8 Ways Digital Innovation Upgrades Your ERP for Better Business Results

Your ERP is the center of your business, and that makes it a center for potential improvements through digital innovation. Here are 8 ways you can upgrade your ERP.


By Dan Rundle

Why is digital innovation so compelling? Aside from the knowledge contained within your data, equipping your company with the right digital technology promises new, untapped possibilities for growth and revenue. Your ERP sits at the center of that potential because it is the hub for your business processes, incoming data, and analysis.

If you’re operating with a legacy ERP, though, you’re probably already behind the innovation curve. Outdated ERP systems may not have the capabilities to support the needs of your employees and customers, and they often have problems like slow processing speed, insufficient storage, lack of data integration, and redundant code. Team members may create workarounds so they can perform certain tasks outside the ERP, and you may be missing sales opportunities due to poor inventory management, inaccurate supply chain information, or slow data retrieval.

Digital innovation can solve many of those problems, while also opening doors for faster, more powerful insights that support growth.

If you’re still operating the way you always have, however, it may be difficult to see where the hang-ups and gaps are. And that means you are missing out on opportunities without realizing it.

Is Your ERP Ripe for Digital Innovation?

Your ERP is designed to centralize business processes from all the various parts of your company. The problem is that while business has evolved, many ERPs haven’t. Over time, your data may have become isolated in different departmental databases, making it difficult to create useful reports. Your data storage may no longer be sufficient for the size and needs of your company or you may not be able to integrate with newer technologies.

Digital innovation bolsters your ERP function by improving things like:
* Analytics
* Data architecture
* Data integrity
* Integration
* Compliance

Today’s ERP systems leverage cloud technology, mobile integration and Big Data to make your business operations more efficient, productive and profitable. And these technologies aren’t just the domain of industry leaders with billions of dollars at their disposal anymore. Applications like predictive analytics, demand planning, and automation are quickly becoming must-haves if you want to remain competitive, whether your company is a household name or not.

But how exactly does digital innovation improve your ERP function? Let’s take a look.

8 Ways Digital Innovation Can Bolster Your ERP

Any digital innovation you launch should add measurable value to your business. If it doesn’t, it’s not worth the investment. That’s why your ERP is a crucial component of your digital innovation strategy. If your data remains unconnected, it will be difficult to capitalize on the potential of IoT, machine learning, Big Data analytics, and other forthcoming technologies.

Here’s the bottom line question: How does digital innovation deliver better business results? Let’s take a look at some of the critical advantages for your ERP.

1. Data Accessibility

The door to digital innovation swings on the hinge of data accessibility. Data, according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, is the “unseen force” driving technology revolution. If your data is trapped in silos, you won’t have access to the kind of cross-organizational insights that will propel your company past competitors. Just as critically, you won’t be able to implement new technologies that make you more profitable, efficient and productive. That’s why every digital innovation project must look at the integrity and accessibility of data first, before designing and implementing new tools.

2. System Integration

The integrated ERP provides a common database for all of your company’s information. Why is this important? Because many emerging technologies (like IoT, machine learning, and robotics) depend on access to data to deliver the benefits they promise. A robust data warehouse supports the function of your ERP, which in turn helps you integrate all the various systems that manage your operations. When you can access your HRIS, CRM, and SCM data all in one integrated suite, you can run more complex reports that help you lower costs, improve efficiency, and support higher productivity.

3. Data Visualization

Data visualization creates powerful visual representations of the data stored in your ERP, helping you identify trends, understand connections between seemingly unrelated data points, and draw out meaningful insights. For example, you can create a data dashboard that tracks your KPIs using constantly updated graphs and charts. With the data in visual format, you can monitor business metrics in real-time without relying on spreadsheets or lengthy reports. To get those results, you need clean, reliable data and an ERP that stores information in a single, integrated database.

4. Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics uses historical data to anticipate future outcomes. Because your ERP serves as the data repository for all of your company information, it is also a gold mine for discovering patterns and insights that might be missed using traditional data sampling methodologies. For example, you can use data stored in your ERP to predict which products will deliver the highest profit margin or to segment your customer base for more effective marketing and customer service. Manufacturing plants can analyze data in their ERP system to predict shipment arrival times, manage supply chain efficiency, and anticipate equipment repair needs.

5. Complex Event Processing (CEP)

CEP is a field of advanced analytics that looks for cause-and-effect relationships between various interconnected data points and resulting outcomes. It’s an increasingly effective tool for identifying urgent opportunities and risks that involve multiple contributing factors. While CEP holds great potential, it’s a mistake to think that it will replace the ERP altogether. Instead, CEP enriches your analysis of the data stored and managed in your ERP and then makes predictions you can use for better decision-making.

6. Customer-Driven Operations

An integrated ERP allows you to access data from multiple departments so you can get a better picture of how customers interact with your company. With that information, you can identify behavioral trends, sales activity, and customer service needs. But more than just accessing CRM data, your ERP can connect even seemingly unrelated information (such as machine maintenance schedules) with customer demand so you can implement more effective inventory management.

7. Mobile and Social Integration

Integrating your ERP with mobile capabilities and social tools makes your data more accessible to the employees who depend on it. With mobile access, team members can enter data into the system in real time while out in the field and access key information to help them function more productively. Managers can also stay informed and productive with access to KPIs and data analytics at any time. Some of the newer ERP systems also include social collaboration tools that connect employees in a central location to promote collaboration and streamline feedback.

8. Emerging Technologies

A digitally integrated ERP provides the framework for implementing technologies like IoT-enabled analytics, machine learning, AI bots, robotics applications and mass customization. Harnessing the power of these technologies will help companies keep pace with the rapidly evolving competitive marketplace and the changing expectations of consumers.

Conclusion

Digital innovation isn’t just for a few technologically savvy industries or companies. The future of business will depend on real-time insights to deliver competitive advantage. And because just about every piece of technology in existence generates data, your ERP is a critical tool for harnessing the data you collect, making useful predictions, and gaining deeper understanding of your business activities.

It’s time to take another look at the power of digital innovation for ERP systems.

Dan Rundle
Dan Rundle is Worthwhile’s CEO and lives in Greenville, S.C. He believes clear values are crucial to the success of a company and its customers.
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