Those who make a concerted effort to identify and leverage emerging trends outperform their counterparts. As I want to make sure my clients are at the forefront of this path, I pay attention to emerging trends among my best clients. Anytime I’ve seen a common thread among the best, it has signaled a noteworthy change.

I’ve noticed that although executives are not completely comfortable with the current new normal business environment (as who knows what taxes, health care impacts or other items will be thrown into the mix tomorrow), they are starting to think about investing in select projects again – ones with a substantial return on investment and/or required to support their long-term strategy.

Thus, ERP system upgrades and new implementations are on the rise. Therefore, why not get ahead of the curve and think about the hot ERP trends. The top ones that pop to mind include: 1) The Amazon effect. 2) ERP in the Cloud. 3) Big data. 4) CRM 5) Flexibility 6) Mobility 7) ERP for small business

  1. The Amazon effect: Amazon has been making a splash everywhere you turn. There are distribution centers within a short proximity to key markets. Sunday deliveries. Reinvented publishing. The bottom line is that customers expect 24/7 access and quicker delivery with exceptional service, and you must figure out how to make it happen! Thus, e-commerce is no longer a “nice-to-have”; instead, it is a “must-have” in your ERP system. Your customers will want to order, understand their order status and provide feedback at any time, any day of the week.
  2. ERP in the Cloud: People are becoming more comfortable with the idea of ERP in the cloud. There is less complexity, less work, less skills and often times less cost required while accessibility is increased and your ability to recover from a disaster is improved. The “big guys” like SAP and Oracle are going down this path and so they are seeing enough advantage to invest.
  3. Big data: Although big data is “old news”, it remains “new news” in terms of implementation and utilization. We are living in an information overloaded society, and so concepts like big data will be essential in making sense of it all. Business intelligence can be utilized to better understand customer trends and how to optimize inventory and margins – who wouldn’t consider this approach?
  4. CRM: Since I’ve always focused part of my practice on ERP as it’s an essential tool for manufacturers and distributors, and I have a unique skill of zeroing in on connection points (which is cornerstone in selecting, designing and implementing systems), I’ve noticed that a particular connection point has arisen as a key contributor to bottom line business results – CRM (customer relationship management) functionality. You must start with the customer to succeed; thus, better understanding your customer relationships is a great place to start (CRM).
  5. Flexibility: Old (often called legacy) systems are rarely flexible. To succeed in the fast pace of the new normal business environment, you must be flexible. Those who can introduce new products rapidly, adjust capacity rapidly, change items on the fly etc. will thrive. Your ERP system is the backbone.
  6. Mobility: Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a cell phone? Even my parents cannot remember how they survived without a cell phone. They don’t keep track of appointments, look up directions and utilize advanced functionality but they understand that it exists – and so they utilize their resources in those situations (call their kids). Being connected 24/7 requires mobility. It should be fundamental to your ERP system.

  7. ERP for Small Business: ERP is no longer just for medium to large size companies. In my recent experience with ERP selection projects, the cost is minimal vs. the automation and speed advantages it will provide to even a small business. Do customers care if you are small or big when they want an order status at 8pm on a Sunday?

Of course, understanding these trends is a great first step; however, it is useless unless you put together a plan of action on what is noteworthy for your company and your situation. What will you do differently tomorrow? Many of the best inventions were invented by someone else long before the known inventor; however, they did not act upon the goldmine.