If the Fifth Industrial Revolution begins tomorrow, will your business be ready?

Cyber communication and robotic trend and artificial intelligence concepts. Industrial 4.0 Cyber Physical Systems concept. Robot and Engineerer human holding hand with handshake and graphic.

As innovative as he was, Karl Benz could hardly have imagined that 130 years after inventing the internal combustion engine car, self-driving vehicles would be a reality. But autonomous cars, along with wearable technology, 3D printing, augmented reality and cryptocurrency, are proof that technology is fast becoming increasingly sophisticated and remarkable. As it continues to transform the world, technology is also disrupting business.


“Everyone has very different opinions when it comes to Industry 5.0,” says Stuart Scanlon, managing director for epic ERP, the official Southern African distribution partner for Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth. “However, if you look at the exponential rate of transformation in the technology industry, I believe the Fifth Industrial Revolution is going to be here far sooner than most people think and if your business isn’t prepared – you’re going to be left behind.”


While we don’t yet know what the Fifth Industrial Revolution will bring, it’s going to play in the virtual space, according to Scanlon, and it’s going to break down barriers between the real world and the virtual one. People will have greater access to machines, where huge amounts of data can be extracted and processed intelligently to provide insights into efficiency and productivity, while also providing new business opportunities.


“Revolutions are occurring faster and faster, which is why a business needs an agile infrastructure, so it’s better set up to adjust services, products and procedures – to continue growing. With software that can support the unknown, a company will be taking steps to future-proof the business. When new technology from the next revolution becomes entrenched, we’re going to be conducting business in different ways. Consider companies like Uber and Airbnb; one is a transport company that owns no cars, while the other offers accommodation but owns no rooms. People can’t yet envisage the changes, but they need to be ready to respond,” says Scanlon.

Navigating the ERP purchase decision-making process


When purchasing a strategic software solution, such as a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, making the right decision is vital. The following steps are designed to give organisations a better understanding of the functions needed for the business software to perform, establish its infrastructure requirements, and achieve ROI quickly.


Assess functionality needs


Start by evaluating the business challenges and individual pain points that you need to address, and determine the business value your organisation needs to extract from the software. What problems should it solve, or what new growth opportunities should it create for your business?

At a very early stage of your decision-making process, you will want to compile a list of cross-functional requirements to use, to reach out to software vendors that have solutions that match these requirements.

If replacing legacy software, make sure to keep in mind future business goals, as opposed to simply writing a list of the shortcomings of the old software. Where do you want to be in 3-5 years? What your ERP solution needs to support in the future, is almost more important than what the system does for you today.

Another key question to ask is: How do you want to deploy the solution? Legacy systems traditionally are on-premises solutions. Today, you have a choice in deployment including traditional on-premises, hosted, “true cloud”, or some hybrid of any or all of these options.


Have an open dialogue with software vendors


The beginning stages of any software decision should involve an open and honest discussion with the software vendor about the organisation’s business ambitions. If your focus is to increase profitability, the vendor must show their strength as a true partner by suggesting options that will best accommodate the goal, in line with the company’s overall business strategy.


Understand the end game, not just cost of ownership


New software requires a considerable business investment, however, it’s important to measure ROI, not just cost. Consider the up-front purchase budget alongside other key considerations, such as the benefits the organisation can expect to gain from that software, as well as the long-term maintenance costs.

Today’s next-generation enterprise software assists companies by driving up their productivity, while keeping costs down. A modern ERP solution can help a business save valuable time by reducing the amount of administrative tasks that employees have to complete, automating processes and streamlining workflows. This results in a business that is more agile, responsive and competitive.


Supporting the new software


Be sure to understand the capabilities of your company’s IT department. Will the team need help throughout the entire implementation process and beyond, or will they just need a training session before managing the deployment themselves?

An ERP system is not a function of the IT department, it’s a function across the entire business and this is where massive cost savings are realised. Cost of ownership is a principle that is not understood and is often found within organisations that do not see technology as an advantage. They are stuck in the mentality of “we have always done it that way”.

Choosing new software is a complex task and it can also be a confusing experience. Once implemented, the system needs to evolve with the ever-changing requirements of the business and these configuration changes must be carried out by the organisation itself, not the IT department or the IT vendor. It is becoming more of a business function to update configurations and reporting dashboards.


Research the software vendor


It is vital that companies check credentials and do the necessary research to make sure they work with a software vendor that cares about the business requirements, not just about where the next sale is coming from.

Reputable software vendors will consult with the company on different options available and offer honest opinions on how to use technology to improve the business. This is especially important when purchasing an ERP solution, which is a whole package, not just one small element of a business’s technology.

How to read data off a donkey cart


The donkey cart. A simple, effective mode of transport that has been used throughout the world to move people and their goods. On its own the donkey cart provides no meaningful data, but put a cell phone on the cart and this enables you to gather data that can be processed intelligently to make informed decisions.


Let’s say the donkey cart driver sells and delivers products on a daily basis. By using data from the cell phone, you can plot the route travelled and estimate arrival times at various points along the route. Armed with this additional information, the driver can operate more strategically, resulting in greater profitability and efficiency.


But, gathering any kind of data is the easy part, it’s what you do with it that really matters. Modern, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software like Epicor, will take this data and provide context – making it useful. With intelligent information, you can be proactive and make smarter choices. This could be in areas that would help you easily and effectively manage job costs and boost overall productivity, such as engineering, inventory, scheduling and production.


We are living in a world where the rate of technological development is growing exponentially and we are living on a continent which, according to World Finance, has three of the world’s five fastest-growing economies. With a young, growing and mobile-hungry audience, businesses must adapt and future-proof products or services to stay competitive. To do this, you need intelligent data and you need to know what to do with it.


If Epicor ERP software can gather meaningful data from a donkey cart, imagine what this agile, cloud-based ERP solution can do for your business.

Fenner Selects Epicor ERP to Improve Manufacturing Efficiency


World Leader in Conveyor Belting Solutions Chooses Epicor and epic ERP to Deliver Real-Time Manufacturing Solutions

Epicor Software Corporation, a global leader in business software solutions for manufacturing, distribution, retail and services organisations, today announced that Fenner South Africa has chosen the next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, Epicor ERP, to improve data accuracy, costing, integration and automation in their manufacturing process. This is to support the company’s goal of continued growth in Southern Africa. The solution has been implemented by epic ERP, the value-added-reseller of Epicor ERP in sub-Saharan Africa.


Founded in 1861 in England, the Fenner Group was established to manufacture leather and encompassed belting, lacing and hoses. The company expanded globally over the next century and in 1960, Fenner South Africa officially opened its manufacturing facility and distribution outlet in Johannesburg. Fenner South Africa has focused on the Group’s Engineered Conveyor Solutions (ECS) division, and their state-of-the-art plant produces and distributes solid, woven conveyor belting to the mining, power generation and bulk handling markets throughout Southern Africa.


Fenner South Africa had identified issues of data accuracy, costing and automation, and required an integrated, fit for use ERP system that could seamlessly be implemented in their manufacturing plant, to measure, manage and improve manufacturing efficiency.


“While we enjoy over 65% of the solid woven conveyor belt market, our focus is to steadily increase market share by continuing to secure contracts with major mining houses and allied industries. To ensure that all the products we distribute are reliable, of the highest quality and meet international standards, we need a reputable and cost-effective ERP solution,” said Chris Bekker, Financial Director of Fenner Conveyor Belting South Africa.


Bekker continued, “One of our biggest requirements was that our selected ERP vendor have a thorough understanding of the manufacturing environment, with a successful implementation track record. We conducted a comprehensive evaluation with a number of vendors and Epicor ERP’s manufacturing solutions stood out. In addition, their software has been effectively implemented in the Fenner Australia and Fenner America businesses and has proven to be an invaluable tool in their manufacturing plants. As Fenner South Africa is similar to both businesses, we can leverage from prior implementation experience and learnings, and we are confident that Epicor ERP, supported by epic ERP, can resolve our own issues of data accuracy, costing and pricing, integration and automation.”


Stuart Scanlon founder of epic ERP said, “It was by no means an easy evaluation, and we worked hard to show Fenner South Africa how Epicor ERP can improve their manufacturing efficiency, while also being a cost-effective solution. With an integrated ERP system, not only are you breaking down silos but you’re also bringing together all your operational systems. By having one source of the truth, Fenner South Africa will get real-time insights and accurate data, allowing them to focus on profitability. Our team can’t wait to get started.”


Sabby Gill, executive vice president sales for Epicor International explained, “Our successful implementation track record in Fenner Group’s Australian and American manufacturing plants has given us invaluable insight into their manufacturing environment, so we’ll be able to hit the ground running. Through Epicor ERP, the Fenner South Africa team can measure and manage their manufacturing with greater efficiency, enabling them to retain their global tag of being a world leader in conveyor belting solutions.”