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It may be a cliché but we are living in an era of unprecedented technological change. The opportunities for business have been broken wide open and top of the leader board for the development of the decade is undoubtedly cloud. But writing another article about cloud would be dull!
We have spent the last ten years talking about the cloud and the opportunities it offered to smaller businesses to take a seat at the table, using their flexibility and agility to find global markets and become players.
So what about the next big story? Digital transformation – a grab bag of ideas with something important at its heart – the fact that technology was now a business tool – an agent of transformation and not something that lived in basements with people in dubious band t-shirts.
That is now a reality too and much has been written in its name.
What is the future for ERP?
So what will we be writing about at the end of 2029 as the decade draws to a close? My colleague Chris Gabriel, Chief Strategy Officer at Sapphire Systems Group, believes that ERP is about to become more than itself, as the technology around it expands and incorporates it into the Digital Operations Platform of the Future. Here are some of his ideas as we throw the ball into the 2030s and see where it lands!
ERP 2030 – The Digital Operating Platform of the Future
ERP: Will it exist in 2030? In true maverick style, Chris thinks we may have ditched the term in 8 years’ time. Enterprises will still need to plan resources, but the wide range of different systems and functions within a business will start to connect and blend. As organisations and whole industries become more highly digitized, the ERP industry is going to have to re-imagine itself to stay relevant. Already automation and the IoT is seeding this change.
What’s more, our business models are being turned upside down and – “as a service” will take over from buying “a thing” – e.g., lighting as a service or transport as a service rather than lights and cars. The most important metric by which we measure success will be outcomes. Customers will be driving the whole thing, accompanied by high expectations. Staff too will want the kind of experiences at work that they get from their technology at home.
The core functionality of ERP will not change fundamentally but may not remain inside a thing called an ERP. All major systems, from IT service management to HR and customer relations software are likely to face huge disruption by the end of the decade, so it’s not just ERP that faces extinction.
We are entering a world where businesses think in workflows not resources. Resources will be able to intelligent plan themselves and humans, helped by automation will spend a lot less time on processing activities and more on tasks that add value.
Hands-Free ERP: The Rise of Automation
If the digitization of society continues in all sectors at the pace we see today, the question is not if hands-free-ERP will happen but when. The reality is that far fewer people will need to interact directly with an ERP system in the future.
For example, at the garage of the future – your car will talk directly to an ERP system to get what it needs – so a part will be pre-ordered and ready when you arrive. This could apply to your phone, parcel or medical implant, or an entire production line. Humans may only get involved in the exceptions.
Transparent ERP: A 100% Traceable World
When we go to the supermarket, we have come to expect a certain level of information about the produce – by 2030 that will have exploded. If you are buying organic meat, for example, you will get 100% transparency about every pesticide or medicine the animal has been on contact with, provided by a fully digitized agriculture sector with all the data readily available.
A reportable world
As sensors start to connect everything, we will be able to report on and quantify everything, including environmental and social impact. The business will be won and lost on this data as consumers and companies start to award their business in line with how a company treats the planet or their staff.
And if you can’t provide total production transparency for your customers including your product lifecycle plans, then you won’t see customers return.
ESG ERP: In-Built Environmental Social and Governance Control
How your business behaves, across environment social or corporate governance will decide how you are taxed, and it will happen inside the operating platforms you use to run your business.
As old school fuels leave our economies so will the tax associated with them. The tax you pay will be linked to your business activity, from the emissions of the ships that bring your goods across the ocean, to how you treat your staff (Office 365 is already well on the way to knowing more about your staff than you do.)
Technology, ledgers, and real-time intelligence [AI] already exist to make this a reality. In the UK we are already seeing the advent of environmental taxation based on business choices.
And finally, Quantum ERP.
Can you imagine closing your books on New Year Eve Close in a Millisecond? – OK, this one is a bit of a long-shot for 2030, but with the rise of quantum computing and the shift of ERP to cloud happening apace, the largest and richest companies in the world will by 2030 have access to operating platforms that can run their business in absolute real-time.
By 2030 a CFO will sign in the New Year at 12:00midnight and by 12:01 their entire year will have been consolidated, closed, and audited by an AI algorithm running on quantum cloud platforms. Imagine the business impact of running your business at this speed! Imagine the power in the hands of a board who knows how their last year ended with absolute accuracy before the new one has begun?
Today quantum is seen as the ultimate data research tool, but within a decade it could be the platform to underpin a new world of hyper-real time ERP.
Are you ready for the new age of ERP?