Parents, especially those who had kids later in life (as I did), will occasionally find themselves explaining things that make them feel…well…ancient! The other day, for example, I was talking to my six-year-old boy while flipping through photos on my old iPhone. Certain old family pictures triggered a discussion of grandparents and great grandparents. That gave me an idea, and I pulled out an old photo album. As I searched for a picture of my son’s great grandparents, a look came over his face that I can only describe as ‘startled’. Then the questions began:
‘What is this, dad?’
‘Why isn’t it in colour?’
‘Why is the picture so blurry?’
‘How do I make it bigger?’
The conversation stayed with me long after my son was in bed, and slowly evolved into a reflection on the increasingly rapid progress of ERP technology. For many years, ERP was a relatively static business solution. These days, it’s quite the reverse. In lock-step with profound advances in technology, which in turn fuel new modes of competition and consumer demand, ERP development appears, from my perspective, to be progressing at an exponential rate.
One of the greatest changes to occur in my working life has been the evolution of the mobile worker. In a way that would have delighted our ERP “ancestors” of the 20th century, business solutions such as SYSPRO can now be run from the palm of your hand. Today, handheld devices are helping warehouse pickers pick, sales people sell, and executives make decisions, based on real-time information, while travelling. All this adds up to measurable benefits in accuracy, efficiency and competitive edge.
In Asia, where I live, the growth of “mobility” has been nothing short of phenomenal. In keeping with the size of its population, Asia has the greatest number of mobile subscribers in the world. According to a GMSA report, there are now more than five billion unique mobile subscribers in the world – approximately 66% of the global population. By 2025 that number is forecast to reach nine billion, about 71% of the population, with much of the growth coming from India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh. In fact, over the next eight years, China alone will account for approximately 40% of global mobile revenue growth.1
Such estimates are supported by a wide range of factors, and appear to be robust, despite current worries over protectionist policies and possible trade wars. According to FocusEconomics, ASEAN GDP picked up last year, recording 5.2% growth, its fastest expansion since 2012. That uptick was largely fueled by external demand for the region’s technology exports2, and bodes well, in my opinion, for increased business activity, which will inevitably lead to the predicted upswing in mobile adoption.
By 2019, according to the GMSA report, 4G will boast more than three billion connections, making it the leading mobile network technology. To date, however, not all of our customers live in countries with perfect 4G coverage. Keeping in mind that last-mile connectivity is still a work-in-progress, SYSPRO provides its customers with the best of both worlds: mobile functionality both on- and off-line. Our customers can continue to work even when out of coverage, confident that the information they add off-line will seamlessly sync back to SYSPRO once their “green bars” are glowing again.
The fact is that mobile SYSPRO customer’s access the Internet every moment of every day. While many ERP solutions provide ubiquitous web connectivity, SYSPRO Espresso (our ground-breaking mobile platform) provides our users with unparalleled deployment and usage flexibility, supplying ubiquitous, real-time information through device- and platform-agnostic software.
Mobility is one of the more visible ways that ERP is changing, but there are profound developments in ERP functionality that many of us barely have time to consciously take stock of, including interactions with chatbots on LinkedIn (or any other social media platform) as well as myriad specialised third-party solutions. It’s an exciting time to walk into the SYSPRO innovations department, and most (but not all) of the time I actually understand what they’re doing.
The question, however, remains – will the workers of tomorrow look startled when they think of the way that we work today? I can’t help but wonder what ERP solutions will be providing when my son is in the workforce. The future is wide open, and the possibilities seem infinite.