Imagine if ERP could…

This is a guest blogpost by Dmitri Krakovsky, Chief Product Officer, Unit4

The world of enterprise software has changed dramatically in the last five years. The first-generation of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) played a very important role in changing customer mindsets from running the software to consuming it as a service, but, aside from multi-tenancy, they had not fundamentally re-thought how the software was put together.

Public clouds, machine learning, containerization, the API economy, micro-services, natural language interactions have all become a part of the technological toolbox available to us now. SaaS solutions, going forward, have to take advantage of this technological shift to deliver higher impact business value to their customers.

How business works

Even before the pandemic, businesses were scrambling to become more dynamic to see off the threat of online-only competitors. These vendors have trained us, as consumers, to expect individualised service and products. Whether it is designing your own personalised ski-boot or running shoe, and ordering it to be delivered to your door, companies are fighting to deliver individualised service at scale.

Due to the pandemic and remote working, this digitally-enabled business model is accelerating and spreading from B2C to B2B. Established businesses are being forced to evolve. They must rapidly develop omni-channel strategies to engage customers, build collaboration platforms for virtual teams and spin up new products and services at scale. If they don’t build it, they have to acquire it, which means seamlessly integrating business processes and data to ensure a productive workforce exploiting new revenue opportunities.

The world of ‘auto-magic’

Thankfully, a new generation of software, tools and development models are maturing at exactly the right moment to enable businesses to deal with these challenges. It is now possible to automate processes and interconnect applications so that data can be easily shared. Machine Learning can be used to exponentially increase the usefulness of data and drive substantial automation. It is possible to deliver personalized experiences to users, based on where they are and what they do.

In today’s software world we can “auto-magically” connect applications together and localise applications to a person’s role, intelligently predicting what information they need to make decisions with minimal disruption of their roles.

Weaving the world together

It sounds like a cheesy pop song but using lowcode/nocode technologies, we can create an enterprise mesh, weaving the world together. We can connect workflows. We can connect applications from different vendors into seamless experiences. Imagine the world where, as a user, you do not have to look up and copy-n-paste information from the different systems or wait for someone to do it for you. Imagine the world where you have visibility of customers and businesses across all your systems at the same time. Imagine the world where your financials, procurement, HR and project management systems are seamlessly linked with your communication and collaboration systems, such as Teams or Slack.  It all just works – in real-time – across hundreds of systems, in different countries and industries.

Particularly in the mid-market where resources are tight, this enterprise mesh model enables businesses to automate and improve processes effortlessly to drive productivity.

Building agility by abstracting functionality from the ERP core

Historically, ERP systems have been so complex because they were mirroring the businesses they were serving. If agility is now the priority for ERP the trick is to hide and reduce this complexity. The good news is that these new tools are doing a lot to automate and simplify workflows. Add to this the lowcode/nocode model for developing functionality and ERP is becoming far more agile, as the time and cost to develop applications is dramatically reduced. Now mid-market organisations have the ability to rewrite business processes on the fly, creating individualised applications at scale for all their customers and employees.

Ultimately, we are going to see a world where enterprise applications are more democratised in how they work. That may sound like “ERP is dead” talk, but in the future it will certainly offer customers far more agility, resilience and velocity… and may even be more seamless for users, Now that is a radical idea!

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