Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is a prominent category for industry analysts. This makes sense, given how big of an investment ERP can be and how critical the solution will be for a company’s financial success. Analysts help ERP buyers sort through their options and understand which solution will work the best for their businesses. Analyst firms also provide useful industry context for making an ERP purchase. Here are some recent examples of analyst coverage for cloud ERP, an emerging category, and for Acumatica, one of the most promising cloud ERP solutions on the market today.

Overview: The Rise of Cloud ERP

ERP is moving to the cloud. This does not mean that every single ERP instance in the world will one day be cloud-hosted. There are still many valid reasons for on-premises ERP and many companies will wisely avoid making the change. However, in general, cloud ERP is coming, especially for smaller businesses.

The public cloud will be the hosting platform of choice for ERP, especially in the mid-market. Gartner, in its “Magic Quadrant for Cloud ERP for Product-Centric Midsize Enterprises” (October 2018), predicts that 70% of all new midmarket ERP application projects for product-centric enterprises will be based in the public cloud by 2021. This dramatic shift to the cloud will cause, according to Gartner, a deficit in trained cloud ERP personnel. They estimate that 65% of system integrators and resellers will be unable to train their teams in cloud ERP skills through 2021.

The Rise of AI in ERP

ERP solutions are increasingly integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their functionality. As Gartner analysts Denise Ganly and Christopher lervolino explained in “A Guide to AI in Postmodern ERP Strategies” (June 2018), “ERP vendors are incorporating a continuously evolving, broad range of artificial intelligence technologies into their offerings. CIOs should leverage this research to gain a better appreciation of AI capabilities in relation to developing or refining their postmodern ERP strategies.” According to the analysts, AI will help business managers intelligently connect a variety of systems to ERP in ways that drive better decision making.

APIs: Providing Value for ERP through Integration

The “IDC MarketScape: Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled Operational ERP Applications 2019 Vendor Assessment,” praised Acumatica for its use of open Application Programing Interfaces (APIs). As the report stated, “Acumatica has a modern cloud-based platform (open APIs) approach with strong business process workflows built in, highly functional mobile application, consumption-based licensing, and additional modules such as CRM fully integrated on the same platform — along with UI, dashboards, and reporting.”

Bringing CRM into the ERP Equation

Customer Resource management (CRM) tools are part of the ERP mix, according to some analysts. This makes sense. Customer relationships and financial transactions are closely linked. For example, Nucleus Research included Acumatica in its 2019 CRM Technology Value Matrix. As they said in their report, “Although Acumatica is primarily an enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor, it is covered in the CRM Value Matrix because of its integration and breadth of features that make it a competitive CRM product. It is also noteworthy that Acumatica uses the same UI across all modules, so users can be easily trained on ERP and CRM capabilities.”