How to adapt to the next generation of IT environment. Novacura Co-founder and product manager, Petter Larsson, shed some really interesting light on this fact in this previous blog post.
And to stretch it even further, I think we are entering a challenging phase for old-school IT organizations. And by old-school I mean companies who might have existed for 1, 10 or 50 years but aren’t aware of the fact that the race is on and you need to be in shape to keep up.
This concerns all areas of what we previously consider to be the suppliers of core-applications of an organization: not only ERP but other specialized applications who have done a great work for the last decades.
The technology is improving in all fields and you need to have an organization fit for adapting to this. It always means that you need to have an accounting system and the ability to trace your transactions.
- You need to be able to make use of the new-world technologies: machine learning, AI, Block-chain, IoT, 3D printing, chatbots, etc. (The buzzwords list can be made even longer…)
- You need to be versatile: don’t dig yourself too deep into anything or get stuck in the sunk cost fallacy
But does all of this mean that you should buy a whole new set of systems? No, but maybe yes. If your current systems and partners don’t allow you to be flexible and to adapt, you need to review them.
You should take a strategic grip of your own IT environment, just as you do with any part of your organization. If you managed to remove manual routines and paper from your business processes, you will not have any problems kicking out legacy systems and partners. It will hurt, and might be expensive. But it needs to be done.
You should work with partners that allow for things to happen in your organization. You might move locations, buy up other companies or take other turns that can change what was standard in the past.
But what to choose and what to buy? ERP, other applications? As Petter said in his blog post,
The ability to choose the best solutions for your unique processes also means that your unique processes are a competitive advantage.
This doesn’t mean NO standardization. For a previous process analyst like myself, uniqueness vs. standardization can be a massive struggle in any process. Uniqueness can make it more difficult to update a process. But to be able to even have a chance on the market in the future, YOUR unique process IS the competitive advantage. And what is important to grasp is that, next year, the ability to review that process and to easily transform it depending on new market needs might make the difference between life or death for your company.
Here’s an example. The retail landscape has changed: the showroom and ”warehouse/stock” ordering is world-wide and no longer contained to storefronts. Does this mean that all traditional retail companies need to shut down and new ones will start up and take their market spots? Obviously not. These companies should be prepared for this shift and have supporting functions that support these massive shifts.
This demands that us supplying companies need to shape our business based on:
- Easy integration
- Easy on-boarding of new applications
- Easy and user-friendly interface for all users
- Your finance department need to have well-shaped reporting tools and easy to use accounting solutions.
- Your salesmen in the field, operators or everyone working on the GO need to have mobile applications well suited for the life on the road
- Your showroom staff need to have good and supportive applications that help them in their daily work with customers. As well as good and tight communication with the warehouse and shipment of things.
- Your warehouse and logistics staff need to have optimized supplier, stock and transportation solutions.
I hope my point is coming out. No matter the segment, (retail, industry, energy, education or whatever) you need to have a vision and strategy with corresponding platform(-s) to support them. A common situation in the future might be this setup:
- A communication platform
- An Accounting system(or a down-scaled ERP system depending on your size)
- A solid process supporting platform to integrate and create all necessary interfaces to your data.
- But most importantly is the trusted people and partners you surround yourself with. This change will be a tough time on any partnership. And you need to have open minded partners that are honest about the fact that everyone need to change
The 5th part of this setup is the versatility you need to fit the current demand. The original idea behind ERP systems was that they would solve everything for you. But I am sad to say that the organizations that have dug themselves too deeply into any system might have a rough path to go. It all boils down to how user-friendly, flexible and compatible the system is.
Don’t worry if you don’t have all of this yet. But if I ask you again tomorrow, I at least hope you have the strategy in place. Let’s shake the foundation of the old-school ERP and go all postmodern.