A recent survey showed that 70% of companies are actively working towards digital transformation — so it’s not surprising that ERP remains one of the most important technologies for businesses to have at their disposal.
ERP empowers companies to organize, analyze, and utilize the data that is quickly becoming the lifeblood of their organization. As technology evolves in impressive and unexpected ways, ERP is an essential business tool now more than it’s ever been.
2019 promises to be a watershed year for ERP. If you don’t have an ERP system in place, you’re going to be overdue. If you’re already using ERP, you can look forward to exciting advancements that will take your system to the next level.
No matter which camp you fall into, stay informed of the following trends to keep your competitive edge in the manufacturing industry this year.
- The Rise of Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing — also known as 3D printing — is transforming how we manufacture large-scale, high-volume and complex products. Bigger and faster printers make it possible to cut costs, boost efficiency, and improve parts such as seat buckles and engines. The challenge for manufacturers is managing the avalanche of data that comes with 3D printing.
Additive manufacturing increases your volume of data at every step of the production process, and your ERP system must be able to keep up. As manufacturers implement 3D printers throughout 2019, they will need to carefully review the capabilities of their existing ERP to be able to reap the rewards of this trend.
- Built-In Analytics
Older ERP systems may excel at collecting and organizing data, but they are more limited when it comes to analytics and reporting. Now that data-driven decision-making has become every manufacturer’s priority, ERP solutions are improving their analytics capabilities to meet manufacturers’ needs.
Modern ERP solutions allow users to run ad-hoc reports, access data visualizations or embed analytics tools into their existing applications. This provides real-time information leaders can use to make key decisions quickly.
Through 2019 and beyond, ERP will increasingly become an end-to-end data tool that informs decision-making at all levels — from the executive suite to the factory floor. For modern manufacturers, this means it will be critical to invest in a modern ERP solution in order to keep up with your data-driven competitors.
- Cloud Dominance
Cloud ERP is nothing new, but it’s quickly becoming industry standard for many manufacturing sectors. The cloud ERP market is projected to grow from $18.5 billion in 2016 to $29.8 billion in 2021, as more companies look beyond on-premises solutions. The forecasted growth makes sense considering the benefits of the cloud, which include lower costs, broader access, easier management, and better security. An off-site ERP solution will become especially advantageous as many manufacturers continue to expand their operations across the globe.
As the cloud ERP market continues to diversify in 2019, we expect to see more features and customization options to suit your manufacturing needs.
- Direct Machine Integration
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making manufacturing more efficient and improving transparency as we move into the new year — and further into Industry 4.0.
Internet-connected sensors create a direct link between an operational piece of machinery and your ERP system. The ERP system automatically collects real-time data about machine performance, so production can be tracked closely and improved precisely, with fewer human technicians and less manual input.
This data can help manufacturers schedule routine maintenance to avoid sudden mechanical breakdowns and costly downtime. Using IoT devices with ERP promotes communication between all of your systems and increases visibility into your supply chain, keeping your entire organization on the same page.
- ERP as Part of a Broader Strategy
While ERP has a key role in digital transformation, it’s not the only factor that plays a part. Digital transformation also requires evolving your company culture to embrace digital change, training or hiring for new skills, and revising your workflows to fit new technologies.
In the past, most ERP implementations happened in isolation, but that will become rare in 2019. Most implementations will act as just one piece of a much broader change management strategy and new ERP solutions will be implemented in conjunction with other tech upgrades. That means it’s essential to have an ERP system that has been designed with your manufacturing company’s unique needs and goals in mind.