Thanks to the recent arrival of multi-national data centres in the country, the cloud has become a business priority, writes Dr Daniel van Eck, Strategy Director at epic ERP. It is an essential tool in helping a company remain competitive in a continually changing digital environment.
Within this context, enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions have a critical role to play, and this is reflected in the momentum of the cloud worldwide. Gartner estimated that the global public cloud services market will grow 17.3 percent this year to $206.2 billion, up from the $175.8 billion in 2018. But this does not mean the cloud is a silver bullet that can solve all organisational challenges. There must still be a fundamental strategic value in making the transition, whether it is through ERP solutions or simply accessing documents collaboratively.
In South Africa, with its growing small to medium enterprise (SME) market, ERP has become something of an anathema. Thanks to how it has been positioned in the past, ERP is viewed as expensive, cumbersome, and inflexible solutions that integrate different business components. And while there is some truth to this, the modern ERP environment is quite a different one, especially for the small business sector.
Part of this can be attributed to the success of the cloud when it comes to delivering more secure solutions more cost-effectively using more computational power than what a business can afford to have on site. Even so, SMEs do not care about the cloud or even ERP as a concept. They just want to get business value as cost effectively as possible with the minimum amount of disruption to existing operations.
If anything, ERP in the digital landscape (within the focus of the cloud) should be viewed as a more intelligent way of managing a business. Irrespective of whether a company is using public, private, or hybrid cloud services, ERP must be able to integrate data and deliver on business expectations with an all-in-one solution that transcends IT knowledge.
ERP is vital in the modern environment driven by data. Consider some of these statistics. By 2020, every person will generate approximately 1.7MB of data per second. Also, by that year, the accumulated volume of big data will increase from the current 4.4 zettabytes to approximately 44 zettabytes (equal to 44 trillion GB). Google now processes more than 40 000 search queries per second. According to InternetLiveStats.com, when the company was founded in 1998, it was serving 10 000 search queries per day.
Furthermore, the much-touted cost benefits of going the cloud route is not something to ignore. With corporate budgets under pressure, everything from human resources to IT spend need to be managed. And with cloud providers offering all these services in a hosted environment, companies can focus less on spending resources on hardware and software upgrades, and more on delivering strategic objectives.
Another significant advantage of going the cloud route, is its ability to scale up or down according to the needs of the business. Instead of purchasing additional servers or expanding an on-site data warehouse, the cloud provider has the required functionality to add capacity.
An ERP world
One of the advantages of migrating to the cloud is that the solutions (irrespective of what function they fulfil) will automatically be updated when new features become available. No more worrying about patching or updating software.
A cloud-driven ERP environment provides a more secure way of benefitting from a digital approach to business. Given the complexities of regulatory compliance, it is all about keeping data safe, available, and online using dedicated resources tailored to the specific needs of the business, irrespective its size or industry sector.