The results of IDC’s 2014 IT Services Survey reveals that as we look ahead beyond 2015, the industry is entering a critical period of disruptive transformation — what it calls the “innovation stage” of the 3rd Platform era. Information technology will be the most important catalyst and enabler, to facilitate this trend, the study suggests.
Given this background, the quote ‘adapt or die’ then becomes ubiquitous with businesses needing to move with the times if they wish to thrive. However, is adaptability enough? As we all live and work in a world of ever decreasing timescales for everything we do, success and survival is as much about our ability to respond, as it is to simply adapt.
Responsiveness Vs Adaptability
The difference between responsiveness and adaptability is subtle, but critical. Adaptability means change but it doesn’t specify the pace at which it must take place. But being responsive is about being fit and fast. In truth, the best businesses will, in the future, need to be both responsive and adaptive. Responsiveness is a corporate state of mind and day to day action in equal measure and must be delivered from the boardroom to the shop floor.
ERP is Redefined
The need to be responsive has changed the goalposts drastically in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Being responsive is vital to serving customers better than your competitor, adapting to market demands quicker and being able to take opportunities for faster growth. To be responsive means you have to be a fit, fast and flexible organization. Fifteen years ago, ERP was purely a back office system, and its primary function was to provide robust transactional support. Now ERP is an all-embracing tool for businesses, touching employees, customers, partners and suppliers alike.
Modern ERP solutions can help companies become more agile and effective in meeting changing business requirements because they can optimize operational performance, accelerate productivity and provide visibility for faster decision making.
Companies who are either looking to upgrade, replace or simply buy a new ERP system, must ensure that it delivers on their need to be responsiveness, both internally and externally.
There are four main areas where businesses are trying to be more responsive – operationally, strategically, externally (with customers) and personally (with employees).
Being responsive operationally means being able to react to day to day requirements and changes to the benefit of the business.
ERP solutions allow businesses to automate every operation within the order-to-fulfillment cycle. Organisations can standardize on best practices for production,planning and execution to streamline and accelerate these operations, as well as deliver consistent quality. Automated best-practice processes help keep costs low and handle increasing orders with the same quality and response rate.
Business strategy is a key area where responsiveness can make a real difference. The management team’s ability to access the right information from the systems and to respond to changes in the business and market allows them to be in greater control.
Business intelligence and reporting tools within an ERP solution provide access to data that allows management to analyze historical time, cost, labor, and quality data and compare it to estimates to enable continuous improvement. This allows them to see how successful past projections were and adjust their forecasts moving forward. The result can be greater accuracy when planning and better investments.
Customer responsiveness is about having information available at hand to predict a customer’s next move so that businesses can be ready to act.
By using an ERP solution to automate the order-to-fulfillment process, companies can improve communication by eliminating silos, improve efficiency by automating processes around best practices, and reduce labor and purchasing costs. And as a result they are better able to keep pace with customer demands for innovation, respond quickly to changing standards, lower costs and improve their competitive advantage.
Best in class companies have integrated ERP and e-commerce solutions to close process and information gaps and provide a 360-degree view of the order-to-fulfillment process. Regardless of the sales channel, companies need to tell customers when they can expect to receive their goods as they’re placing an order.
Companies must have insight into the availability of raw materials or goods from suppliers when planning for demand, making forecasts, and purchasing. Extending ERP capabilities through integration with other external solutions means ERP systems need to be able to extend easily in order to deliver the seamless experience and service customers require.
Personal responsiveness is about giving people the means and information to act quickly, decisively and accurately. People don’t want to have to dip in and out of separate systems to find information; that creates the likelihood of bypassing correct procedures, and there is a higher risk of errors. Systems need to be integrated, for example linking ERP into core tools such as Outlook to manage tasks. ERPs that integrate personalized, agile tools based on familiar Microsoft technologies or social applications are easier to learn, quicker to maximise and blur the lines between business and personal software. Key applications such as ERP need to be accessible on a wide range of devices, including those specified and owned by the people themselves.
The Darwinian theory of adapt or die has long become a commodity quality in businesses; responsiveness is truly the new era of business evolution.
Disclaimer: This is a contributed post. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamWire and the editor(s).