This is a recurring subject concerning ERP and the question could be formulated as follows: Will ERP “survive” the digital transformation and the wave of solutions and applications that are being installed in the various departments? of any organization? According to some, it would thus be necessary to oppose ERP and digital transformation .
On the one hand, ERP, a term itself considered obsolete (in the field of IT, any denomination assigned more than 20 years ago is, de facto, considered obsolete) and which defines a solution itself is sometimes even accused of being too rigid, complex or long to implement.
On the other hand, the miracles of digital transformation, a very practical term since it covers a rather vague and moving reality, although palpable, and which makes it possible to encompass an almost infinite number of organizational and technological changes in the same unifying and seller.
By definition, digital transformation embodies adaptation and modernity, and for its most ardent supporters, it could be the solution to almost all of the current problems of organizations. So, why not rely on this concept, on the almost infinite number of solutions and applications available, to radically modify the way a company operates, freeing itself from ERP?
ERP is not there by chance
Let us reason by the absurd, taking the example of the automobile. It appeared more than a century ago, and when Ford democratized it by deciding to mass-produce it in 1908, it already included a chassis, 4 wheels, a steering wheel, a engine, a dashboard with dials, pedals and joysticks for controls, bodywork. This structure was born from the rationalization of its functionalities .
Since that time, we have all seen a thousand times articles announcing a revolution in the field of the automobile. Whether it is the amphibious car or flying vehicles, we have witnessed in 1 century. Until the present revolution, also linked to digital transformation: the autonomous, driverless car, which is also very real and already works… but with a chassis, 4 wheels, and almost all the classic components of a vehicle.
The specifications have not changed that much (carrying passengers on a motorable road), technology has not revolutionized the tool . A motorist from 1908 could be transported to 2017, and instantly recognize a car (which is not the case with a telephone, however).
The ERP is also built on specifications that have not fundamentally changed since its creation. Despite the rapid evolution of the industry and the company in general, it is always necessary to make units of design, supply, manufacturing, sales, invoicing, logistics…and the answer is always the ERP.
It should also be noted: all recent studies note that ERP is one of the most widespread solutions in companies of all sizes, and the market is still growing at around 3% per year.
Yes, flexibility is an answer. But…
Of course, we can blame the ERP for a certain rigidity. But we do not blame a vehicle (to use the previous analogy) for the rigidity of its chassis, since that is its primary function and the result of its specifications.
If the ERP imposes rules in the formatting and data entry, which must prevail throughout the company, we understand that it can be felt as “embarrassing” by all those who would prefer to replace it with a simple spreadsheet or an application. on their smartphone. But this rigidity is only a means of preserving the consistency of the data , and therefore the possibility of using it and obtaining quality reporting, with a Business Intelligence module and dashboards, for example.
The ERP may convey an apparent heaviness and a certain number of obligations, but it is in its role of guarantor of regulations and procedures. A brake on creativity, some would say. But spelling and grammar could be qualified as the same, since they oblige everyone to respect binding rules, but very useful when it comes, in the end, to reading and distributing a work.
Flexibility, so much vaunted these days, and which we readily associate with digital transformation – a problem in a service = a micro solution – also has a downside: the dispersion and fragmentation of data and IT. ERP and digital transformation must be subjects taken together in order to preserve the major advantage of the implementation of an ERP: the uniqueness of the data.
ERP and digital transformation: what if we achieved the same result?
There is no real antagonism between a structuring and large-scale solution like ERP and digital transformation. Unless the latter is reduced to its BYOB dimension (Bring Your Own Business) or to the assembly of multiple “best of breed” solutions or various applications.
Basically, digital transformation does not consist in letting everyone in the company have a free hand, so that everyone can choose a solution that suits them. It is then up to someone (but who?), to guarantee the consistency of the whole .
On the other hand, it consists of the company relying on a structuring digital solution , even if it is unique, to allow greater productivity, greater respect for deadlines and obligations, and better functioning of the supply chain. , and even if possible a greater satisfaction of its employees.
The ERP still fully meets this need, especially since it has also been able to adapt to recent needs and uses. It remains to wish him to become a little more “playful”, which is certainly far from his primary reason for being, but would perhaps be enough to make him sympathetic to his detractors.
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