Technology has entered the business world in a big way; however, businesses not only have to deal with the fast pace of tech advancements but also the impact of the increasing consumerisation of IT, especially on the CIO’s ability to regulate use of new technologies alongside the corporate network.
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend continues to make an impact at the workplace. For the IT department to manage new technologies, they must also be open to adopting them for their benefits or risk the emergence of shadow IT, when IT solutions are built or adopted without explicit organisational approval.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has a lot to gain from adopting an open approach to new innovations.
Five technology trends that can potentially shape the future of ERP:
1. The Internet of Things
A concept that equips objects such as cars and electrical appliances with the capacity to transfer data over a network without requiring human interaction, the Internet of Things (IoT) can facilitate attachment of devices for instance, to tools and even vehicles, feeding data back to applications hosted in the cloud. The organisation can seamlessly access information such as location, usage and performance, helping them monitor issues such as the location of unused assets, or maintenance schedules.
2. Wearable technology
One of the focal points at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the wearable technology market, according to a Gartner report, is expected to be worth $10 billion by 2016. Though wearables are making news more for the consumer angle with devices such as fitness trackers, this technology can support a host of applications in the workplace. For instance, Augmented Reality enabled glasses such as Google Glass will enable hands-free operations at industrial workplaces. Smart watches can replace PDAs and smartphones since they are more easily accessible and less likely to be misplaced or dropped. Employee health can be monitored and managed using wearable devices designed to monitor external factors such as UV exposure or heat. IFS Labs has created a proof-of-concept that shows how users of business applications can benefit from wearable technology.
3. Big data analytics
The increasing dependence of organisations on technology has also resulted in the accumulation of a wealth of data that has been traditionally underutilised but can be managed effectively to support the company’s business strategy. Exponential growth in data generation is also expected with IoT connecting tools and employees to the internet. Organisations can deploy analytical tools to begin using this data for intelligent decision-making.
4. The age of context
The importance of context will come into play when managing information in a multichannel world. Businesses would like technology to understand their particular situation at any given time, and feed them information that they need in a form that they prefer. PCs and mobile apps will increasingly integrate context aware functionality to anticipate user needs and improve the efficiency of day-to-day tasks. A typical example would be that of a field service engineer automatically receiving all the asset data, job instructions and customer relationship history on arrival at the repair site.
5. Opening business to innovation
Business processes across diverse industry sectors will in the coming years, be reinvented by technology innovations such as wearables, the IoT and big data analytics. Organisations will need to monitor the latest technological advances in the market even if they may seem irrelevant to their line of business. Solutions that may appear to have relevance only for consumers are increasingly finding profitable applications within businesses. Businesses can save time, enhance productivity and positively impact their bottom line by keeping an open mind and taking an innovative approach to the adoption of new technologies.
By Rob Stummer, Managing Director, IFS Australia and New Zealand