Talk to our experts

0333 241 7689

The evolution of ERP: the new era of applications

Published 13th October 2016

In recent years, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) as we know it has evolved almost beyond recognition.

The term, along with CRM, used to be the default when it came to conversations among IT departments around application deployment. As digital disruption now reaches boardroom level, senior decision makers are seeking to deploy more strategic solutions which will support business objectives, agility, scalability and growth.

Rob Jones, Director of Enterprise Applications at IT Lab, discusses what’s behind this evolution:

The changing role of ERP and broad-reaching applications is symptomatic of a change in user requirement, as well as a change in user demographic. Notably, we have seen a shift in the delivery of these solutions, which are now packaged in ways to suit the requirements of the current boardroom.

Then vs Now

Today’s generation of decision makers has a greater understanding of how to utilise technology to empower their business, as well as greater exposure to technology in their day-to-day lives. As a result, there has been a clear shift towards more focused conversations as companies select certain elements from applications which will deliver real results.

The traditional approach towards applications largely centred on broad-reaching solutions. However, in these cases, businesses only interested in one small aspect of the application had no choice but to purchase the entire package. Now, subscription models have come to the forefront with a ‘buy what you need’ attitude providing businesses with the agility and scalability needed to enable growth trajectories.

The trend of implementing bespoke code is also shifting dramatically. In the past, service providers would use bespoke code to modify solutions to better fit business models. As this comes at a considerable cost, the shift towards the cloud has also brought about single code-based solutions, meaning that organisations are now maintaining more streamlined and effective systems which don’t require modification to ‘fit’ their business.

ERP & the rise of cloud

In terms of the cloud, while it has now become almost a default setting thanks to the rise of software as a service (SaaS), its increasing popularity is also in part down to the changing attitude of businesses. The typically more risk-averse financial directors and accountants who have previously enforced barriers to the cloud are now welcoming it with open arms. While this, to a certain degree, is the result of a generational shift as a new wave of senior level staff move up through organisations, we also believe this reflects the increased need for scalability within businesses.

Alongside the increased need for flexibility and scalability, speed of deployment is now a large factor in a business’s attitude towards software and applications. In a world where immediacy and the need to quickly convert orders to cash means everything, the cloud presents an instantaneous and effective solution. And while these tools have always been available to the big players, the increased accessibility of these solutions means that start-ups and smaller businesses can utilise the same technology and create the same level of system efficiency as the largest household names.

A shift in the technology landscape

We are currently in the midst of one of the most disruptive moments in the application market in years, and while technology itself has experienced unprecedented change, the level of understanding around technology has also changed enormously. Technology is now understood and accepted as a business enabler which can drive real results, improve processes and generate growth.

As a result, the role of the service provider has also shifted. The new attitude of businesses demands a partner that not only speaks IT, but also speaks business, and this consultative approach is critical in ensuring that the right kind of technology supports a business’s objectives. Companies must enable their processes and people to respond quickly, whether that be to changes in the market or to their customers, in order to be successful and capture new revenue opportunities.

Read Part 2: how technology reached the boardroom