It the end of the year, when experts prognosticate about next year’s Oscar favs and likely trends in all spheres of life. For us, it’s a good time to think about trends in business software. 2019 has been a year of growth and change in business software, with the major ERP vendors and others releasing innovative updates to their solutions. Here are five business software trends we expect to see in 2020.
1) More cloud ERP, and cloud computing in general
Cloud has been gaining over the last decade, especially in the last five years. Heading into 2020, it seems clear that cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) will continue to grow as a share of ERP spending. The reasons for this trend include agility, flexibility and lower capital expenditures (CapEx). In addition, we think there will be an increase in multi-cloud architectures. For example, companies my supplement a cloud-based EPR with storage on Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure (or both). This, in turn, may integrate with cloud offerings like Microsoft Office 365. Disaster recovery and economics could be the drivers of this trend.
2) AI will power more ERP
We foresee a trend toward the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in ERP systems to help with (or actually perform) decision making processes. These will be supported by data analytics capabilities that are increasingly included in ERP solutions—or integrated with them. Examples of this trend include continually self-optimizing operational models and intelligent customer interfaces for configure-to-quote. Data analytics in general will play a bigger role in operations management.
3) ERP systems will get simpler
It’s likely that 2020 will see ERP vendors reducing the number of new features they introduce into their core solutions. Instead, they will focus on making the interface simpler and easier to use. In addition, they will probably start adding more optional modules for specialized functions like Human Capital Management (HCM), CRM and so forth. This way, the core ERP product grows more usable and less complex while the owner’s flexibility to add cloud-based modules increases.
4) Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will increase in sophistication, and adoption
2019 has been a transitional year for RPA, when skeptics became believers and started to use the technology more steadily in actual business workflows, rather than just proofs of concept. RPA makes workers more productive by offloading repetitive, tedious tasks onto software robots. For example, RPA can take over processes like reading and sorting email by subject, routing messages to the correct recipient. This saves someone time and makes the email response faster.
5) Application integration will increase
There’s a growing acknowledgement that no single business software solution can do everything. At the same time, business managers recognize that they can’t “rip and replace” all of their systems. As a result, users will try to integrate more applications with one another in 2020. This will involve use of standards-based Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
Security will be part of the story in 2020, for all of these trends. Ransomware and data breaches should be top of mind for all IT stakeholders, not just the security team. We can help you think through the meaning and impact of these trends for your business and software choices in 2020. To learn more, visit our website.
Microsoft recently published a truly outstanding white paper titled Four Technology Trends Helping Businesses Thrive in a Digital World. We highly recommend it if you’re contemplating how IT can make an impact on your business success. The paper takes on topics like cloud computing, digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobility. Their goal is to add detail and practical insights to subjects that tend to be vague and overhyped. The context is the applicability of Dynamics 365 as a solution for digital transformation. Here’s a sneak peek:
Cloud computing: Much more than a buzzword
Cloud adoption is accelerating. As businesses put cloud technology to work in a vast variety of use cases, the concept becomes far more than a mere buzzword. Indeed, the cloud changes how and where people work. It enables new ways of doing business, or even completely new businesses. Cost reduction is still a high priority for cloud adoption, but other factors are driving adoption. The paper cites Gigaom Research, which reports, “71% of strategic buyers cite scalability, cost and business agility as the most important drivers for using cloud services.”
Digital transformation and the revolution in connectivity
Microsoft surveyed small and mid-sized business owners and employees with the goal of understanding their most challenging problems. Lost productivity emerged as a serious issue. People reported losing time working across multiple systems that are unable to “talk to each other.” The results of such disconnected systems included manual, duplicative processes and out-of-date reporting. Poor visibility into operations then translated into impaired decision making at the management level.
Digital transformation offers a way out of this trap. It’s a broad concept, but at its heart, digital transformation is about the current revolution in connectivity. Today, applications can easily and cheaply connect with one another using standards-based APIs—even spanning between multiple business entities. As the paper explains, companies that connect their systems, people, data and processes are able to anticipate operational challenges and act accordingly. They are able to gather data in real time and get deep insights into what going on in the business.
No mystery in the IoT. It’s reality
The IoT is one of those tech ideas that seemed futuristic when it first debuted. Today, it’s a reality. Using devices to collect and analyze operational and environmental data is now occurring on a regular basis. And, it’s not just for big corporations or government agencies. Even a smaller business has its “things” that generate data with which to track trends, identify patterns and perhaps even make predictions.
The challenge in IoT is threefold. First, there has to be a solution to manage the devices and related “edge” infrastructure. Then, there’s the data. IoT environments create a lot of data. It has to be stored and secured before it can be analyzed. The analytics is the third and arguably most important challenge to overcome on the way to IoT success.
Mobility is already so pervasive in business that it may not even occur to people that it’s a distinct technology area deserving of focus. It is. Your employees are increasingly mobile. You have to support them. Customers expect rich mobile connections with your brand. Your suppliers are using mobile apps. Having a mobile strategy is critical for success today.
These are the highlights of the paper. To read it in full, click here.