The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation and now industry is leaning into technology that increasingly automates, integrates and harnesses collaboration between disparate business operations. As it does, IT leaders are putting ERP firmly back on the boardroom table in large enterprises.
The accelerated digitisation of 2020 has seen a rapid increase in the adoption of digital products and services, creating a surge in customer touchpoints that has caused an exponential data explosion. By 2025 the volumes of data that human and machine interactions produce will double every 12 hours.
Global research from Boston Consulting Group shows 80% of businesses believe digital was central to recovering from 2020’s economic slowdown, with recent McKinsey research revealing that best-in-class companies are driving revenues and cost efficiencies through increased automation.
“Because the ERP market has matured and the solution set has transformed, these business technologies are back in the boardroom with the Chief Executive Officer, gaining renewed respect for their ability to integrate, automate and fuel cross-company collaboration,” says Stephen Howe, the co-founder and joint chief executive officer of Times 3 Technologies, a nationally-based IT company that specialises in software and systems that modernise, automate and transform enterprises.
“The research tells us that 30% of companies navigate successful digital transformations, and on the ground we’re seeing what separates the winners from the laggards. The top performers lean deeply into transformation by making smart technology choices, and carefully pivoting business models and processes to align with this,” says Howe who adds that these companies change customer service into customer experience.
“An experience is an orchestration, a bionic marriage of teams and machines and solutions who embrace digital fluency to ensure every single interaction between a company and its customer is integrated into a holistic strategy of continuous improvement,” the solutions specialist says.
With global consultants and research houses insisting that digitalisation is impossible without mature ERP systems, this business solution is now increasingly being used to fuel integrated, successful transformations. “On the ground we see larger organisations hastening and increasing digitalisation programmes and using ERP solutions to manage the surge in digital commerce in both the business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets,” says Howe.
McKinsey reports that best-in-class companies adopting automation to drive sales revenues and enhance cost efficiencies are increasingly using modernised ERP. The global analysts and consultants advise that the business benefits of next-generation ERP solutions bring promising technological and functional capabilities that help unlock the full potential of investments in digital transformation.
“Because ERP brings tighter integration, and a more holistic approach to transformation, and is showing uncommon results where it matters most — in improving customer experiences — we’re more frequently having C-suite conversations about accelerating supply chain integration to improve the customer experience,” says Howe. “We’re also seeing sales teams slice up to 15% off their costs by automating enterprise bids and sales proposals,” says Howe who adds that 2020’s acceleration into digital transformation has been good for his business.
“Because business leaders now appreciate the pains of being untransformed and unable to pivot in a crisis, we’re seeing a renewed appreciation of transformed ERP in the boardroom. The big discussions we’re having are mostly related to customer experience, because radical improvements in customer products and services that are data-backed deliver better outcomes. This is what every enterprise is looking for in a data-driven economy,” Howe explains.
McKinsey advises that enterprises “focusing on digital transformation or advanced-analytics programs are beginning to realise that, to unlock the full potential of their investments, linking the new technologies to their ERP base is essential”.
The analysts offer examples of how ERP can transform sales. These “include an overall cost reduction of 10 to 15 percent and a reduction of order processing time—from confirmed order until confirmed delivery —from two or three days to one or two hours,” McKinsey writes in ‘Agile in enterprise resource planning: A myth no more’.
Howe concurs. “Business is increasingly technologically driven, and rich data is the route to understanding how to affect changes to customer experiences in a sustainable way that integrates with your business model, processes, systems and practices. In this way ERP is part of an orchestration, a movement that makes the entire business better,” Howe says. “This is why best-practice models are showing such great gains in the field of customer experience, and driving breakthroughs that leapfrog revenue growth.”
With data identified as the new ‘capital’ in business, Howe says ERP helps ensure that its value is properly captured and actioned to bring iterations that improve business performance across the board.
This sentiment is echoed by the Boston Consulting Group, which says this about the business solutions: “The decisions that companies make today about their ERP systems will set their trajectory for years to come in terms of operational flexibility and resilience.”
With ERP becoming a firm revenue generator because of its automation and integration powers, Howe confirms that its place on the boardroom table is secure for years to come.