Most industry experts note that ERP systems have reached a level of maturity. -The innovation and accessibility brought to the marketplace by cloud-based ERP vendors notwithstanding; the role and functionality of ERPs have remained more or less the same for the past several years. But changes are around the corner, and “what’s next for ERPs”are coming in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
In a nutshell, these technologies will enable ERP solutions tolearn, speak, read, respond, predict, and execute transactions—they’ll take business software into uncharted territories. They represent the next step in digital transformation for organizations that are already tapping into cloud computing to shape their more agile and forward-focused business models. Here, we explore what this means to today’s growing businesses investing in cloud ERP solutions.
AI and Machine Learning: Already Here?
The building blogs for AI and machine learning are already in place—or the tracks are being laid down, at least. Cloud computing offers incredible storage capability and processing power, accommodating the significant (and growing) data demands of growing businesses using internet of things (IoT) devices—from sensors attached to machines on the factory floors to tracking tools connected to their vehicles. (Don’t miss 15 Ways IoT Technology Could Impact Your Business by 2020 for more insights.)?
The data being collected is used for more than IoT applications: It also forms the basis for machine learning and AI—and all of the tools being designed and used to aid in decision-making and serving customers, for instance. Aside from the data itself, today’s (and tomorrow’s) ERP software is able to make sense of structured and unstructured data from disparate sources. And its ability to do so will only improve as systems get “smarter” and users themselves not only learn what they can dowith the data, but also get their hands on the tools that enable them to doit. In other words, we’re still answering the question, “What’s possible with this technology?”
Cloud ERP providers are already integrating AI and ML into their platforms andimpacting operations for customers. Consider these examples:
- Warehouse management – AI and ML technology can precisely test demand-forecasting models and automatically adjust to different variables such as fluctuations in demand, introduction of new products, and changes in the supply chain.
- Financial management– Technology can automate accounting functions (e.g. categorize invoice information into various accounts) thanks to it’s “learned” ability to tell the different between a phone bill and a phone purchase, for example. Taking this to the next level, systems can use both transaction data and human input to assess what’s accurate and what accounts for a “good decision.” AI and ML can be put to work to help speed up and automate processes and help both business users and their customers solve problems, on-demand.
- Customer service– By processing data from customer records and historical transactions—and integrating real-time data from various departments—AI solutions can help businesses plan and schedule service calls, for instance. Virtual agents, like chatbots, can also be employed to answer customer questions and provide guidance to website visitors.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, in which we’ll look more specifically of the AI and ML functionality being incorporated into NetSuite and Acumatica’s cloud ERP solutions.
If you’re interested in learning more about modern, cloud-based ERPs and how they can help your organization’s digital transformation goals, schedule a free consultation with MIBAR and start exploring the possibilities.