The tech innovations you can expect in 2022 will be a natural progression of digital transformation – the very processes that gained momentum at the start of the pandemic in early 2020. The business world had little choice but to adapt to the new normal and the next normal that called for more stringent business continuity and risk management strategies. While ERP was relatively slow to change, it became clear that connectivity, interoperability, and agility were must-haves for any organization intent on surviving a now dynamic and complex environment, where every business decision could potentially “make it or break it.”
Now more than ever, companies are increasingly relying on ERP to manage their business operations, by integrating new technologies and supporting a broader range of front and back-end functionality. What’s more, organizations are now required to quickly adapt the way they plan, execute, and measure their performance to meet the requirements of a fast-changing business landscape, and adopt new, critical operational methodologies to meet their strategic business goals.
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Here are some of the ERP trends we’ll continue to see in 2022, setting us on a path to greater flexibility in our now data-driven, dynamic and multi-dimensional business environment.
Self-service & low/no-code software
Borrowed from the consumer world, and fuelled by months of quarantine, “self-service” is making headlines again. Simply put, if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will. As a result, the notion of self-service ERP is gaining popularity, as it offers the independence that was once considered unachievable. Self-service resource planning enables business users to create customized dashboards and configure data sets and processes, from dynamically defining field values to creating reports, even if they don’t have tech skills, and without the help of developers.
The pandemic not only spurred digital transformation, but it also accelerated the adoption of low-code and no-code software, driven by organizations’ desperate need to adjust their business models and add new customer services, especially in terms of remote working. Low-code (or no-code) allows you to choose from a menu of options or go through a plug & play configuration process to meet your specifications, rather than starting from scratch and having to rely on developers to get the job done. Compared to traditional legacy development/change management cycles, pre-configured building blocks that facilitate functionality components, make it easier and faster to modify, create and publish applications, without requiring IT support.
As the business management software ecosystem continues to evolve and remote working becomes the norm, the emphasis on using self-service capabilities, powered by low-code technology, is here to stay, to further ensure business insights and accurate decision making.
From headless commerce… to headless ERP
Retail chains have always been at the forefront of innovation. Due to constant communication with consumers and the need to remain relevant, the retail industry frequently dictates future trends in both the physical and digital domains. It comes as no surprise, then, that retail was the first industry to embrace the integration of a headless infrastructure to create a unified customer experience across all channels.
Today, most users use only partial system functionality, such as shop floor tasks, inventory management or e-commerce sales. The idea of a headless architecture preaches for full separation between the business logic and data and the development of task-specific interfaces, independently designed and implemented from the back-end. In other words, the focus is on APIs, rather than UIs. By implementing a headless architecture, complex operations suddenly become simple and user experiences are tailored to provide each end-user with a personalized, cross-organization interface, from warehouse employees and sales teams to human resources, store managers, and customers.
Cloudy, with a chance of ERP
Cloud-based ERP is not the latest trend, but it still ranks as one of the most revolutionary. Cloud computing introduced a whole new world of ERP, enabling cloud-hosted options that drive more efficient work practices, save time, reduce total cost of ownership, and help companies to change the way they work. Despite the data security concerns that accompanied the industry’s transition to the cloud, it was successfully adopted, thanks to the growing availability of mobile platforms and increased security.
Open, flexible and scalable cloud applications led the market to be dominated by SaaS ERP solutions. Many organizations that still use on-premise ERP are starting to understand how and why they’re getting left behind. Highlighted by the pandemic, operational limitations, from inflexibility and costly scaling, to lack of innovation and partial collaboration, forced many businesses to operate remotely, deeming on-premise solutions obsolete. Cloud ERP in 2022? Yes, yes, and yes.
The race to automate: Machine learning & AI
In a business world dominated by a culture of instant gratification, processes automation tips the scales in favor of those who use it to “achieve more with less.” At the forefront in the race to automate almost every business management process, is the integration of AI in every consumer-driven domain, backed by AI’s power to optimize data. Technologies such as face recognition combined with personal preferences data, allow the physical world to become a personalized experience, much like an e-commerce store, by becoming another data gathering channel instead of just an endpoint.
In 2022 and beyond, the growing AI trend will echo across all ERP features, including industry-specific solutions, such as manufacturing and distribution. AI technologies, including machine learning, are helping organizations draw additional value from the ever-growing volumes of collected data. AI continues to empower companies to gather new, actionable insights, enhance their operational processes, and best use their reams of business data.
Better business results with IoT integration
Over the past few years, the Internet of Things (IoT), known as direct machine integration combined with vast amounts of data have shaken the ERP landscape, introducing new possibilities for operational excellence and workflow automation.
IoT integration plays a big part in the business automation revolution, both in terms of end-level computing, data centers, and customer experience. IoT integration allows ERP systems to gather, store, and process unprecedented amounts of data collected from new, external endpoints in real-time, without developing connectors to external sources. This data is used by industries to obtain accurate and relevant user information and address their unique requirements, and demands. As a result, we’ll undoubtedly see the rapid advancement of IoT integration into the ERP ecosystem, as organizations continue to demand advanced asset management capabilities, greater efficiency, improved forecasting, real-time insights, and enhanced interoperability, all thanks to IoT.
Mobile = Stable
In a world where we can do (practically) everything on our mobile phones, from paying bills to turning on the lights before we get home, we’ve grown “attached” to instant information and functionality, literally, at our fingertips. Mobile and real-time communication are two driving forces powering the IT domain, prompting ERP systems to get on board and offer the same convenience and flexibility to… carry your business with you.
Much like cloud ERP, mobile ERP apps gained popularity during the global lockdown, when businesses started to explore newer ways to leverage mobile tools as an extension of their ERP system. With mobile ERP, users have the convenience of accessing their ERP via their mobile device, with the same functionality as from their desktop. Today, with the surge in remote working, more and more organizations are onboarding mobile ERP, where it’s fast becoming making a necessary operational tool. Mobile ERP solutions drive system visibility and accessibility companywide, accelerate business processes, boost productivity, and save time, resources, and costs across the board. Mobile ERP apps are designed to power operations “on the go,” with apps including mobile sales force, service, proof of delivery, warehouse, point-of-sale (POS), purchase approval, employee attendance apps, and more.
The two-tier ERP imperative
The two-tier ERP approach essentially uses “two systems” to address the needs of large organizations with multiple locations and/or subsidiaries. This technology allows for master data management, or rather, a single source of accurate data for the entire enterprise. Large organizations that adopt a two-tier ERP strategy, maintain their corporate ERP solution to manage day to day operations, while their smaller or remote business units, use a second tier ERP solution to handle their unique requirements, such as location-specific regulations, compliance, and tax codes. This method allows organizations to achieve business flexibility, agility, and strategic alignment, at a lower cost. Two-tier ERP systems are gaining popularity, as global companies are beginning to understand, that contrary to the popular expression, more, is sometimes, well… more.
The bottom line? We will surely see an increase in the integration of enterprise ERP solutions with second-tier, web-based ERP tools that provide global subsidiaries or branches with specific regional and vertical industry tools and functionality.
Food for thought…
In the race to become more efficient and revolutionize the way businesses operate and interact, ERP will continue to evolve, and create new technologies and operational workflows to adapt and bend to the winds of change. We will certainly witness more emerging trends in 2022 and beyond, because evolution never stops, it accelerates. Perhaps here, it’s fitting to remember the words of Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.”
About the author
Efrat Nakibly is Chief of Marketing and Customer Success for Priority Software – a leading provider of flexible, scalable, agile, and open cloud-based business management solutions.