Once the domain of large enterprises, the cloud has caused a fundamental shift in the way ERP is delivered. Cloud-based offerings from the likes of Microsoft and SAP, and more recent solutions, such as Netsuite, were created natively in the cloud, transforming the need to implement large, inflexible on-premise solutions. Now accessible to smaller companies, cloud-based ERP is being used to support business growth through integrated solutions, such as e-commerce in new ways. But how has the cloud impacted ERP and integrated solutions like e-commerce? And what’s on the horizon for these technologies?
In the past on-premise ERP incorporated all the business’ systems throughout the organisation. More recently, however, we witnessed companies moving away from a single, monolithic solution and instead reverting their attention back to specialised, single systems. If we look at CRM as an example: while once standalone; then incorporated into the ERP solution; the increasing focus on customer experience has driven it to become a business’s main customer information management system. This fundamental shift and rejection of the single solution approach is offering companies more appropriate and beneficial platforms from which to drive organisational growth.
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The cloud offers a platform to integrate all these component systems, making it easier for businesses to build flexible solutions that fit their specific needs. They can upgrade single systems quicker and more effectively using the cloud, and only have to upgrade the components that they need. This has helped companies overcome huge hurdles when looking to deploy new solutions across the business.
Innovations in cloud delivery, such as Dynamics 365, has also made it easier for businesses to implement ERP systems and then add any additional tools they might need quickly and easily. If we look at Dynamics 365 and Sana, in many ways, it’s become like our phones. Businesses can use the application, decide if they like it, and if not, they just delete it. Making that first step towards delivering a new technology service to the business becomes much simpler.
Businesses are also able to self-provision applications and ensure they’re using systems that are completely up to date, providing them with a way to easily back up data for example. It also presents smaller businesses with the benefit of being able to use trusted enterprise-class systems such as Microsoft Azure; which they can now attain at a much lower cost than on-premise.
So what’s next for the relationship between the cloud, e-commerce and ERP? We’re currently seeing the development of micro-services within the cloud as a way for businesses to access more highly specialised apps. If you look at a cloud service such as Microsoft Azure, businesses can use different Microsoft apps hosted on the platform. Then as more and more specialised apps, such as Sana, are brought into the cloud, businesses can integrate more closely with other tools that share the same cloud service space.
This is already happening in the consumer space with the rise of voice-controlled assistants for example, where apps are drawing on each other to greater benefit. It makes sense to use the micro-services within the cloud to enhance technology solutions in line with customers’ needs, and with greater speed and agility.
These microservices are going beyond simply moving systems into the cloud. The value is around occupying a shared cloud eco-system, which provides access to complimentary system tools and technologies that meet the business’s needs. It makes sense to use these micro-services within the cloud to enhance a business’s solutions in line with the customers’ needs with much more speed and agility.
But perhaps the most interesting part about ERP in the cloud is that it currently comes from what’s happening with app sourcing. Businesses are changing the way in which they source enterprise tools by replacing them with apps. ERP itself is becoming an applet platform where additional component apps are being built and integrated.
All of this creates an environment where businesses can experiment more internally. Where before they may have lacked skills, now it’s as simple as a few clicks. As a result, it’s likely that we’ll see more trial and configuration of concepts being generated by companies. They’ll build it, run it for a couple of days and if it works then they’ll build more.
All of this innovation within the cloud provides an environment where both the customer and the business can experiment more internally and find the right solutions and services that suit them. Whereas before they may have lacked the much-needed skills required to operate such a solution, it’s now as simple as a few clicks away.