Enterprise computing, but not as we know it

Profile picture for user Sebastian Reichmann By Sebastian Reichmann August 24, 2015
Better reporting and predictive analytics will transform how users experience and gain value from enterprise computing, writes Unit4's Sebastian Reichmann

Businessman in stream of data and light with blue background © Sergey Nivens – Fotolia.com
Smart analytics is changing our lives. Although we can’t see it, it is prevalent in every app and smart device and finding its way into our homes, our cars and our everyday lives. For the first time we can start to utilize the huge amounts of available data all around us currently lost to cyberspace. By linking it to our personal needs and preferences it will support all types of day-to-day questions and tasks. It will impact all of us in a big way by making our lives easier; better even.

Not before time, we’re starting to see this technology penetrate the systems we use at work too. As our expectations from business software have grown, it’s no longer good enough for them to simply save, store and present data. We expect them to take on a larger share of the work and provide a more intelligent user experience for everyone. The addition of advanced, complex analytics to business software such as ERP is making it much easier for employees to use and gain value from these platforms and will do so increasingly in the future.

This paves the way for huge leaps in productivity across all sectors and disciplines. And especially significant for services-oriented businesses, who depend heavily on their people’s ability to find knowledge, understand the business and provide exceptional services to customers.

A whole new way of looking at ERP

One of the biggest benefits of this emerging development is that having "smarter” ERP can save time for users. It provides the ability to automate steps and take away processes from us that the system can manage itself. Decision-making will be intelligent because the system will make suggestions based on historical experiences and existing objectives, facilitating huge amounts of data from financial data to domain specific data or even social data and sentiment. Through this data the system can put context to business problems and successes, predicting the likely outcomes.

This new world of enterprise computing helps to create a great place to work for employees, because everything in the workplace is focused on people and how they can get things done. Think about how consumer products evolved in recent years creating new user expectations. For example, smart cars and navigation apps can remember individuals’ driving preferences, and smart homes facilitate residents’ habits and use the local weather forecast to optimize energy consumption. Using GPS data from mobile phones, these connected devices will heat up the house as you begin your commute home from work and save energy when you are working late. This triangularization of data is enabling new types of business processes and models that are capable of redefining whole industries.

These developments are enabling a whole new way of looking at ERP from a user standpoint. We’re calling this new breed of applications Self-Driving ERP.

Analytics has come of age

Unit4 self-driving car on coast road 700px
Analytics for business has never held so much promise as it does today. Reporting systems need to help meet challenges of a highly competitive and dynamic business environment by providing agile self-service support and stronger analysis capabilities that let business users identify ways to enhance operations and find new business opportunities. New infrastructures for analytics orchestration are enabling an industrial usage of advanced analytics as part of standard software and service offerings.

Traditionally, the strongest focus of reporting and analysis has been on financial data. This has been the common basis for approaches to performance management when combined with planning and budgeting capabilities. But rising customer demands, the need for quicker decision making and much stronger global competition is driving the need for operational excellence and a greater use of leading indicators provided by analytics.

Ever wished for a crystal ball?

One thing current enterprise apps are still missing is the ability to look into the future. This is where advanced analytics can provide a solution by identifying historical patterns that can be used to make predictions about what will happen and indicate the likely outcome of decision alternatives.

Practical examples include the ability to create ideal project management models that help organizations win new business bids and ensure profitability based on real historical experience data in your systems; and the ability to provide indications of the customers that are most likely to leave for a competitor. Advanced analytics can also help companies better detect registration errors or fraud attempts automatically, and this can lead to significant savings.

With advanced analytics as part of ERP platforms, companies can unleash the value of one of their largest untapped value resources: their business data. They can turn this data into deeper insights into the business, customers and the market, enhancing decision making and ultimately improving business performance.

As software developers find new ways to embed advanced analytics into their systems as standard, mass adoption will drive new types of services and more intelligent user experiences. For the first time users will see all the benefits smart analytics can deliver via systems such as Self-Driving ERP. This is what is changing enterprise computing. It is bringing ERP out from the back office and making it relevant and usable for everyone in the organization.

Image credit: Businessman in stream of data and light with blue background © Sergey Nivens – Fotolia.com; self-driving car by Unit4.