The New Normal – Packaged Cloud ERP

The spread of the novel corona virus  has changed life throughout the world. While public interactions have been mostly shut down, digital interactions are becoming a bigger part of our personal and work life.

In this time – and probably for quite a long time after – digital life will be the default set up for most of us. In many industries working from home is the new norm. Even industries which were not really open remote working arrangements before the COVID-19 pandemic must comply to this new business model in order to survive.

Schools now connect students with their teachers digitally and have a full virtual experience with the same collaboration tools we are using for businesses. This also applies for corporate events: many annual conferences are now being offered as a 100% digital experience. And it doesn’t stop there; all industries need to rethink their business model and find ways to innovate.

In an already constantly changing society, such an abrupt shift from what we had considered “normal life” before to a newly established digital life frightens many people. Business owners need to respond to this crisis by stabilizing their organization, protecting their people and eventually, unlocking untapped growth by engaging their customers and partners to move to new adaptive ways of working.

Many businesses are facing major disruption when it comes to their supply chains. This is especially critical for manufacturing companies, but also for almost all the companies which need to protect their end-to-end supply chain processes in order to sustain their place in the market. The changes brought on by the corona virus forces us to find solutions to overcome new challenges around replenishment, stock visibility, and sourcing.

Core processes supporting the supply chain like Finance, Procurement and Inventory Management can really be the difference between surviving today and driving success in the future.   A strong core ERP like SAP Business One or Sage 100 Cloud has never been more important than today to help streamline data models, optimize and transform daily business, and adopt new technical trends. The adoption of these innovations accelerates strategic decision making, which is key to sustain a business during this crisis and provide their employees with the necessary tools to grow into the future.

Just as important, your business needs a partner who has kept up with the marketplace changes. I-Business Network packages the technology created by SAP, Sage, Microsoft and Citrix for small to mid-sized businesses to:

  1. Provide an ERP in the Cloud that is easy to use
  2. Supply the information on any device, anywhere
  3. Provide information in real time for faster decisions
  4. Meet your unique business challenges today and into the future 

For more information on how we can make your business an adaptable intelligent enterprise, contact me at or call your SAP Distribution specialist at 678-401-6244.

Reason #3 Leadership

On January 11, 2020 I published an article on LinkedIn on the 3 Reasons to Partner with a Leading Software Company.  This third blog on the subject is focused on Leadership.

In general I believe a leader is created by their followers.  You follow a leader because you want to, were a commander has authority to compel you to march.  Technology and software development are more linked today than ever and choices are emerging whereas there used to be greater monopoly power.  For example, we have seen growth of Linux operating systems, Mongo, HANA and MySQL databases and other technologies which create more options and better business cases for developers.  Although Microsoft still dominates the office productivity suite, they are also adapting under the pressure of Google and other new competitive pressure.

The largest providers of software and technology are being challenged and have the wherewithal to respond.  We talked about size and adaptability which enable response and the stability you want for your business management platform.  The last attribute for consideration is leadership.

In the second blog in the series on Adaptability we talked about three biggest changes in technology currently affecting ERP being:

  1. Cloud deployment and/or interaction
  2. In memory computing (big data and analytics), and
  3. Artificial intelligence

When looking at the publishers and researching the investment in these trends, you get a sense of how they adapting their products.   Although many publishers will argue that they have products born with these trends, the reality is ERP is evolutionary not revolutionary as most businesses can’t afford the uncertainty or withstand dramatic revolutionary change on a regular and recurring basis.

Some products were born in the cloud and struggled to become viable, where others were born on premise and struggled to make it to the cloud.  The leaders have all made the transition to include cloud, in-memory and AI.  They are all now working toward Customer Experience (CX) and quantum computing or the next technology you may not even have heard of.

I-BN didn’t invent the cloud, but we started hosting Sage 100 cloud in 1999 and SAP Business One in 2003 because we saw the potential for the technology for small to mid-sized business.  We didn’t create Office 365 integration or Azure Active Directory integration, but we saw how incorporating single sign on would improve the customer experience when using our cloud.  In developing our Cloud 3.0 platform, we partnered with CodeLathe for FileCloud, and ManageEngine for cloud service and operations management.  We observe and identify leading products and providers that can be integrated into our cloud platform to make powerful business technology simple.  

I-BN is not the largest cloud service provider, but we are considered a leader in our segment.  By specializing in small to mid-market business management software and the database platforms, we design our clouds specifically for the application, database technology and computing profile to optimize for performance and adaptability.  These “application defined clouds” provide the right balance of performance and flexibility without sacrificing security.  Because we have succeeded for over 20 years, software providers call on our experts to participate in forums, leadership councils and to speak at events.

For more information call one of our solution architects at 678-627-0646 x230, or e-mail a sales representative at

Reason #2 Select a Partner for Adaptability

Adaptability can be viewed from a couple of perspectives; can the software adapt to

  1. Your unique business requirements and
  2. Changes in technology.

Changes in technology are coming at an increasing pace and you see some of the larger providers, like Sage and Microsoft with multiple products in their portfolio, are choosing which products are strategic (able to adapt), and which are legacy (maintained at current technology).   Some are more open in their descriptions while others are less evident by the investment in R&D or marketing.  This is where a trusted adviser can help you make a wise decision for your investment horizon.

The three biggest changes in technology currently affecting ERP are:

  1. Cloud deployment and/or interaction
  2. In memory computing (big data and analytics), and
  3. Artificial intelligence

These three trends are all interrelated. 

  • Cloud deployment or interaction allows a software to use the computing power of large data centers and powerful hardware.
  • In memory computing store the data in memory rather than hard drives for faster retrieval and reporting. This typically requires more expensive hardware, and
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) uses patterns in data to predict and provide insight.

You put these technologies together and your business becomes more adaptable.  When choosing a product for your company, look at the publisher and research if the investment in these trends are more than words on a brochure, but expenditures in research and development as evidenced by adapting their products. 

For example, most traditional software products were originally developed to run on a server with access from a client.   The initial cloud strategy was to “web enable” the client through remote desktop (terminal) services, similar to a service bureau in previous mainframe technology.  Around 2003 Microsoft announced “Project Green” where it would combine the best of its products and create one business management system.  The market reacted poorly because this hurt sale of the legacy products.  However,  the idea was valid and now you have Microsoft Business Central (formerly NAV or Navision) built from the adaptable product and migrating customers from the legacy product.  Smaller publishers often cannot make this transition if their product is not adaptable.

Even with adaptable products, making a technology transition with complex software takes time.  Just as Microsoft took over 15 years with Project Green, SAP has adapted its flagship products over similar time frames.  The large enterprise R3 is now S/4 for HANA and has been leading or cajoling their customers to the best practices they have enabled in the product.   SAP Business One has been in the US market for 20 years and started its journey to cloud when it became truly “hostable” in 2008.  Now 12 years later, the Cloud Control Center provides secure access for multiple customers in a single instance, and the product has both mobile and web native components. 

We started hosting Sage 100 cloud in 1999 when it was called MAS 90.  That software evolved from Masters of Accounting Series (MAS) for the 90’s as a 1980’s Unix  product to today’s 21st century edition.  Although this product continues to adapt and thrive, it is a single tenant product well suited for both on-premise or cloud deployment with deep functionality from close to 40 years of feature development. Although its competitors deem it a “legacy” product, Sage continues to develop cloud connections to payroll, inventory optimization, sales tax automation and other functions.

We chose SAP Business One at the beginning of its cloud journey due to the anticipated and delivered massive investments in research and development.  The Cloud Control Center, HANA in memory platform, predictive analytics and Leonardo AI make this product a platform of choice for companies who seek digital transformation in a rapidly changing marketplace.   

At I-BN we have always believed that working with leading providers like Microsoft, Sage and SAP put us in a great position to provide advice and guidance on your platform for business information.   By specializing in small to mid-market business management software and the database platforms, we design our clouds specifically for the application, database technology and computing profile to optimize for performance and adaptability.  These “application defined clouds” provide the right balance of performance and flexibility without sacrificing security.  For more information call one of our solution architects at 678-627-0646 x230, or e-mail a sales representative at

Reason #1 to Select a Leading Partner – Size and Stability

You may think size and stability are old school evaluation parameters, and you would be correct. But the way we think about size and stability are different today than they were 10 years ago or even 2 years ago. In the past larger publishers used size and stability concerns to create fear, uncertainty and doubt and to discredit small companies entering the market. 

Over the past 20 years we have seen new entrants into business management software, and what we have seen it takes that long to become a stable and viable ERP system.  Some entry level products have been viable in a shorter time frame, but patience and some level of technology expertise is usually required to survive the bugs and growing pains. We first became authorized to represent SAP Business One in 2003, but did not actively promote it until 2008. Even with tremendous investments from the #1 business application developer, it takes time to make a feature rich and stable product. This means that if you are considering an ‘up and coming’ ERP (enterprise resource planning), you should consider where they are in their VC’s road map and business cycle.

In selecting a new platform for your business to run on, you want something that will be there beyond your current planning horizon. 

Over the years our company has represented Microsoft, Sage, Advanced Software and SAP.  We started with Sage back in 1999 when it was State of the Art and Sage 100 was called MAS90.  It was one of the top packages then and it continues to perform well after 30 years on the market.  We dropped the smaller publisher for a number of reasons and replaced them with SAP because of its strong financial position and it’s ability to invest heavily in market research and execute on developing new technology to both meet and create customer expectations.

The Small to Mid-Sized market has never been dominated by one or two large players, but consolidation has increased as evidenced on the ERP Graveyard.  Changing ERP systems is hard, so partnering with a leading provider provides you confidence that the system will continue to serve your needs, generate a return on your investment, and last the test of time.

For more information call one of our solution architects at 678-627-0646 x230, or e-mail a sales representative at

3 Reasons to Partner with a Leading Software Company

I recently came to the realization that I have been implementing business management systems for over 30 years.  In the early days, most of the time it was the company’s first computer system and generating value was relatively easy.   By the time Y2K came around, the ERP boom was over and most companies had been through either implementing a new system or upgrading to prevent the potential disaster.  

The impetus for change today is often growth, aging technology (infrastructure or software), or a desire to become more nimble or effective in our key functions.  Decisions in selection of new systems is often based upon features and functions, ability to tailor to your specific business, deployment method (cloud, in-house, either), and of course, perceived value and cost.  I challenge you to think about choices from three alternative perspectives about the platform and its publisher:

  1. Size and Stability
  2. Adaptability
  3. Leadership

The complete article is published on LinkedIn and in three subsequent posts I am going to explain more about how and why I came to the conclusions that now bigger is better and why we focus on Sage and SAP as our developers of choice and how we build application defined clouds for these publishers.

What is New in SAP Business One Version 10

Business One version 10 is the latest major release from SAP for its small to mid-market product.  SAP continues to deliver on its vision of the Intelligent Enterprise through a strategy centered around:

  • “Consumer Grade Experience” – A user experienced designed to be as easy for business as consumer applications have become.
  • Powerful Platform – Ensuring that the system is open for integrations such as e-commerce, shipping, warehouse management and much more.
  • Built In Integration – Out of the box integrations with applications through the new “integration hub”
  • Cloud – Enabling applications to run smoothly in the cloud by detaching applications from the underlying infrastructure
  • Applied Intelligence – Embedding AI, machine learning, advanced analytics and other tools to create business value.

Version 10 provides significant enhancements to all of these development guidelines.  Some key enhancements include:

  • New Web Client helps with both the user experience and cloud deployment.  The B1 Web Client uses the proved Fiori technology familiar to customers using the HANA version of the product and further simplifies the user experience for managing customers and inventory, creating sales orders and viewing of other sales documents and analysis.   The web client incorporates all the power, felxibility and personalization created in the full client such as user defined tables, fields and objects!
  • Enhanced Office 365 compatibility and the new integration hub make the Business One Platform easier for integrations.  Using the Business One Integration Framework (B1if), the new integration hub reduces the complexity of integrations and includes templates or “scenarios” developed and supported by SAP.  The initial launch of this tool includes 
    • Shopify – Cloud-based e-Commerce platform
    • UPS (United Parcel Service) – Global shipping and logistics provider
    • Nexmo – SMS service
    • Fixer – Exchange rates API
    • Magento – Cloud-based enterprise e-Commerce
    • Salesforce – Cloud-based CRM Suite
    • DHL – Global shipping and logistics provider
    • Mailchimp – Cloud-based marketing and e-mail platform
    • SendGrid – Cloud-based marketing and e-mail platform
    • RFQ – Request For Quotation with SAP Business One 

The SAP Integration Hub is a component of the SAP Intercompany Solution, although you do not need to deploy intercompany to use the scenarios.

Version 10 entered early adopter mode in November 2019.  Early adopter mode follows an extensive testing process by SAP and begins with customers who need the new features and have vanilla or close to vanilla deployments.  As more customers are enabled on the platform acceptance into the program will expand to cover a wider variety of customer use cases.  SAP uses this method of adoption to ensure the solution is rock solid before it becomes “Generally Available”.   SAP doesn’t fix the timeframe, but rather fixes the number of satisfied customers required in each localization (country or region) to determine when the product is generally available.  We would estimate tht SAP Business One version 10 will be generally available around the end of Q1 and full support for all major third party enhancements will be rock solid by mid-year 2020.

For more information about SAP Business One and SAP Business One Cloud powered by I-BN, contact us at 678-627-0646 x230 or e-mail us at