Flexible Future? ERP Strategy for the Forward-Thinking Enterprise
The energy market is changing. Australia just rolled out the world’s first decentralized energy-trading market to maximize the value of solar initiatives, EcoGeneration reports. Stateside, solar installations ranked as the No. 1 new source of electric power in the U.S. for 2016, according to Greentech Media. Investments in clean coal, wind power and geothermal solutions are also on the rise as energy enterprises look to future-proof their offerings and succeed in an evolving market.
The problem, however, is that enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools and approaches have yet to adapt. Many companies still use an ERP strategy that limits agility and hampers growth. How do energy companies embrace a more flexible future for ERP?
Building a Flexible ERP Strategy
For many enterprises, the idea of adopting new systems and solutions to replace existing tools can seem unnecessary. Why spend money on ERP when local IT staff have their hands full dealing with cloud deployments, big data and managing mobile devices? But as noted by Cloud Computing, market conditions don’t care about current methodology. The Internet of Things data tsunami means companies need a way to store, process and leverage huge amounts of device-derived information. And with the continuing rise of mobile devices, ERP solutions must be available on-demand to C-suite executives, process managers and sales workers to maximize return on investment.
The mobile trend also impacts customer expectations: Consumers want products and services delivered when they want and how they want. Inflexible ERP systems that can’t support new revenue models or buying methods only hamper growth. In the energy sector, ERP systems unable to cope with new energy offerings or marketplaces put enterprises at a significant disadvantage. Bottom line? Flexible ERP strategy and tools are now a must-have.
A Proof-Positive Future
How do companies future-proof their ERP? Start with the cloud, and start small. Writing for Energy CIO Insights, GE Power’s CIO for Global ERP Jorge Frausto says it doesn’t have to be all or nothing — his own organization opted for multiple ERP deployments across multiple platforms. For one of their smaller manufacturing and engineering ERPs, the company went with a cloud software-as-a-service platform, while larger ERPs leverage a combination of private stacks for the central ERP and other pillars such as commercial or procurement in the cloud. Frausto emphasizes that it’s critical for companies to remember that despite the technological underpinning of ERP systems, they’re ultimately business initiatives, not IT projects: they must enable business transformation and push for new outcomes.
The cloud offers a number of benefits to achieve these aims, including streamlined processes, cost reduction and flexibility. Cloud-based ERPs can provide real-time data and process feedback, enabling companies to shift manufacturing or supply procedures on demand. Without the need to purchase new physical hardware, enterprises can reduce total spending; being able to scale up almost instantaneously brings unmatched flexibility.
This isn’t to say opting for cloud ERP strategy is entirely without concerns: Information Age notes how complex deployments can be, so companies need to take the time to find the right fit for where specific services and data should reside.
Energy enterprises must now effectively manage an evolving market to empower revenue and stay relevant. Cloud-based ERP is the first step to future-proofing business initiatives and drive long-term ROI.