EXISTING enterprise resource planning (ERP) software has a particular linear quality to it. Business has always talked about a customer “journey” and this has led to a concept of a chronological movement of an item or service’s through the business –inquiry through to invoice.
This transactional approach was reflected in the first ERP systems, as far back as the 1990s from, for instance, JD Edwards, Oracle or Baan, where the systems’ roots in MRP (manufacturing resource planning) were clearly apparent.
But thanks at least in part to the proliferation of technology that now plays such an intrinsic part in our lives, for an enterprise to really thrive today, it needs to act with several business models running concurrently. Demands on the enterprise which ten years ago would have seemed extraordinary are every day, now.
Today’s customers’ expectations of everything-as-a-service (XaaS) means that the organization supplying goods or services to consumers and other businesses alike needs to be able to offer products in a subscription model, on an annual stipend basis, as a one-off purchase, as a purchase with optional add-ons, or, any combination of those! It’s what customers, partners, and suppliers expect, and it’s what the enterprise needs to provide.
This situation brings us back to the failings of old-school ERP software. Although the transactional, chronological basis for some commercial activity needs preserving (order – produce – invoice – receive payment – repeat), a good ERP has to reflect the adjustment that its users have to make.
CRMs such as Salesforce are good – very good – at marketing, sales, and services, but are unable to extend customer service levels to the next plateau. Today’s enterprise needs to add, to a system such as Salesforce, the ability to cope with finances (“what’s this charge on my account?”), services (“where are we in the project to date?”) and the supply chain (“when is the shipment due at our distribution center?”).