The 40th anniversary of NexSys is a proud moment to celebrate our achievements but also take stock of a fast-moving sector. Our Managing Director Nick McGrane recently wrote an article reflecting on four decades of ERP, exploring how the industry has evolved and responded to the changing needs of its customers. That got me thinking about what the future might have in store as manufacturers and distributors use digital transformation to future-proof their operations.
If my years of experience working in the ERP industry has taught me anything, it is that the only thing that stays the same is change. From the adoption of early systems in the 1980s and 1990s, ERP showed the potential to change the world of our movers and makers through access to reliable data. Servers were bulky, systems were slow, and capabilities were limited compared to today, but the foundations were being put in place for a digital revolution that would prove key to the future of manufacturing.
At NexSys, we are proud of our history and the fact that we have continued adapting over the ensuing decades to ensure technological advances are translated into practical solutions supporting customers on their digitisation journey. It is a fast-changing commercial world and ERP has to keep pace.
In the coming years, automation is the name of the game. With rising labour and energy costs, businesses are under increasing pressure to drive efficiencies. Be it scanning invoices or using robots to pack boxes in dark warehouses, many tasks previously carried out by humans are now being automated.
That automation is becoming end-to-end and ERP systems must develop to accommodate the transition. Systems need to communicate with a variety of different machines and use AI and IoT to improve operational performance through access to real time data.
If businesses are to exploit these disruptive technologies and find bespoke solutions to meet their specific needs, ERP must become more integrated. We now see the emergence of so-called “composable ERP”, sophisticated systems with a comprehensive range of solutions that are highly customisable.
Providers like SYSPRO are finding ways of providing solutions with interchangeable components that can be combined to and adapted in a tailored offer. It allows businesses to be more agile, tapping into different systems, apps and applications as and when required. In this environment NexSys’s DataSwitch will come to the fore. The purpose-built system integration and data manipulation tool supports composable ERP by standardising the flow of information between unconnected software systems.
This calls for a closer relationship between a business and its ERP system as organisations seek even more insight into their operations. Analytics has always been fundamental to our industry’s offer, but its role will become more critical than ever. With a move to collaborative ERP, companies will extend that analysis through their supply chains to further drive efficiencies.
In a world of rising costs and tight margins, it is all about exploiting ERP in the hunt for profit. That will mean anything from using AI to track transaction patterns and ensure stock is kept in the optimum location, to tracking kWhs on machines to identify ways to minimise energy consumption.
That level of insight will become even more important as sustainability moves further up the corporate agenda. More pressure from legislators, customers and suppliers will see ERP support companies in monitoring energy use, monitor the lifecycle of products and drive emissions reduction. Yet this is only possible if enough of the right information is captured in the first place and tracking and storing even more data at granular level is a precursor to exploiting sophisticated analysis tools.
Augmenting decision making
The end goal is not to develop ERP capabilities to such a degree that the system takes the reins, but to augment decision-making in business. In the future, leaders will treat it as a one of their most trusted advisors, always at hand to guide them on the path to boosting profits and building resilience.
Yet achieving that is not without its challenges. As ERP providers we need to equip ourselves with the skills to make that transition. We will still need the accountants and ERP implementers, but we also need experts in human augmentation and create jobs that have never existed before.
We will also need to harness new technology like quantum computing, replacing in-person with digital transactions that take place in a fraction of a second.
Thankfully, SYSPRO is well-placed to meet those challenges. It now has AI embedded with the rules engines and machine learning that allow it to be that human augmentation partner.
At NexSys, our track record demonstrates our commitment to continuous improvement. For the last 40 years we have provided customers with the toolkit they need to embrace intelligent connectivity. We are a trusted pair of hands to guide you on your journey.
As an ERP provider, we relish the opportunity to continue developing innovative solutions to future-proof business and offer a competitive advantage. Come and talk to our team about how we can support your transformation and provide the digital backbone you need to thrive on the global stage.