IDC Report Identifies Acumatica as a Top Driver in Business Resiliency

COVID-19 has changed the world. Remote work has become the norm. Society today is a digitally interactive leap ahead of the pre-COVID world. This shift has changed the lives of everyone and every business. Those that thrived during these difficult two years were prepared to be digitally resilient. For small and medium-sized businesses, cloud ERP was that preparation–the difference between weathering the storm or sinking with the ship. Cloud ERP is the operationally focused, digital technology that sets the stage for resiliency and efficiency, enabling remote workers to thrive and support their business community.

For many organizations, it can be difficult to see the value of adopting a Cloud ERP or SaaS system. A handful of primary factors mean the difference between system adoption or not, these are:

  • Guaranteed service levels
  • Ease and speed of deployment
  • Improved features
  • Support for remote employees
  • Mobile apps that automatically adjust screens to fit any device display

Straightforward for some businesses, but not for many. Thus, effective education on how seamless and easy the adoption of a Cloud ERP or SaaS system can be is integral to business resiliency and long-term success. Of all these systems, Acumatica is one of the easiest to adopt and integrate. The cloud ERP boasts the best industry eas-of-use rating and highest bang-for-buck, making it appealing for any small to medium enterprise.

Data is Driving SMB Cloud ERP Purchases

The recently released IDC report predicts that by 2022, 90% of new mid-market ERP system selections will prioritize analytics, data, and prebuilt cognitive business processes as critical differentiating features that impact system acquisitions. Meaning, the vast majority of organizations will adopt ERP systems based on the analytics and date available through the system. This is on trend with modern business practices and requirements, businesses succeed based on their ability to turn data into decisions that benefit the business. The more data available, the more likely the business will make effective decisions.

Businesses are becoming more critical of their processes than ever. COVID-19 forced an increase in scrutiny of cash flows, orders, customer retention, and purchase orders. A core attribute of modern ERP systems is that businesses can take both a high-level and micro-level look at all elements of their business. And, in the process, make effective decisions to benefit growth, retention of customers, and more.

As the world transitions into the post-COVID era, many organizations will alter strategy to benefit growth while maintaining the conservative strategies that allowed them to survive the difficult pandemic years. These decisions may mean growing more strategically and using the growing amount of data available to assist decision making processes. Additionally, businesses will scrutinize where their cash comes from, how they spend it, and if any is wasted. Tools that allow a microscopic view of business cash flows will be widely used in the near and distant future. The norm, as this post emphasizes, is businesses will become more data drive, better at managing cash, and use ERP tools & systems to help make these decisions.

Not All Businesses Are Alike

Personalization is now a requirement, not an option.

This is especially true of midmarket companies that compete with larger organizations.

The transformation of SMB markets is already underway through:

» Personalized experiences. Customer expectations have changed. The expectation is that every experience is tailored to the unique requirements of individual customers. Constant monitoring of customer experiences and satisfaction is integral and businesses who fall short risk losing customers to competitors over even the smallest nuisances.

The customer data is the focal point creating demand and pushing cash to be spent to satisfy the demand.

» Connected products. As the Internet of Things (IoT) drives more connected products and the resultant visibility into product use and performance, businesses must analyze large data streams and react rapidly to support their customers in the field but also be ready to take advantage of new revenue opportunities. COVID-19 has been the perfect storm of IoT connecting to cloud ERP systems for purposes of asset management.

For example, connected facilities can control lighting and HVAC settings of unoccupied office buildings and facilities. In addition, asset management provides guidance on servicing/maintenance of equipment during shutdowns to ensure a smooth transition to production quantities as the facility is opened.

» Connected customers. Customers are becoming connected not only to their suppliers but also to each other. Having data management capabilities and digital systems that can monitor customers and their interactions with each other gives great insight into individual customer experiences. And during the pandemic, many customers are connecting even more with cloud and mobile devices, enabling new ideas and solutions with their technology systems. The pandemic has forced employees to remain within or near their homes; however, they can still move about and use their mobile phones and tablets to work outside or perhaps in other rooms while their children are e-learning on their computers. Data is the resource that companies have, but most struggle with utilizing data effectively. The majority of organizations rank data and analytics as a competitive advantage or differentiator, but less than a quarter of organizations have been able to extract maximum available value from their data. All companies, no matter their size, need access to standard information to improve communication and collaboration across the enterprise. Through dynamic analysis of data sets, SMBs can achieve many benefits by understanding what is happening and why it is happening; they can also respond in a way that leads to better decision making, especially in times of crisis. Cloud ERP systems can assist in timely data capture, analytics, and insights to improve business decision making.

Future Proofing the Business

Organizations that use cloud ERP systems are future proofing their business.

The cloud ERP system is built on a platform with data transparency to run the entire business. It is available anytime and anywhere, uses APIs, integrates artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), and enables low-code/no-code customization.

COVID-19 has set up cloud ERP systems as the de facto business operations system. The IDC report suggests that businesses who do postmortems on pandemic performance will uncover short falls in performance. For example, many will identify legacy on-premise ERP systems as creating more expenses than saving.

According to a previous IDC COVID-19 survey, organizations expect videoconferencing, remote employee learning, data security, virtual workspaces, social networks, cloud software, and cloud computing to be at the top of the technology investment list due to how important these elements became during the pandemic. Identified shortcomings will guide technology investments for years to come.

The IDC report further finds that the required adoption of certain of these technologies during the pandemic has given some organizations the needed push to overcome investment and learning curve hurdles. It is expected that most of these technologies become a permanent part of the technology footprint, including cloud ERP and especially Cloud ERP.

Cloud ERP can provide an organization with:

» Platform advantage. Leading organizations are shifting to platform thinking to evolve their business models and manage their technology architecture. Platform thinking is a fundamental shift in business strategy, moving beyond product differentiation and pricing and toward ecosystem-based value creation. It is also a long-term, sustainable response to new realities in the DX (digital transformation) economy, one in which organizations digitally transform themselves into digital-native enterprises. Understanding and provisioning the platforms that will sustain, advance, and scale business and operations are essential for every business. The platform is where the future of software, infrastructure, and connectivity is evolving and where the edge will be accessed, integrated, and optimized. Today, we are in a platform economy — one in which tools, capabilities, and frameworks based upon the power of information, cognitive computing, and ubiquitous access will frame and channel our economic, business, and social lives.

» Data transparency and insights. In this “data-driving-action” world, ensuring the veracity of the data and transforming data into insights become strategic imperatives. Sometimes called “decision-centric computing,” the need to understand and utilize data goes beyond data integration and governance. What becomes essential is to put data into context to provide meaning, to understand that data in relationship to other data and events to gain knowledge, and to add judgement and action to achieve the full potential of value realization. Data and intelligence represent a unique opportunity for creating unimaginable value. Real-time data from IoT, mobile devices, and other devices at the edge — combined with historical data, enterprise systems, and global information — can continually sense an environment and put it into new contexts. Combining data with AI/ML means organizations are spreading intelligence from the core to the edge to turn data into action and action into value. Automation literally extends beyond decision making and optimization into life-and-death dependencies. Competitiveness is determined by how data is transformed into insight and knowledge to create high-value differentiators for products, customers, and markets and how data delivers meaningful, value-added learning, predictions, and action that improve experiential engagement, industrial processes, enterprise decision making, and much more.

» Anytime and anywhere availability. Customers accustomed to the personalization and ease of dealing with digital-native consumer companies expect the same kind of service from every business in every industry. These changing expectations are most evident in the newest generations of customers, but all customers are demanding more convenience and personalization. At the same time, they want more control of what data is collected and how it is used. With new customer expectations being set by thriving companies that disrupt markets, the previous levels of customer service are no longer good enough. New business, operational, and organizational models are required to meet continually growing consumer expectations. According to IDC research, 38% of digital-native companies reported that they are “almost constantly online” through their device of choice — mobile phone, laptop, or tablet. Being always online is providing unparalleled access to behaviors and preferences, such that digital-native enterprises also expect to turn this information into customized engagement and experience at some point.

» APIs. ERP applications constructed with APIs grant organizations more flexibility in integrating their business systems and applications and connecting to data. The APIs are more agile, allowing organizations to better adapt to unforeseen future business models and market changes without missing a beat.

» AI/ML. AI innovation and application are being driven by massive investments in all kinds of industries. Hospitals are testing how AI can enhance care; manufacturing is using AI to run systems, train employees, and reduce downtime; school districts are looking at AI-equipped cameras that can spot guns; and human resources departments are using AI to sift through job applications. AI is changing the way ERP systems are utilized.

» Low-code/no-code customizations. The digital workspace is one in which line-of-business (LOB) employees increasingly interact with business and customer data through mobile devices, including employer-provided and personally owned mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and wearables. Data from enterprise applications and databases as well as data generated by mobile devices themselves, such as location and sensor data, is increasingly needed — customized and even melded together at times — by employees both inside and outside the traditional four-walled office. Collaboration, efficiency, and productivity are rapidly becoming core values of businesses. Device familiarity and ease of use are becoming essential to the workforce and require a method for nontechnical employees to connect.

Organizations are turning to low-code/no-code mobile app development tools that can be easily learned and used by their nontechnical LOB employees. Low-code/no-code mobile app development is enabled by software with visual drag-and-drop, out-of-the-box, pre-integrated connectors to cloud-based services or enterprise data sources, often using REST APIs to third-party components. Organizations are also using drag-and-drop website tools. These tools (Shopify, Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, etc.) offer low-skilled employees the ability to edit and alter website dimensions, content, and layouts efficiently and with ease. Using drag-and-drop apps and web applications improves organization agility and decreases costs. Employees who use these tools don’t need to know app coding languages. They need to know only what workflow is being mobilized and what inputs, outputs, and contextual information are needed to make decisions, such as travel request, time off, or expense approvals. Employees simply drag the visual components into place, and the result is a usable mobile app with editable code created in the background that can be reviewed by IT and technical developers. No-code mobile app development is increasingly available to organizations. It is largely in the form of templated mobile apps requiring minimal customization or no customization. Mobile app templates are predesigned with simple user interfaces to meet either horizontal business needs, such as expense management approval workflows or sales offer approvals, or industry-specific use cases, such as the classic banking or financial services use case. Employees are using a wide range of mobile devices, including phones, tablets, ruggedized devices, retail point-of-sales (POS) devices. Cloud ERP Enables Business Resiliency and smartwatches. These low-code/no-code mobile app development tools evolved from web app development tools and have proven successful in enabling employees to develop mobile apps for these devices, leveraging services in the cloud and via APIs.