It’s safe to say that most of us are hoping 2021 will be a very different year from 2020. But what might it mean for the ERP industry? What trends and changes can we expect to see over the next few months – whether as a result of the changes wrought by the pandemic, or simply fast-evolving technology? Here are some key ideas.
Trend 1: Hybrid cloud – from niche to normal?
Cloud-based deployment models are nothing new, of course, and cloud-based ERP software has been around for a good few years. But 2021 could well see a major increase in the take-up of cloud-based ERP – particularly among smaller businesses, who have previously been locked out of enterprise-grade ERP because of cost.
With the global cloud computing market forecast to reach an incredible $832.1 billion by 2025, there is plenty of space for the flexibility, agility and cost-effectiveness of cloud-based ERP to reach new heights. But this won’t be all in pure cloud solutions. In fact, hybrid models combining the strengths of both on-premise and cloud-based ERP could be the fastest-growth area of all. Accenture’s 2019 ERP Trends report revealed that 10% of companies were using hybrid ERP tools, with that figure set to rise. A particular kind of hybrid ‘two tier’ model may increasingly be seen in larger organisations, whereby the core business continues running a legacy on-premise ERP solution, whilst subsidiaries and smaller business units make use of an integrated, yet separate, cloud-based tier.
Trend 2: Artificial intelligence (AI) acceleration
AI is one of the hottest topics in the wider enterprise IT sector, so it is perhaps little wonder that business leaders and ERP providers alike are exploring how AI and machine learning could enhance ERP solutions. 2021 could be a truly explosive year in terms of AI and ERP combined.
What might this look like in practice? Traditionally, generating business intelligence from ERP systems has required add-ons and specialist modules added to core platforms – but 2021 could see the mainstreaming of so-called ‘iERP’ technology – that is, intelligent ERP technology. These solutions incorporate inbuilt AI and machine learning capabilities, so that they can learn and improve the more data they gather – and inform tangible and even automated improvements to business processes.
Trend 3: Going mobile
We’re all aware of just how front and centre remote working has become over the past year – which means, in turn, that the ability to deliver core business information and applications to mobile devices – and, in many cases, to collect core business information from mobile devices – has become a real imperative.
This applies in the world of ERP too. Whilst many ERP providers have enhanced their mobile offerings in recent years, 2021 could be the year in which a mobile-first approach is normalised. Accessing core ERP functions on mobiles and tablets can make for far greater efficiencies – as well as an ease in provisioning the flexible working practices that many hope will stay long after the pandemic. Meanwhile, enabling the mobile collection of core data to feed into the ERP system can make for more real-time data analysis and smarter, richer business intelligence. Mobile dashboards can grant employees of any level an instant snapshot of business status, focused on their particular function or specialism. In other words, ERP going mobile isn’t just about enabling staff to work from anywhere, anytime – it’s also about improving business visibility.
Trend 4: Personalisation and specialisation
One-size-fits-all ERP solutions are likely to generate less enthusiasm in 2021. 2020 has taught businesses just how important it is to be robust and resilient, agile and flexible, and able to adjust operations rapidly in line with changing circumstances. But different businesses achieve this in very different ways, according to their size, scope and sector.
ERP solutions can play an important role in enabling this agility by offering truly personalised, business-specific intelligence and functionality. AI and machine learning, as outlined above, will play their part, but so too will ‘mix and match’ ERP models, whereby different modules and plug-ins can be selected to create an absolutely bespoke model.
Want more insight on emerging ERP trends for 2021, and how they could enhance your business? Get in touch with us today.