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Earlier this year, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. I’ve become a big fan of his music and lyrics over the years, so I was particularly excited to hear that he received this honor.

As a music buff, I’m always interested in connecting the dots between rock and roll and my ERP consulting profession. After all, what better way to combine the thrill of rock and roll with the mystery of ERP software?

Regardless of whether or not you like his music, there are plenty of lessons to be drawn from his lyrics. Here are five in particular that can help guide us on our ERP software initiatives:

Like a Rolling Stone. This song, which is about someone who has fallen from their prime to become “like a complete unknown,” is a reminder of the difficulty CIOs face when embarking on their digital transformations. Even the most experienced executives, project managers and team members get tripped up by the complexities and challenges of ERP implementations. This is why it’s important to find the right kind of outside support and help for your project. Some CIOs get fired for underestimating the effort and skills required, but others realize success by surrounding themselves with people with the battle wounds to show for it.

Shelter from the Storm. Surrounding yourself with the right expertise and skills is important because of the curveballs and pitfalls that are constantly thrown at you during a digital transformation. It’s a “storm” of sorts, requiring a team, process and/or toolsets to help navigate the various challenges and obstacles. CIOs and IT Managers are much like the vagabond in the wilderness in this Dylan song – they are looking for someone to provide that shelter from the storm. This is one of the key benefits that our team at Panorama Consulting provides to our clients.

The Times They Are A-Changin.’ Times are changing, which is why the traditional approach to ERP implementations and digital transformation has proven to be ineffective. High failure rates, evolving technological landscapes and an industry that generally doesn’t know how to mitigate the risks all point to the need for change. Incumbent ERP vendors and others in the industry may cling to their old way of doing things, but it takes a certain amount of independence, innovation and science to make these sorts of projects successful. Like Dylan said: “The order is rapidly fadin’ / And the first one now will later be last / For the times they are a-changin.’”

Blowin’ in the Wind. Though this song asks a series of rhetorical questions that don’t have definitive answers, it is a reminder that successful ERP implementations don’t need to be so elusive. Unlike the questions asked by Dylan in this song, there are many answers about how to make your digital transformation efforts successful. Most may fail to some degree in their efforts, but CIOs and project managers will succeed if they follow well-defined and proven best practices. In other words, the answers are much more clear than those that other might consider to be “blowin’ in the wind.”

All Along the Watchtower. This song was covered and made famous by Jimi Hendrix, so it’s become one of Dylan’s best known songs. The lyrics allude to an ominous “prison” setting full of thieves, jokers and greedy business men, which in some ways reminds me of the ERP software industry. Too many people are in it for themselves rather than their clients’ interests – not always because they are greedy people, but often times they get too caught up in creating cool software that may or may not help businesses be more successful. The need for more ethical grounding, client focus, and independence from software sales is a big part of why we founded Panorama Consulting in 2005.

Download “Everything You Need to Know About Digital Transformation: It’s the End of ERP Software as We Know it.”

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