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Each year, we make our predictions for the ERP software industry for the upcoming year. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we’re off base, so it’s clearly not an easy feat to predict the future in any industry – especially one as dynamic as the enterprise software industry. However, we wanted to share our opinions of where the ERP software industry is headed in the next several years.

When we started the company in 2005, we chose the word “panorama” to describe our big-picture and clear view of the ERP industry. We had all witnessed ineffective, myopic and oftentimes downright shady consulting tactics in the industry, which were the forces we were trying to mitigate during our journey to becoming the world’s leading independent ERP consulting firm.

Over the years, we have implemented and studied literally thousands of ERP implementations to crack the code on what it takes to achieve ERP success. While most ERP implementations have historically failed, we have found distinct differences between those that succeed and those that fail. Through our experience and research, we have identified trends and best practices that will help increase the success rate of ERP implementations in the future. A thorough understanding of these trends will help organizations better navigate the complexities and risks of ERP implementations.

Here are the key trends that CIOs, COOs, project managers and implementation teams can expect to see in the ERP industry within the next several years:

1.   Increased consumerization of ERP systems. As new generations of employees continue to enter the workforce, we will likely see more consumerization of ERP systems to accommodate these new workers. Imagine being a 20-something who grew up with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, then being told that you are expected to learn an archaic AS-400 based, green screen ERP system – it simply isn’t going to happen. Companies that haven’t already shifted away from these types of systems will be under increased pressure to do so, and ERP vendors that still develop and support outdated user interfaces and functionality will be under even more pressure to create user-friendly and intuitive software solutions that more closely resemble consumer technologies. Oracle’s JD Edwards and Infor are two examples of ERP vendors that have recently rolled out very attractive user interfaces that more closely resemble what we’re used to seeing with consumer technologies.

2.   Mobility will become even more mainstream. Many industry analysts like to talk about SaaS and the cloud – both of which will likely continue to see increased adoption in coming years, but mobility will be the primary technological reality in 2020. Management, back office employees, shop floor workers, warehouse clerks and others within most enterprises will use mobile devices to access enterprise data – just as much or more so than traditional desktop access. Part of this continued trend will be due to the fact that more employees regularly use mobile devices in their personal lives and will inevitably use them to access ERP software for work if possible. The other reason is a reflection of where the workforce is headed: more part-time, mobile and contract employees will further necessitate the need for mobile ERP software.

3.   Increased focus on business intelligence, data and analytics. This trend is already gaining much momentum, but the business intelligence movement will continue to accelerate in coming years. After years of capturing reams of transactional and strategic data throughout their enterprises via ERP software, organizations have pivoted their focus toward making sense of this data and turning it into a strategic advantage. And simple reporting won’t hack it – enterprises will demand more robust and intelligent ways to make use of this information. ERP vendors such as SAP, Oracle, Infor and others are already investing heavily in their business intelligence capabilities, so expect this trend to continue well into the future.

Check back next week for three more trends that CIOs, CFOs, project managers and implementation teams will need to navigate carefully into the future. Also be sure to download 20/20 Panoramic View of the ERP Industry: Nine Business and Technology Trends to Watch for a more in-depth analysis of these trends.