With an intelligent ERP, a company can embark on a digital transformation strategy to set them up for the future of business – in five steps.
Does your business have the technology foundation necessary to support growth in the digital economy?
SMB Group research shows that 82% of small and midsize businesses agree that using new technology effectively is key to business growth—and a similar percentage agree that technology is reshaping their businesses and industries.
At the same time, many aren’t prepared to act. Our research revealed that just 19% of SMBs say they have a well-defined digital business strategy, and just 24% are preparing their businesses for a digital future.
Let’s take a closer look at the problem and why it’s time to consider the advantages of ERP.
Disconnected & disjointed: Missing out on the advantages of ERP
Using technology to work smarter, not harder is critical to streamline operations, improve productivity, attract new customers, and stay ahead of changing trends.
However, it can be difficult to get the value your business needs from technology. Many SMBs lack the resources to figure out what solutions they need and chart a path that will provide them with the outcomes they desire.
SMBs also can struggle to integrate new digital technologies with existing systems. This isn’t surprising when you consider that 80% currently rely on manual data entry, batch file uploads, and/or custom code to meet all or part of their integration needs.
If your business is using disjointed solutions, it’s likely that people are spending too much time manually integrating and reconciling information. This leaves less time to focus on customers and the innovation that’s needed to move the business ahead. Information can easily slip through the cracks, making it all too easy to get blindsided by the unexpected.
Here’s where modern ERP can help.
ERP advantages: Solving the innovation problem
Most SMBs recognize the need to tackle the integration problem: 43% of SMBs are currently investing to integrate their business applications, and another 33% plan to do so, our research shows. But integrating disconnected solutions “after the fact” is often difficult and expensive—and is unlikely to provide enough agility required to outflank the competition.
This reality is driving more businesses to consider pre-integrated, intelligent ERP solutions to remove friction, streamline workflows, and get real-time insights to respond quickly to customer, supply chain, and operational trends.
Modern, intelligent ERP systems are built on unified, extensible platforms. They automate business processes across core areas such as financials, order fulfillment, payments, inventory, supply chain, human resources, marketing, sales, service, and more.
Applications within an ERP suite are integrated with each other, so business-critical information is updated in real-time across related business processes, such as order to cash. This reduces the need for redundant data entry, speeds up repetitive processes, and ensures everyone has the same information.
ERP suites also offer a consistent user interface across applications, making it easier for employees who work in different parts of the business, or for those who need to retrain for a new role.
Intelligent automation is poised to change how we work. How can businesses prepare for the future and leverage next-gen ERP to succeed?
Automation and better data = better decisions
Although ERP solutions offer a lot of advantages and functionality, most allow for a phased approach. You can start by automating key areas, such as financials, payments, and supply chain, and add additional capabilities as you need them in an incremental, yet integrated way.
ERP vendors are also building artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI and ML) into their platforms to turbocharge the automation and intelligence that these solutions provide. As a result, you can reap the benefits of these technologies from within the ERP—without having to become an AI and ML expert.Some of the top advantages that an intelligent ERP suite offers include:
- Streamlined business processes with workflow automation. Modern ERP systems are designed to connect the dots between people and processes within and across business functions. Information flows freely, in real-time. This cuts repetitive, manual data input and reconciliation tasks; decreases the chance of human error; and speeds up processes. Intelligent ERP also provides users with proactive alerts to help spot potentially risky situations. For example, they can detect when stocks need to be replenished, and automatically trigger reorders.
- Better decision making with real-time, comprehensive data. No more dueling spreadsheets or “seat of the pants” decision-making. You enter data just once into the ERP system, and it’s updated in real-time across different modules. Users get consistent, accurate information—which improves collaboration and speeds decision-making. This holistic view can help you close the books more quickly, identify and fix customer service problems before they spiral, and assess employee performance.
- Next-generation automation through robotic process automation (RPA). RPA uses AI to automate routine and repetitive tasks and processes with bots programmed to replicate how humans would carry out tasks, such as entering information in spreadsheets or transferring data among multiple systems. ERP with RPA capabilities could, for example, help you to automatically determine product attributes by reading and interpreting description text, or predict supply delivery delays and suggest steps to take to minimize production impact.
An open, extensible cloud-based platform approach empowers intelligent ERP vendors—and their partners—to easily add new functionality to their offerings, providing flexibility for the future.
The business benefits of robotic process automation include digitization, cost reduction, increased productivity. RPA is also simple to use.
The high price of doing nothing
It’s easy to become complacent. After all, change is hard. And, as the rate of change in technology and business accelerates, the ability to detect, manage, and stay ahead of change is increasingly linked to business survival and growth.
In fact, the cost of sticking with outdated, disconnected business solutions may be one most SMBs can’t afford.
The advantages of ERP can put your business on solid footing to work smarter—and to adjust, improve, and capitalize on the inevitable changes that lie ahead. It’s time to examine how well current technology strategy and solutions serve the business today—and assess whether they’ll be able to provide the agility your business needs to thrive in the future.