In this blog, I would like to highlight some of the leading edge technology trends for both hardware and software that I think will be making a tangible impact this year in the ERP space.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything is causing a revolution in the manufacturing industry as cyber physical systems, smart factories and Industry 4.0 all come together. This automation consolidation is blurring the physical and digital worlds but unlocking incredible economies of scale, extended supply chain efficiencies and predictive forecasting and design through analytics. I see machine learning playing a key part in harnessing the data collected by the IoT orchestra.
Cloud on the Rise
I foresee increased growth and adoption of cloud as companies seek to reduce the load on their internal IT systems by migrating to the cloud from on premise. This will also enable companies and manufacturers to affordably scale up or down at a moment’s notice. Yes, the cloud has grown up, it has matured, so embrace it.
Mobility will see growth in application consolidation this year. Organizations with disparate applications will be looking to centralize these onto a single application to reduce cost and centralize reporting through using a single vendor. For example, HR applications or purchasing and expense claims can be consolidated into one single vendor application and written in the same source code to help IT departments reduce costs and boost app optimization.
Mobility will intensify, giving companies a 24/7 always available communication network. This consolidation of applications will also increase as organizations attempt to make a more seamless shift to the cloud.
Wearable Devices Grow
Wearables are set to explode in the ERP space much as they are gaining increasing popularity for consumers on the street. As the Jawbone and Fitbit wearable devices are used by consumers to monitor their heart rate, blood pressure and exercise levels, devices like the Samsung Gear, Apples iWatch and the Microsoft Band will be used for managers and workers to measure and monitor the status and “health” of their business and ERP solution. This will happen on or off the factory floor and 24/7, without having to open or even access their PC’s or laptops.
The entrance of generation X and Y (the millennials) into the manufacturing and distribution workplace means they bring with them the expectation of having ERP data available intuitively, like a social media interface. They won’t want to have to look for relevant data like stock codes but rather have it presented to them as notifications or postings, as if they were on Twitter or Facebook.
This combination of social media interface, machine learning and business intelligence will enable business owners, for example, to experience unheard of availability and interactive depths with their ERP data. Sales people will also be able to monitor their targets and financial staff can be kept up to date with bank balances, requisitions approvals and expense approvals through unobtrusive notifications.
This data visualization will mean processes like optimization delivery and warehouse management in ERP could truly become personal.
Virtual Reality and 3D Design
Lastly, the virtual reality (VR) space is also creating huge opportunities for manufacturers, especially in the process areas of made to order and 3D product design. Witness this innovation in the automotive space where the 3D visual specs of the latest model car can be shared virtually with the whole design team, regardless of where they are on the planet. So roll on 2016.