13 ERP Predictions for 2017

Thursday Feb 2nd 2017 by Drew Robb
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Experts say the cloud and IoT will be very important this year.

ERP has changed markedly over the past two decades. So where is it heading in 2017? Some see the end of old ways that have lingered too long and now need to head off into the sunset. Others predict market shakeups and whole new vistas of possibilities.

1. Green Screens and Spreadsheets Be Gone

Eric Kimberling, principal at Panorama Consulting Solutions, said the end is nigh with regard to aged ERP approaches that are tied to mainframes or that can only provide data in Excel.

“This is the year to say goodbye to that old legacy, the green screen or the Excel spreadsheets,” he said. “Technology has come too far and become too cost effective for your organization to be limping along on an outdated system that undermines your business objectives.”

2. Tier I, No More

“ERP has been split up into tiers for a long time,” said KImberling.

Tier one has largely consisted of the "big three": SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics. But those days are ending as cloud ERP has made it possible for new entrants to gain market share and blur the lines between the various tiers. As a result, even the biggest and most complex organizations have a multitude of options at their disposal.

“Classification of tier one ERP systems will become obsolete,” said Kimberling. “There are simply too many options and sophisticated technologies in the market to think that the big three incumbents are the only packages capable of addressing the needs of large, upper mid-market and high-growth organizations.”

3. Consumerized ERP

Josh Fischer, product manager for xTupleCommerce, said that the biggest thing to expect in 2017 is demand for the equivalent of a consumer ecommerce experience in B2B transactions. Uber, eBay and Airbnb have revolutionized their respective fields. Now it’s time for enterprise apps to get in on the act.

“It's kind of astonishing that it hasn't happened on a broader scale already, but it's definitely happening now,” said Fischer.

4. New Norm

Cloud ERP has grown significantly in recent years. 2017 could well be the year where it can be regarded as the norm.

“Having your CRM and ERP in the cloud is the new norm, and changing subscription billing models and coming regulatory changes in 2017 will drive the next wave of cloud ERP migrations,” said Kevin Roberts, director of platform technology at FinancialForce.

Steve Cox, vice president of ERP and EPM cloud go-to-market at Oracle, concurs. He said cloud ERP will become the default choice for most customers as it reaches the top of the innovation adoption curve.

“Those organizations that have existing investments in modern on-premises software will adopt a cloud-first policy for all future purchases to ensure they benefit from the latest capabilities and innovations available on a regular basis,” said Cox.

5. Revenue Recognition

New revenue recognition regulations in 2017 could be a big driver for ERP adoption and migration. This will lead to businesses seeking ERP systems that automate and streamline their back-end processes, while complying with new ASC 606 and IFRS 15 revenue-recognition reporting guidelines.

“These impending changes will push businesses to go all-in on cloud ERP at a faster rate as they seek the convenience of continually compliant cloud applications over on-premise solutions,” said Roberts.

<h2<6. Intelligent ERP

Not that ERP was dumb before — we are talking here about baked-in analytics. The only way to ensure companies can more easily meet regulatory requirements and aggressive growth metrics is to enable real-time, actionable insights within cloud ERP platforms that will give previously unachievable visibility into every dollar recognized and dollar planned.

“New systems will meet user demand for detailed business optics, billing forecasting, and revenue tracking and meet customer demands for software that automates cumbersome workflows,” said Roberts. “In 2017, expectations for software intelligence will increase, and vendors will be expected to move past perfunctory, process-orientated tasks and do more than just log data.”

6. Intelligent ERP

Not that ERP was dumb before — we are talking here about baked-in analytics. The only way to ensure companies can more easily meet regulatory requirements and aggressive growth metrics is to enable real-time, actionable insights within cloud ERP platforms that will give previously unachievable visibility into every dollar recognized and dollar planned.

“New systems will meet user demand for detailed business optics, billing forecasting, and revenue tracking and meet customer demands for software that automates cumbersome workflows,” said Roberts. “In 2017, expectations for software intelligence will increase, and vendors will be expected to move past perfunctory, process-orientated tasks and do more than just log data.”

7. Siri Comes to ERP

The Consumer Electronics Show in January 2017 highlighted the fact that voice interfaces are poised to explode this year, and that this heavy consumer demand will influence the workplace. Smart assistants like Cortana, Alexa and Siri finding new ways to take business action on voice inputs. Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and voice recognition frameworks, developers now have the tools to develop systems that check the status of project deliverables, run reports and respond to business information through simple voice commands, creating the year of the Enterprise Resource Planning assistant. FinancialForce, for example, demonstrated this with an Amazon Echo demo.

8. Service Dominance

Our evolving economy and the trend towards service business models has made subscription billing capabilities par for the course in ERP software. However, 2017 will see that trend accelerate.

“Over 90 percent of businesses will earn more than half of their revenue from services,” said Roberts. “This shift will place a greater emphasis on customer experience and renewals, making it critical to become more engaged in customer experience and product development. To support this shift, successful software companies will be required to deliver tools that consolidate billing sources, support and automate new revenue models, and provide end-to-end visibility across the customer lifecycle.”

9. Talent Search

2017 could see companies searching for a whole new strata of talent. Exponentially increasing customer expectations are driving adoption of new technologies such as robots, chatbots and AI. Organizations will bring on new talent with the technological chops needed to respond to these demands, future-proof the business, and accelerate digital transformation.

“This new talent will begin to adapt these new technologies as they become mainstream and will work closely with the C-suite to develop improved user experiences for their customers,” said Cox.

10. Finance Control

That said, the position of finance in modern organizations is being reinforced by the realization of all this new technology. Finance is becoming the digital nerve center of today’s organizations. As this nerve center responds to the business changes driven by increasing customer expectations and other forces, IT buyers’ preferences are fundamentally changing.

“Organizations will respond to the need to innovate by updating infrastructures — either through a transformational approach, at the edge through strategic adoption of cloud for individual functions, or a mixture of the two,” said Cox.

11. Internet of Things

Just as the cloud will gain even more prominence this year, so the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to exert a big impact in the ERP world.

“We will see more ERP implementations adopting either a cloud or hybrid approach as many companies are starting to understand the need for an infrastructure that enables them to leverage new technologies including mobility and collecting, aggregating and analyzing data via IoT,” said Terri Hiskey, vice president of product marketing for manufacturing at Epicor. “Companies now understand the value of a cloud strategy and how IoT can enable critical business processes.”

12. IoT Actionability

With businesses beginning to understand the importance of IoT, they are now shifing focus onto how to take the data collected via IoT and make it actionable. Further, smaller companies are beginning to look at how they can get started on this path and how quickly they can see a return on their efforts.

“You don’t have to boil the ocean in order to implement an IoT strategy,” said Hiskey. “You can start small, with a sensor that feeds data back to a database, so that you can test the waters to understand how everything works before focusing on a larger implementation.”

13. Personalization

Personalization is another growing demand from customers. In the business to consumer world, customers are demanding a more personalized experience, and that is also spilling over into the B2B world.

“Customers want to work with manufacturers that can provide them with unique and customized experiences,” said Hiskey. “Data that is collected via IoT can give manufacturers greater insights into their customers so they can leverage that to provide better experiences.”

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in Florida, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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