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Consumerisation of IT offers a glimpse into the future of ERP

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Viesturs Zalaiskalns, HansaWorld South Africa channel manager, says ERP vendors that fail to offer a user-friendly, mobile interface will run the risk of falling behind.
The generation known as Millennials will soon make up half of the global workforce, and as the generation that is the first to be classified as ‘digital natives’, their views on technology are inevitably going to have an impact on the companies they choose to work for.
Not only will these businesses need to adapt in order to attract and retain the best talent, but their internal systems will need to change to suit this new generation of workers. For example, since these young professionals most likely had their earliest foray into IT via Facebook and Google Search, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software will need to evolve to have a similar look and feel as the apps and consumer platforms these Millennials are accustomed to using.
In today’s world, users want to be able to access ERP systems from anywhere, using any device. This is particularly relevant as employees become more mobile and are increasingly required to work remotely. By providing these mobile workers with systems that offer user-friendly interfaces and platforms that make working easier, the users will be more comfortable and happier to use these applications. This, in turn, will boost overall efficiency and ultimately make their jobs easier.
When creating an ERP app of any kind today, it is imperative that the initial design be done with mobile devices in mind. The importance of mobility is increasing exponentially, so delivering an app to meet this demand is the single most important aim – once this is done, the app can be extrapolated to larger devices such as laptops and desktops.
App stores have played a growing role in the increasing consumerisation of ERP systems. These stores have changed the perception of software; it has become more accessible, seamless to install and is more intuitive to use.
Obviously, the same expectation level exists when it comes to ERP software. As a result, vendors operating in the ERP space need to be able to deliver accessible, easy-to-use technology, even though this will mean that large parts of their software code will need to be rewritten.
This consumerised approach to ERP will likely have an additional positive impact on the user experience of such tools. ERP apps – just like any other apps available in the leading app stores – would have to undergo scrutiny levels that would ensure the software package complies with usability and intuitiveness factors.
If an ERP app is able to pass the scrutiny of the app store itself, it will already be able to guarantee a certain level of expectation when it comes to the user experience.
It must also be understood that a key part of the expectation of the consumerised market is that when it comes to working with an app, users demand a basic plug-and-play operation.
The cloud is vital in the effective delivery of such an offering, as it is capable of enabling this ‘plug-and-play’ environment. As a result, selecting an app that is cloud-enabled is absolutely critical if an organisation is to ensure that the app is future proof.
In the end, vendors that wish to deliver ERP solutions that are consumerised for the Millennial Generation need to understand the nature of the modern, ‘instant gratification’ user. This means providing solutions that are mobile, user friendly and extremely easy to use. If you can deliver on all these points, you will likely see a huge upturn in both productivity and efficiencies.