ERP Adaptability can be viewed from a couple of perspectives; can the software adapt to
- Your unique business requirements and
- 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.
Current Challenges to ERP Adaptability
The three biggest changes in technology currently affecting ERP are:
- Cloud deployment and/or interaction
- In memory computing (big data and analytics), and
- 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.
Adapting Legacy ERP to Cloud
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 business management software 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 cloud platforms 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, or e-mail an I-BN representative at email@example.com.