‘safer’ environment than would have been possible if it was implemented on an enterprise-level.

 

Companies should also avoid the temptation of trying to be ‘too flashy’ with their mobile ERP installations. By starting off slowly and gradually bringing in more features, users can get used to the benefits of mobile ERP without being distracted from the business objectives.

 

It also provides the business with the opportunity to get valuable feedback from users and refine and enhance the mobile ERP offering based on growth requirements.

 

Irrespective of how it is implemented, mobile ERP is here to stay.

ERP bringing about behaviour change

Mobile ERP

Changing Behaviour from Enterprise Resource Planning:

Despite the focus on digital transformation, the value traditional approaches bring to the organisation cannot be underestimated. By having a solid foundation underpinned by proven business best practices, the organisation is in a much better position to roll out more innovative solutions. In this environment, enterprise resource planning (ERP) has become more critical than ever in managing all the elements effectively.

 

In many respects, the emergence of the cloud as a viable business platform has heralded in the digital era. This signalled the start of a behavioural change in IT departments. Whether you call it software-as-a-service, virtualisation, or hosted solutions, the shift between on-site and off-site solutions management has irrevocably transformed enterprise.

 

No longer required to fulfil an IT support and maintenance role, technology departments could now focus on bringing more innovation into the organisation by being able to develop more customised technology solutions. With cloud (whether it be in a private or hybrid model) simplifying the administrative hassle, organisations could focus more on product differentiation.

 

Along for the Ride:

 

As cloud implementations grew in prominence across industry sectors, so too did the need to adopt more traditional business practices. Companies who did not effectively analyse the business impact of cloud on existing systems and processes were found to struggle while those that took a more considered approach reaped the rewards.

 

Under pressure to align more closely with the cloud approach, ERP as a traditional business approach required a more nuanced look at itself. Gone were the days where on-premise was the priority. Cloud computing pushed mobility as a growth pillar. In this dynamic segment, ERP had little choice but to find a way of pulling information from several hosted data sources. Mobile employees and customers meant ERP had to evolve to still deliver business value.

 

Fortunately, it has not been a case of ‘me too’ strategy when it comes to ERP and how it is incorporating digital transformation elements. Instead, ERP is providing executives with the best of both worlds (the traditional and the digital).

 

Shifting Processes:

Being such a mission-critical system, Legacy ERP is not an easy one to transform into a digital process. But thanks to the growing emergence of Modern ERP that are able to provide real-time data analysis, and agility where processes are being adapted on a continual basis. This leaves many organisations having to customise and tweak their legacy enterprise resources to be more in tune with digital requirements.

 

With the likes of predictive analytics, machine-learning, and the Internet of Things becoming part of the ERP puzzle, decision-makers are realising the need to grow into a more dynamic (technology-driven) environment.

 

This shift provides not only competitive benefits but also results in cost-efficiencies. Companies can more quickly adapt to external factors using a more fluid ERP system with their strategies (and, per implication their products and services) following suit.

 

Granted, there is still a long way to go to effectively transform this vital business system, but the signs are there that many are considering this new environment.

Epic ERP: Adapting to change

Company Culture

Despite change in the workplace being a common occurrence, the pace of it has escalated significantly in recent months given the importance of digital transformation in business. How then can employees successfully adapt to it while still maintaining focus on their daily responsibilities?

 

Virtualisation, cloud computing, artificial reality, machine-learning, and other terms have become all too common in organisations across industry sectors. With technology permeating virtually every facet of the corporate environment, decision-makers have no choice but to embrace it if their businesses are to remain relevant. Competitive (and bottom-line) pressures have become significant with many organisations feeling the pinch to optimise processes on an all too regular basis.

 

Amidst all of this, is the humble employee who must face an ongoing ‘sink or swim’ scenario. Uncertainty around job roles and responsibilities, team structures, and even business strategy result in a volatile environment where people do not know how to respond to ongoing changes.

 

Companies need to put People-first:

For many employees, the routine of their work is something they can find comfort in. Knowing what to expect from any given day (within certain parameters) mean they can prepare themselves mentally for the tasks at hand and plan their agendas accordingly.

 

Of course, there is an inevitable risk in becoming too routine and falling in to regular patterns. Innovation is one of the areas that suffer the most as is the potential to embrace new ways of doing things. The pressure to embrace digital transformation processes has changed this.

 

Companies can ill afford to ignore new technologies that promise better work efficiency, real-time data analysis, as well as a host of business intelligence and other features to increase profitability and stakeholder value. However, one of the biggest mistakes any organisation can make is to ignore the human element in this.

 

The temptation to implement the latest and greatest technology should not come at the cost of alienating employees or their positions inside the organisation. In fact, digital transformation is as much about technology change as it is about putting people first and becoming a more effective business.

 

Decision-makers therefore need to communicate to all levels of employees to ensure that when change is taking place, everybody has an awareness of what is happening inside the organisation and what the potential impact will be on their divisions, teams, and themselves.

 

Be Aware of a Cultural Shift:

While change is situational and transition becomes psychological, executives need to be more in tune with how employees are facing new technologies and different methodologies of performing their job functions.

 

This means adapting the organisational culture to be more reflective of one that is embracing technological change but doing so with employee benefits (such as becoming more efficient at doing their jobs) in mind. It is not a case of changing for its own sake but doing so in a manner that enhances the business strategy.

 

Part of the process of helping employees be more open to this change is to invest in their continuing education. Companies who invest in their people are the ones that will reap the rewards down the line. Employees should never feel that they have become surplus to requirements. Instead, they should see the business taking interest in giving them the skills needed to be successful in a business world.

 

Finally, companies must learn to analyse performance and provide insightful feedback in much clearer ways than in the past. People inside the business need to understand what exactly is expected of them, how they will be measured, and what they can do to get the recognition they deserve.

 

With the only constant being change, how best a company manages that in a digitally-rich world becomes the difference between longevity and simply surviving.

Embracing a Mobile ERP World:

Mobile ERP

Stuart Scanlon Speaks on Mobile ERP:

 

The popular IT vernacular of last year – cloud computing, big data, and virtualisation – has been replaced with the likes of mobility and digital transformation. And yet, the building blocks of enterprise resource planning (ERP) remain integral to the success of the business. How then is the new dynamic impacting on such a fundamental technological component?

 

Given the imminent arrival of new multi-national data centres in South Africa, much attention has turned to the feasibility of going the cloud route (likely still a hybrid approach) for local businesses. Certainly, while companies across different sectors have started to embrace virtualised solutions, many analysts expect a significantly more mainstream adoption once those new data centres open in 2018.

 

Becoming Mobile First:

Apart from addressing concerns that exist around potential bandwidth limitations of accessing data hosted thousands of kilometres away on other continents, the new local data centres will see faster (and more reliable) connectivity between corporate users and their mission-critical information. Already, we are seeing businesses embrace mobile enterprise solutions to gain real-time insights while out in the field.

 

Of course, a further advantage of going the local route is the fact that any potential compliance and regulatory concerns are taken care of by keeping data within the borders of the country. This is contributing to Africa being a mobile-first continent. Even South African businesses are becoming less focused on rolling out traditional solutions and more geared towards being mobile-friendly.

 

Impact of Mobile on ERP:

This push towards mobile is driving the need for easier and faster ways to access data while away from the office. It stands to reason that accessing systems on a smartphone or tablet is becoming a corporate priority.

 

For this to work effectively, ERP needs to transform as well. In fact, mobile ERP is one of the biggest growth areas for vendors in the months (and potentially years) to come. By creating an enabling environment for mobile ERP systems, business users will be able to access everything from reports and job processes to financial data and other components while working remotely.

 

Granted, several solutions already exist in this space to help drive mobile ERP, but there is still significant opportunity for refinement. Effectively integrating with the back-end database wherever it is located becomes a priority. All the user-friendliness and design engagement mean very little if the right information is not accessible quickly and reliably.

 

A ERP Solution for All:

Significantly, these mobile ERP solutions can cater for organisations of all sizes. Even small to medium enterprises can benefit from this mobile approach with ERP becoming more affordable. Despite the hype around the cloud and virtualization, the business benefits they bring to the digital transformation initiatives of businesses cannot be ignored.

 

So, while mobile ERP might still be considered a relatively niche field amidst all the excitement of other digital initiatives, it will be a vital element of any business strategy. How decision-makers will implement it and integrate with the rest of their data-driven solutions will be an ongoing part of the process.

 

Irrespective the way forward, companies who have been ignoring the mobile route need to start re-examining their approaches before it is too late. Digital waits for no one.

Epicor expands South African footprint

Astria Technologies

Epicor Appoints Astraia Technology:

ERP Suite of Business Solutions:

Western Cape technology consulting firm Astraia Technology has been appointed as an Epicor Value Added Reseller (VAR) through South African distributor Epic ERP. This sees companies in the region benefitting from strong local support for the global enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite of business solutions.

 

We are extremely excited to have Astraia on board. They have a solid reputation in the Western Cape and is the business partner of choice for many organisations across industry sectors. Epicor is strongly positioned in South Africa and we have seen companies embrace its cloud-centric approach to meet the requirements of the digital age. Astraia will further cement this thinking with its customers as it provides specialist consulting services that align with the Epicor strategic objectives,” says Stuart Scanlon, managing director of epic ERP.

 

David Bryant, CEO of Astraia, says this appointment is not just about the technology solutions available through epic ERP but is also a reflection of the shared values of both organisations.

 

“For us, it is about the power of relationship. Like us, Epic ERP believes in honesty, integrity, and excellence. Add to this the extent at which Epicor meets business requirements, and you have room for almost infinite possibilities,” believes Bryant.

 

According to Bryant, companies in the Western Cape are committed to capitalising on opportunities as the area has become one of the fastest-growing in the country. Astraia clients range from financial services to mining and manufacturing. The company focuses on the process of ERP and will look at integrating all its solutions to bring value through the Epicor suite.

 

Companies are more open to ERP than in the past as it has become more affordable and accessible because of the benefits that cloud computing provide. This partnership with epic ERP provides us with the opportunity to offer our customers the best in technology solutions built upon the foundation of our strong relationship with them and epic ERP,” he concludes.