ERP Tools, Automation and AI: The Keys to Achieving Better Enterprise Efficiency?

Information is a big driver for success in enterprises. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, for example, have become an integral part of the business. The ERP not only enables the business to make operational decisions based on resource utilization and availability. It also enables strategic visibility and planning. 

Running an effective ERP can be a CIO’s dream come true. As Dave Lechleitner, chair of the Software Technology Council, said, “The most important improvement [in ERP] is the increase in efficiency through more up-to-date and robust planning and scheduling capabilities. This real-time insight then further improves efficiency in other parts of the company as well, such as sales and customer service.”

Committing to an ERP system, however, is not without its caveats. It can also be a nightmare if utilization is mired with difficulty in managing upgrade cycles, buggy code and inarticulate IT staff. This is especially true with legacy deployments, which can already be bogged down by years of customizations, a huge database and the complexity of third party add-ons. 

Even the best IT staff can become overwhelmed with standard or bespoke code that is full of bugs, has complicated upgrade procedures, or requires a prohibitive amount of time dedicated to its maintenance. Surprisingly enough, it’s some of the more established ERP platforms that present these problems, since legacy systems often suffer from a backend that has had years of patchwork done to it, growing ever-more-complex with every iteration. 

Many CIOs will outright refuse to work with newer software, or even upgrade their existing installation, because they fear that the change may bring chaos along with it. This often requires many man-hours of planning and testing before actual execution. 

Automation is one solution that is known to result in cost- and time-saving. Enterprise automation tools like Panaya, for instance, apply big data analytics to determine potential roadblocks to successful ERP upgrade and deployment. The platform enables smooth upgrades and transitions to enterprises using SAP, SalesForce and Oracle e-business suite, identifying functionalities that might break with upgrades, and offering possible fixes and solutions. 

However, going beyond enterprise automation for ERP upgrades, there is a bigger potential, which has warranted software and services giant Infosys to acquire the automation startup at a valuation of $200M. Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka cites how automation can "help amplify the potential of our people, freeing us from the drudgery of many repetitive tasks, so we may focus more on the important, strategic challenges faced by our clients.” 

This means that the core technology running big data analytics and automation can potentially be applied to other aspects of the enterprise. For Infosys, for example, automation can be applied to other sectors and industries that it services, such as banking, finance, manufacturing, and application development. 

Enterprise automation, when applied in a correctly-focused manner, can help us free up resources that can be dedicated to other areas that we need to service, making CFOs happy! Businesses are already performing business process management (BPM) in one way or another. An ERP is meant to crawl deep into your data and turn it into information that can make an enterprise much more efficient and productive. Applying automation to improve — or possibly overhaul — a business’ strategy and tactics, might just be the key in achieving better efficiency and productivity in the enterprise.

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Bill has been a member of the technology and publishing industries for more than 25 years and brings extensive expertise to the roles of CEO, CIO, and Executive Editor. Most recently, Bill was COO and Co-Founder of CIOZone.com and the parent company PSN Inc. Previously, Bill held the position of CTO of both Wiseads New Media and About.com.

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