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.