The Future of ERP, Part II

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More than any time in its nearly four-decade history, change is swirling in the air of the ERP ecosystem: new software-delivery models, new licensing arrangements, new user-interface offerings, new support options, new emphasis on value. All of this change is a very good thing, analysts say. "Now, it's all about the value," says Accenture's Hayes. "With all of these different future trends out there, CIOs need to be more adept at describing the value: Here's the TCO and here's the revenue uplift; here's the day sales outstanding improvement; here's the business value we're going to get by using this application."

It's not that companies are cutting spending on ERP-related systems; in fact, quite the opposite: ERP investments still top the list of corporate IT investments and in 2009 were almost "recession proof."

It's just that the recession and years of questionable return have forcefully introduced a new strategy: Leave the commodity ERP processes to the back office (such as payroll and HR), but make damn sure that front-line users are freed from the banality and inflexibility of the Ghosts of ERP Past.

Industry consultant Reed sums it up this way: "'Empower me. Give me the tools to create differentiating processes that allow me to define myself from my competitors. And make sure that it's easier for me to do, so I don't have to hire 100 programmers. Give me the building blocks to put that together quickly, so that it's just humming in the background, and leave me free to focus on what makes us better than other companies.' That's what customers are expecting now and really want."

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This story, "The Future of ERP, Part II" was originally published by CIO.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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