by Samuel Greengard

Yesterday's thoroughbred technology is today's broken-down horse. How quickly things change in the digital age.

According to a recent survey conducted by enterprise resource planning software firm IFS America, almost 60 percent of respondents--more than 200 executives of midsize and large companies throughout North America--believe that ERP software slows them down and prevents their organizations from changing the way they do business.

More specifically, 57 percent of respondents said that their ERP software forces them to do things in a proscribed way and cannot be configured to accommodate different processes, and 54 percent agreed that once in place, their enterprise software is very difficult to reconfigure, "as if it were dipped in concrete," one executive stated. You can download the study here.

It's safe to say that IFS has an axe to grind here. The company promotes a more granular approach to ERP than many of its competitors and it's obviously looking to distinguish itself. But this doesn't make the research any less valid. What's more, it raises an interesting and thought-provoking question: are the days of monolithic enterprise software numbered?

I'm willing to say "yes."

Although ERP and other enterprise applications aren't going to die off within the next few years, they're going to have to adapt and change radically. It's obvious that enterprise computing is becoming more chaotic and helter-skelter than ever before. Smartphones, tablets, cloud computing, VDIs and a tangle of other tools and technologies are radically changing the way data flows.

The old gravity no longer applies. These days, data flows uphill, sideways, every which way. And, make no mistake, the organizations that connect the dots are poised to achieve a distinct competitive advantage. It's not enough to think about flexibility and agility; it's critical to live it and breath it.

Savvy IT leaders understand that the only real rule in today's business environment is to look for ways to break the rules and find the wormhole that leads to bigger, better and more efficient.

Amazing how in just over a decade, ERP morphed from a solution to a problem. Welcome to the new frontier. The challenges grow...but so do the opportunities. It's the new physics.


3 Comments for "ERP,RIP-1"

  • Dennis Goldensohn May 05, 2011 8:28 am

    Many customers who are using outdated legacy systems and want to have a global system that is standardized and eliminates manual repoorting and to also achieve a higher level of accuracy and flow throughout the oprganization. ERP solutions-vendors promise this but within the solution there are rigid assumptions which may not satisfy the end needs of the customer. Thus there is a request to modify the ERP solution to satisfy these needs. So is it standardization or flexibility that is wanted here? As we all know, the ERP vendors would love nothing more to customize their solutions due to the fact it puts more money in their pockets. Neverthelss, the implementation takes longer, the macros may not function properly with the updating-version of the software and displeasure between the customer and supplier develops. The best way to solve this is to have metrics that fully describe what the outcome should be after the implementation process is completed. There is just too much time and resources applied in an ERP implementation to have to go back to zero to redefine what should have been the outcomes!

  • Richard minney May 04, 2011 7:40 am

    For some legacy ERP vendors it is a question of if they "can" adapt not if they want to. Anyone can add modern features to an older business app (like Salesforce.com did with chatter) and while consumers appreciate it they know it is an add-on. More cynically, any big ERP vendor can acquire some small hot-tech and pretend the new application is now an integral part of their stack. But when even the biggest vendors in the world really sit down and try to modernize their architect from the foundation up they realize that they have to, er, start again from a clean sheet of paper. That's what Oracle dud with Fusion and SAP did with BusinessByDesign. Both commendable programs but both ever so slow to yield financial benefits. Will another other ERP vendor (most of whom have massive debts due to acquisition sprees) have the pockets, stomach or heart to do the right thing and rebuild their expensively acquired but horribly outdated products from a clean set of blueprints? I think not.

  • JHLundin May 03, 2011 10:16 am

    ERP has always been about conforming the organization to a rigorous, PREscribed methodology so that the data structure would have the power of a robust design... Flexibility is a double edged sword (having seen many instances where two queries that should produce the same output result in different answers)... Thanks for being a critical consumer of specific research, J

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