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10 ERP Trends to Bear in Mind in 2018

| Editor: Janina Seit

Digitization has arrived in medium-sized companies. Depending on how much companies deal with this topic, completely new priorities for ERP users are set to emerge this year.

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Digitization has arrived in medium-sized companies. Depending on how much companies deal with this topic, completely new priorities for ERP users are set to emerge this year.
( Source: Pexels / CC0 )

The ERP manufacturer Proalpha has investigated numerous customer projects and studies with a focus on to the latest developments in medium-sized businesses. The cloud, mobility, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) are applied more and more frequently. Therefore, the majority of companies will be working intensively on putting these technologies into practice, this year. In addition, the first experiments involving artificial intelligence and machine learning are being conducted. Proalpha has identified the following ten trends in 2018:

1. The Customer Is Even More Important

Because products are becoming more and more comparable in international competition, many manufacturers are rediscovering an old virtue: good customer relations. It is easier to generate follow-up orders from satisfied customers — provided you are aware of the common history. Linking the management of customer relationships (CRM) with the order and product file of a customer (ERP) is essential to do that. An increasing demand for CRM functionality is also mirrored by the results of the market survey ERP 2017, which has been presented by Trovarit and the Research Institute for Rationalization at RWTH Aachen University.

2. Medium-Sized Businesses Rely on Industrial Solutions

Mapping individual business processes and industry-specific data in an ERP system requires extensive customization. In the past, too many adaptations resulted in high costs — the same applies to the adaptation of your own processes to other systems. Having learned from experience, medium-sized and large companies are now looking for solutions that already cover many industry-specific requirements, such as Proalpha, which offers the respective industry components.

3. Digital Document Management on the Advance

The fear of further interfaces that require a lot of effort to be maintained or additional information storage has so far prevented many SMEs from investing in a document management system (DMS). With an increasing degree of digitization, the situation has changed. In September 2017, Bitkom presented a study according to which one in five small and medium-sized enterprises plans to allocate more money to the digital department. The options range from countless individual solutions to complete ERP solutions such as Proalpha, which already integrate a DMS.

4. Automated Management Increases Productivity

The aim for greater efficiency in administration is closely connected with document management systems. Many companies try to automate administrative processes as much as possible. According to a report published by the consulting firm Accenture, most CFOs have already recognized the need for digital transformation. Innovative companies already ensure faster end-to-end transaction processing — from invoice receipt to fully automated invoice processing. In this way, manual efforts can be reduced by up to 90 %.

5. Sustainable Growth: Cloud Becomes Preferred Solution

Demand for on-premise systems is still high, Bitkom recently noted, but the trend is clearly heading towards cloud solutions. Companies can choose from several proven application models — from hosting the ERP software in a secure data center to renting software-as-a-service solutions. Especially when it comes to connecting overseas branches, the cloud offers the required flexibility. The increasing internationalization will therefore give the cloud further impetus.

6. Increasingly Improved Analytical Methods Focus on Data Quality

A KPMG study shows that companies become increasingly aware of the value of their data. They analyze their constantly growing data with modern tools to adapt their business models accordingly. But trust in data quality can still be optimized. Approximately one in three companies doubts the reliability of their own data analyses, says the KPMG report. In addition to interactive cockpits, companies urgently need data quality management solutions. Tighter legal requirements will further fuel this trend.

7. Focus Year for Compliance

2018 will be a compliance or data year. The end of the transitional period for the EU's basic data protection regulation (EU-DSGVO) in May 2018 attracts a great deal of attention — not only concerning the EU-DSGVO, but also the issue of compliance as a whole. Existing laws and regulations such as the GoBD are also very demanding. Companies that are uncertain should seek advice. Otherwise there could be unpleasant surprises during the next audit.

8. Mobility is Essential

Mobile working and the instantaneous data transfer to subsequent processes not only shorten throughput times. They also make processes more reliable. This is why mobile solutions are currently gaining acceptance on a broad front: from the service portal for technicians in the field, to shop floor data collection in the warehouse, to the precise tracking of product carriers in production. In this area, the number of use cases and implemented solutions will continue to increase.

9. The Internet of Things Becomes Mainstream

The "Internet of Things", or IoT, is becoming more and more popular in practical applications. Companies are increasingly realizing initial projects and gaining experience in the use of networked, smart sensor technologies. Predictive Maintenance has taken on a leading role in this area. These solutions promise a first, solid return on digitization.

10. First Steps Towards Artificial Intelligence

German medium-sized businesses are cautious when it comes to hyped trends. A few years ago, this attitude concerned industry 4.0, and the same is now applying the topic of artificial intelligence (AI). Pioneers are already experimenting with AI and self-learning systems. New technologies always offer the opportunity to become more productive and relieve employees of routine tasks, as first experiences with interactive language assistants show.

This article was first published by MaschinenMarkt. Executive editor: Robert Horn.

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