ERP is booming, and experts predict the global ERP software market will generate $84.7 billion in the year 2021. The latest innovations are fueling this technology. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the cloud have transformed the way users interact with ERP software. Here's what you need to know about these three tech trends.
1. Artificial Intelligence
You used to read about artificial intelligence (AI) in sci-fi novels, but this technology is now a reality, and it's impacting ERP. Integrating AI into your ERP software might sound like an expensive process, but it will provide you with a long-term return on your investment.
You will be able to automate many of the tasks that you just don't have the time to complete yourself -- accounting, reporting, tracking, etc. As a result, you can focus on other areas of your business and let AI do all the hard work for you.
AI utilizes intelligent software applications to expedite common ERP processes like workflow management and data analysis. Consequently, you will be able to make quick decisions and solve problems more efficiently.
One of the biggest benefits of AI in relation to ERP is automation. Manual data entry is a long and laborious process and often affected by human error. (The average manual data entry error rate is 1 percent.) Automated data entry, on the other hand, improves data accuracy and reduces the amount of time it takes to input information into your ERP system. AI can automatically source data from a wide range of sources and create workflows without any human intervention.
"[AI is] not only pulling data from the system more easily but also analyzing this data and spotting trends beyond what even a team of data scientists can manage," says Toolbox.
2. Machine Learning
Like AI, machine learning can streamline many of the manual tasks associated with ERP. The premise is simple: Machine learning teaches an ERP system to make decisions on its own, without interference from humans.
One of the benefits of machine learning when it comes to ERP software is forecasting. Sometimes, data analysis is a complex beast, and it can be hard to make accurate predictions about your business. With machine learning, however, you can access the latest predictive analytics -- metrics that provide you with in-depth insights and the latest customer intelligence.
If this all sounds complicated, it really isn't. ERP software that incorporates machine learning provides you with tailored reports about your sales, marketing, and customer service processes in one place. This way, you won't have to use several pieces of software. You can find out which products have sold the most over a particular period of time, for example, or which members of staff have upsold the most goods.
Machine learning is also useful for your supply chain processes. If you're fed up with manual stock-checking, let your ERP system optimize inventory management with machine learning. This technology can identify products that need to be re-ordered and make contact with your suppliers.
"Many well-known companies now use machine learning to optimize business processes in ways that might have been deemed science fiction 30 years ago, from customer service inquiries to planning for next month's shelf supply based on satellite data," notes Tech Emergence.
3. The Cloud
The cloud provides you with a whole heap of benefits when you incorporate it into an ERP system like SAP Business One. It allows you to store your important data in a virtual environment -- there's no need for hard drives or other types of physical infrastructure. As a result, you can access data from almost any location in the world, which is perfect if you are away from the office. You can even access data from your smartphone or tablet.
Cloud tech is also important for disaster recovery. If a natural disaster, like a flood or fire, affects your business, you will probably experience downtime -- something that could have a detrimental impact on your business. The cloud, however, lets you access your data from a remote location, so you can get back to business in a quicker timeframe. Keeping your data in the cloud could also improve your security credentials and prevent hackers and cybercriminals from accessing sensitive information about customers and clients.
The future for cloud tech looks promising. Experts predict data storage will grow in the next few years, which means there will be more space for more business owners to store their valuable data.
"As cloud services increasingly become a de facto part of doing business, we expect data storage to grow exponentially in the coming year," says Network World. "To accomplish this, service providers will bring more data centers online with larger-capacity storage equipment."
ERP is evolving at lightning speed. Business owners once used this software to check inventories and manage core processes. Now, ERP can make accurate predictions, streamline workflows and automate complex tasks. It's no wonder, then, that more people are incorporating ERP into their business model.