In a world where IT is evolving at such a rapid pace and where trends such as the consumerisation of IT are undermining the CIO’s ability to regulate which technologies are used alongside the corporate network.
But IT organisations should be embracing consumerisation and the related Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend as an opportunity rather than seeing it purely as a threat. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in particular has a lot to gain from adopting an open approach to new innovations.
Here are a few technology trends that I believe have the potential to shape the future of ERP, if implemented correctly:
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept that provides objects, such as cars and electrical appliances, with the capacity to transfer data over a network without requiring human interaction.
In the case of ERP, there are devices that can be attached to tools and even vehicles, feeding data back to applications hosted in the cloud. Information such as location, usage and performance can then be easily accessed, allowing organisations to identify issues such as unused assets are, or if maintenance is required.
This was one of the focal points at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) and Gartner has predicted that the wearable technology market will be worth $10 billion by 2016.
While much of the attention generated by wearables has focused on consumer propositions like fitness trackers, there are also a host of applications in the workplace. Augmented reality-enabled glasses like Google Glass will enable hands-free operation, which can be of great benefit for many blue-collar workers.
Even smart watches represent a step forward from PDAs and smartphones since they are more easily accessible and are less likely to be misplaced or dropped. Devices designed to monitor external factors like UV exposure or heat can help improve management of employee health.
Big data analytics
Organisations have become more dependent on IT and, as a result, they have accumulated a wealth of data that they have traditionally underused. As the IoT connects tools and employees to the internet, the data they gather is set to grow exponentially. By employing analytical tools, organisations can begin to use this data to make accurate predictions that form the basis of a more intelligent approach to business strategy.
The age of context
With businesses increasingly operating in a multichannel world, using technology that understands the situation you’re in, what information you would like to see, and how you would like to see it, will begin to have a real impact on performance.
PCs and mobile apps will increasingly integrate context-aware functionality to anticipate user needs and improve the efficiency of day to day tasks. For example, a field service engineer will automatically receive all the asset data, job instructions and customer relationship history as soon as they arrive at the repair site.
Opening business to innovation
Over the next few years, technology like wearables, the IoT and big data analytics stand to reinvent business processes across many different industry sectors. Organisations need to keep an eye on technological advances, even those that may seem to be irrelevant.
Recent developments have shown that solutions which first appeared to be designed for consumers are increasing – finding profitable applications within businesses.
By taking an innovative approach to the adoption of technology, businesses stand to save time and increase productivity; results that will be reflected in the bottom line of enterprises that choose to embrace new technologies.
By Gawie van der Merwe, Managing Director, IFS South Africa