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Q&A: Why you should care about Postmodern ERP

We recently read an article about Postmodern ERP by Forrest Burnson, who is the ERP market researcher at Software Advice, a company that helps buyers choose ERP systems.

We had some follow up questions for Mr. Burnson – and we wanted to confirm our college literature professor didn’t take up a career creating IT terms – so we reached out to get some answers.

'ERP' was first coined by Gartner in 1990. How has the industry changed since then?

A lot has changed since 1990. ERP software is not just for Fortune 500 companies anymore. There are thousands of different vendors targeting various industry niches, though a handful of vendors still have most of the market share. More small to midsize enterprises are deploying ERP or quasi-ERP solutions, which has created a lot of opportunities for the vendors.

Obviously, the software itself has changed dramatically. It's far more functional, intuitive and accessible. Nowadays, ERP touches every facet of a business's operations, whereas it used to be more limited to core functional areas like accounting and manufacturing.

What exactly does the term 'postmodern ERP' mean?

Postmodern ERP is a technology strategy that rejects the traditional ERP strategy of implementing a highly customised suite of applications provided by one vendor. Instead, a postmodern ERP strategy favours implementing a mixture of cloud and on-premise applications that are better able to meet an organisation's needs while still providing them a greater degree of agility and flexibility. It is the next step in the evolution of the ERP landscape.

Why should businesses be thinking about upgrading their current ERP systems?

It depends on the business. A business relying on an older legacy system is going to face more and more headaches down the road as the system becomes more outdated and unreliable. Businesses that don't have a formal system in place and are growing rapidly can benefit tremendously from the organisation and standardisation that an ERP system provides. For them, it's one of those things where implementing a system early on will make their lives much easier later in the business's trajectory.

Above all, it's imperative for any business to consider how much time and money is being wasted when they are using manual methods or are relying on a mélange of disparate, un-integrated systems to accomplish critical business processes. Too often the ROI for implementing a new ERP system (or otherwise overhauling an organisation's IT infrastructure) is more apparent than decision makers care to realise.

What options are available to businesses?

There are too many options for me to even list. For every business, regardless of size or industry niche, there are usually several appropriate solutions for each functional area they need software for.

How is the industry expected to develop in 2016?

In general, I think more larger organisations will be dropping their legacy ERP suites and pursuing a postmodern strategy. More organisations will be moving different application/functional areas to the cloud, as that has been an ongoing trend.

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