Capturing and presenting business data is not sufficient, as any analytics or big data pundit will tell you. The data must give way outcomes, and that requires smarter applications than the colossal ERP systems of yore. With the rise of non-natural aptitude, cloud-based ERP and better analytics comes a new type of ERP application that addresses this core concern more squarely. This, in a nutshell, is intelligent ERP.
The hallmarks of intelligent ERP are innovation that center on user experience, business process and data. Intelligent ERP systems use machine learning on massive data sets, leverage cloud deployments to manage the data and computing, and add to business processes by learning from exceptions and adapting business rules to deliver outcomes, recommended next-best steps and automation.
Businesses can profit from intelligent ERP in many ways. Here are five opportunities from the trend.
Equipment servicing, whether a company’s own machines or those of a client, can be greatly improved with intelligent ERP.
“Most manufacturing company fined themselves still performing maintenance on equipment on a time-based schedule as they have done for many decades,”
“Incorporating machine learning into their preventative maintenance solutions (whether their own machines on site or tackle installed at a customer site or part of 3rd party equipment) will allow servicing of their equipment by using the data the gear is sending off from its sensors instead of just time based,” he says. “This can provide drastic results in the areas of reduced non-planned downtime and minimize major equipment failure.”
With better data aptitude from this development of ERP come opportunities for improved purchasing, cash organization and financing.
“Applying a data approach to ERP with purchasing, cash management and financing in large scale businesses makes it a more dynamic and a more modern system,” says Jack Berkowitz, vice president of products and data science for the Adaptive Intelligence Program at Oracle. “The potential savings for buyers, suppliers and banks are massive. Being able to negotiate discounts allows businesses to either repurpose the saved money toward other efficiencies in the business or to count it as revenue.”
There’s been much talk about the liveliness of small business, but clever ERP shifts some of the advantage back to larger enterprises that have sophisticated ERP systems in place. While larger enterprises have long had superior resource planning systems, the addition of better business intelligence and a dash of AI help firms more quickly act on this infrastructure.
“With embedded reporting and AI, businesses get real-time in sequence and don’t have to wait for reporting,” notes Berkowitz. “This is a massive transformation to the way ERP users do work, as there were time delays in data coverage previously.”
By synthesizing and analyzing all manner of data that is relevant to deliver each specific outcome, businesses have greater than before agility and better decision-making that can yield a significant competitive edge.
Smarter ERP systems can help businesses improve their product offerings in two major ways.
First, these intelligent systems make data more available to employees, which in turn lead to better development and iteration.
“Now the user can just ask a question as if the computer was another person, and the computer is able to determine the background of the question and respond with the appropriate answer,” “Self-service analytics and user experiences continue to get a lot of investment.”
Second, intelligent ERP can offer automatic suggestions for improvement when these adjustments might not have been readily seen by person analysis. These improvements can be design changes or manufacturing adjustments such as suggestive corrective actions against complex manufacturing production work stream deviation, notes Johnson.
Modern manufacturing operates at a high velocity, with multiple complex work streams and tight tolerances. To keep these businesses on schedule requires many moving parts that have to be precisely coordinated.
“Having any part of this complex process encounter a disruption can have an expensive downstream impact across the company,” notes Johnson.
The number of variables that must be adjusted once a disruption has occurred can be greatly simplified when ERP systems come with intelligence and machine learning. Systems can auto-correct as deviation or issues occur in the supply chain. This new breed or ERP applications also can more easily predict disruptions before they occur.
“Most of the data necessary to make these predictions are in the ERP system (stock levels, customer demand, material lead times, logistics, orders, BOM, job cycle times),” Johnson observes.
The term “digital transformation” is often overused. In the case of intelligent ERP, however, this might not be the case. Enterprise resource planning led by analytics and artificial intelligence really can make a huge difference in how businesses run and make money.