The future of ERP: Why the ‘big ERP’ approach is dead


Interesting in-depth analysis by Infoworld on how the traditional huge multi year enterprise software investment and implementation paradigm has changed as a result of competitive pressures, technology (primarily cloud computing), the current economic chaos, and other world events.

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.”

Here are some other noteworthy informational tidbits:

The “single global instance” dream dies: One ERP system: a single, global instance of business software applications running our entire business and our business lines, seamlessly uniting our CRM, supply chain and business analytics applications. Efficiencies. Integration. Savings. Fewer headaches. That’s been the dream at many companies and for CIOs since Y2K — a dream most often fed to them by eager ERP vendors.

Bill McDermott, president and CEO of SAP America, stares out the tinted glass wall overlooking the bustling convention floor and then dives into the same pitch he gives the pilgrimaging executives [at SAP's Sapphire event]. “You have ERP,” says SAP America’s CEO. “The next step is to expand it to CRM and the supply chain.” The idea, he says, is to control all the data in a company by standardizing on one system for the front end and using one data source for the back. His pitch reaches its climax when McDermott sounds the message SAP has been trumpeting all week: It’s time to move to a single instance.

In other words, McDermott is telling CIOs to forget the multiple systems their companies use today, rip them out, and replace them with one ERP system — with one data store — that serves the entire company, no matter how diversified or geographically spread out it is. That, he says, is how to get the most bang for your IT buck.

That dream has now faded for many companies. Even at SAP. “I think the concept is evolving,” Say contends. “There’s a pretty open acknowledgement that — is it practical to get to a single instance across all functions of a very large, global enterprise? No. That’s not a realistic goal any more. We’re living in a world where multiple systems have to be networked together, have to communicate openly with each other and need to have sophisticated enough infrastructures on top so that the business can manage it.”

The “more evolved” thinking, Say suggests, is this: Companies can achieve consistencies and efficiencies in their business processes without having to use one singular system that manages the entire landscape.

Call it what you will: software as a service, on-demand computing, Web-based software, cloud computing. Doesn’t matter, because business software experienced via an Internet connection and browser is already here. Resistance is futile, stupid and short-sighted. At this point, however, no one (save for the SaaS vendors, perhaps) is advocating for wholesale rip and replaces of on-premise ERP installs.

But as enthusiasm for traditional, on-premise, expensive and complicated software deployments wanes even further, Web-based software options hosted in either public or private clouds will become even more attractive for companies big and small looking for low costs and easily consumed apps, analysts say

“The supervendors have architected enormous complexity in order to be able to sell across so many different verticals, in so many industries,” says AMR’s Richardson. “I think there’s a need for simplicity, and the Salesforce.com and Workday people get that.”

What is amusing is a quote from an ERP cloud vendor with their “anytime, anywhere access” mantra and slogan as if their one size fits all ERP “suite” message is any different from the mega vendors like SAP, Oracle. The bottom line message of this article is the “big one size fits all software” days are over or numbered at best.

By the end of 2009, Gartner forecasts that global SaaS revenue will reach $7.5 billion, which is an 18 percent increase from 2008 revenue of $6.4 billion.

Looking out even farther, Gartner predicts that the SaaS market will show consistent growth through 2013 when global SaaS revenue will total more than $14 billion for the enterprise software markets.

Two years from then, in 2014, is when Saugatuck predicts big change: “SaaS will become integral to infrastructure, business systems, operations and development within all aspects of user firms, with variations in status and roles based on region and business culture.”

“There are many things happening here that are good for users, good for the IT profession, good for business. It’s just good, good, good,” Pierce says. “You know, what’s slowing this adoption are all the priests of the past — all the preservationists. All the interests that are built up around the edifice that is enterprise software. … Cloud computing is a dream come true.” says Todd Pierce, CIO of Genentech

Acquisitions aside, how will the cadre of ERP vendors approach the future? Like those robots in the Transformer movies, the MISOH cartel, and other traditional ERP entities will have to change their “shapes,” and alter their strategies to stay with the times (and already have, to some degree). That means embracing — rather than resisting — on-demand and SaaS-based computing software-delivery models. And you can bet you’ll be seeing fewer and fewer “cloud computing” rants from big ERP execs, like the one that Oracle’s Ellison gave in fall 2009.

For example, in an odd 2008 interview with ZDNet, Lawson Software CEO Harry Debes proclaimed that the SaaS industry would “collapse” in two years. In the interview, Debes also noted that Lawson was a happy Salesforce.com user. In fall 2009, during an interview with CIO.com, Debes stands by his comments, saying that the feedback from Lawson’s customers at the time, which was that they did not want a SaaS solution, “was compelling.” That’s changed. And today, Debes says, “I’m a very big fan of cloud computing,” though his on-premise business still has a bright future, he contends.

Talkin’ ’bout the next generation

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.”

Bill McDermott, president and CEO of SAP America, stares out the tinted glass wall overlooking the bustling convention floor and then dives into the same pitch he gives the pilgrimaging executives [at SAP's Sapphire event]. “You have ERP,” says SAP America’s CEO. “The next step is to expand it to CRM and the supply chain.” The idea, he says, is to control all the data in a company by standardizing on one system for the front end and using one data source for the back. His pitch reaches its climax when McDermott sounds the message SAP has been trumpeting all week:

It’s time to move to a single instance.

In other words, McDermott is telling CIOs to forget the multiple systems their companies use today, rip them out, and replace them with one ERP system — with one data store — that serves the entire company, no matter how diversified or geographically spread out it is. That, he says, is how to get the most bang for your IT buck.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • Live
  • MySpace
  • Print this article!
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis
  • LinkedIn

, ,

  1. No comments yet.
(will not be published)
  1. No trackbacks yet.