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4 ERP Trends to Watch: Information Integration, BYOD and Security Top the List

Over the past three decades, the world of ERP has seen tremendous growth in size and scope as software options and the amount of data have increased.

“With ERP systems, as with any application, they’ve gotten bigger, more sophisticated, and they are becoming more central to the business,” says Laura DiDio, director of enterprise research, systems research and consulting at Boston-based Strategy Analytics (

“The terms go in and out of vogue, so there are some companies that have recently dropped the acronym altogether,” DiDio adds. Even Sage, one of the major ERP software vendors, has dropped the term from its product line. During the 2015 Sage Summit, the company’s new CEO said ERP stands for “expense, regret, pain” to many customers, so it is removing the term from its corporate language.

Regardless of what you call it, the software that performs ERP functions for enterprises isn’t going away anytime soon. Instead, it’s taking on new meaning as major trends shape its future.

More Information to Integrate

Integration has always been at the heart of ERP, with most systems incorporating finance, human resources and other core enterprise functions since the mid-1990s. Nevertheless, more information must be integrated these days.

“Eighty to 90 percent of today’s data has been created in the last two to three years, and most of that data is unstructured,” DiDio says. “It’s X-rays, social media, text messages, photos, email, chat, and it’s not analyzed.”

DiDio believes older ERP systems must be updated to cope with all of this data: “Right now, traditional ERP systems don’t have the capacity to manage the data deluge. Even those that do often don’t incorporate the correct set of inventive processes to analyze the data in a meaningful way.”

In other words, all of the data in the world won’t do much good for a company’s bottom line without intelligent analysis. To help businesses make smarter decisions, boost efficiency and improve customer service, ERP systems not only need to ingest bigger amounts of data, but also sift through, sort and analyze that data.

As if there isn’t enough information already, the Internet of Things (IoT) and related wearable technologies are creating even more metrics. In the next five years, it’s estimated that the IoT will generate half of the data that an ERP system collects. From vehicle sensors for shipping companies to environmental monitors for the agriculture industry to wristbands at theme parks, the IoT is feeding huge amounts of data back to applications hosted in the cloud.

“Regardless of your industry, you want to identify trends and patterns in your business,” DiDio says. “For example, if you know the peak buying times in terms of the season, weather, time of day and geographic location, you can start doing more targeted responses. If you’re in transportation and you have an ERP system that’s IoT-connected, it can help you manage your inventory levels and marketing strategies better.”

Eve Daniels is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer.

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