As gifts begin appearing under the tree and the New Year’s champagne chills, we take a moment to ponder the year past and consider the possibilities of the year ahead. A lot has occurred in 2012, both at the national level in the form of a recovering economy and a presidential election, and at the global ERP supplier level, including mergers and acquisitions, disquieting lawsuits and new product innovation.
At IQMS, while we finalize our year end reports and prepare our tax forms, we wanted to take a moment to look to the future. Based on our experience in the field and development feedback from our customers, IQMS has formed a few predictions about the upcoming trends to the ERP software market in 2013.
No. 1: Mobility will redefine the manufacturing workplace: The concept of constantly being connected from anywhere has pervaded our personal lives and begun making its way into the manufacturing environment. Now, through tablets, smart phones and other real-time devices, manufacturers are completely connected and can see what is occurring in their businesses from anywhere. The possibilities are endless, from on-the-fly quality inspections, workflow approvals and immediate production warnings to customer management and inventory control. The key to successful integration of mobility in your plant will be to have it all connected in one ERP system: To be able to transfer between your smart phone, tablet and the shop floor seamlessly, without batch transfers, for true real-time decision making.
No. 2: SaaS will trend downward: As companies continue to debate the options around how they run and pay for their ERP software, we predict a decline in the hype surrounding Software as a Service (Saas) choices (not to confuse SaaS with the Cloud, which will continue to be embraced). Renting your software on a subscription basis, rather than owning it outright, brings a fair share of challenges, especially for larger organizations or those in highly regulated markets. Companies that need access to their data immediately for audits, quality validations, etc. will continue to select the total ownership solution. Additionally, if operating cost calculations are done over an extended period of time (generally five to 10 years – a minimum expectation for an ERP purchase), the costs to own your software will be significantly less than a SaaS option.
No. 3: Extended ERP will be king: In a recent blog post, Panorama Consulting Solutions predicted that in 2013, best-of-breed solutions will chip away at single-system ERP software. And while we did agree with most of their ERP predictions, on this particular one, we think they did not take into account the power of an extended ERP system such as EnterpriseIQ. When an ERP system is missing critical programs, such as CRM, EDI, MES, etc., then best-of-breed will naturally be a better option. But when an ERP solution is comprehensive (for example, a combination of ERP, MES, quality management, eCommerce, accounting, etc. in one central system), that will always trump a bolted together, third-party solution with its costly integration and customization requirements. The future does lie in a single system – a single extended and comprehensive solution.
No. 4: ERP will not be declared dead: At least, not in the manufacturing world. In fact, IQMS has found that the knowledge surrounding ERP benefits and the desire for ERP software keeps increasing. Traditionally, our sales team would spend a significant amount of time educating people about the benefits of ERP software in general. Now, our sales prospects know what ERP is and they know they need it. The process now revolves around us educating potential customers on the specific benefits of our particular offerings, not on ERP as a whole. ERP software is not a trend - it is here to stay.
No. 5: Automation will be accessible to all: No matter the size or reach of your company, automation on the shop floor can be accessible to all. This mentality of “automation for all” defines a mission of sorts at IQMS: To bring automation to its customers at an affordable price. If you have an idea that can eliminate costs and increase accuracy, then we can help. IQMS has developed ways to connect to your machines at the most basic level, all the way down to the PLCs, so your goals can be limitless. Not many ERP vendors will like this last trend, because they are not prepared to support it. But if you are an IQMS customer, we are ready to assist.
No one can predict the future. But at IQMS, we feel like we have a solid pulse on the ERP market and our role in it. We plan to approach 2013 as a growth year for the manufacturing industry and an opportunity for everyone to shake off the final dregs of the recession. At IQMS, we plan to be there every step of the way, supporting our customers into the bright future.
What do you think? Any manufacturing or ERP trends that you predict for 2013?