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ERP Software: Preparing Manufacturing And High-Tech Organisations For What’s Next

In our digital, data-driven world, software—particularly enterprise resource planning (ERP) software—is one of the principal tools organisations leverage to keep the enterprise ship sailing boldly forward. By Anthony Bourne, vice president, Global Industry Solutions, IFS

In today’s accelerating and volatile global marketplace, manufacturers and high-tech companies understand that change is not only constant, but a constant challenge as well. The nature of technological innovation and prevalence of economic uncertainty have transformed the environment for manufacturers from one that was rather slow-moving and monolithic to today’s fast-paced, hypercompetitive, time-sensitive, customer-demanding, increasingly nuanced global commercial ecosystem. Competition can come from anywhere on the globe at breathtaking speed, and risk and opportunity are usually, if not always, closely coupled.

Keeping risk at bay, and identifying and seizing opportunity are traits of companies that thrive in this difficult environment and steer a steady course in seas where potential crisis lurks.

How The Right Software Addresses Business

Challenges

The right business software supports manufacturing’s ability to meet emerging challenges and respond to constant change by providing the foundation for enterprise agility. The concept of manufacturing agility involves the development of manufacturing capabilities to achieve sustained competitive advantage in an unpredictable environment. Agility is the product of three foundational blocks—vision, knowledge, and flexibility—that effectively designed and developed software facilitates across the business.

As an example, one of the most prominent business challenges come from disruptive innovations, those that help create new markets and value networks, eventually disrupting an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), and displacing earlier technologies. When new tech­nologies emerge, the decline of industries is neither rapid nor immediate; but successful manufacturers understand that growth demands innovation, and innovation in the sector cannot occur without embracing technologically-advanced manufacturing capabilities.

Vision

Vision is the ability to link business strategy and growth aspirations to technology investment, and to make informed decisions that prove effective over time. Clear vision enables a manufacturer to correctly assess and balance the risks and opportunities of disruptive technologies. The right business software helps focus and clarify vision.

Knowledge

Knowledge is the ability to identify, understand, and predict new sources of threat or opportunity across daily business operations and projects. Knowledge enables business insight, the most valuable form of which comes from the ability to assemble a clear, compre­hensive, and accurate view of the past, present, and future status of assets, infrastructure, and employees, across even the most complex global operations and projects. The right business software gathers, assembles, and disseminates knowledge in real time, where and when it is needed.

Flexibility

Flexibility is the ability to take action rapidly when things happen, expectedly or unexpectedly, founded on technology that makes rapid and responsive change possible. The right software is a critical part of this technology. Vision and knowledge are not fully empowered unless an organisation has the flexibility to rapidly change its shape or focus to seize new opportunity or mitigate risk. Flexible business technology is necessary for this, but so too is a business culture that embraces rather than hinders change and rapid response.

Ready For Servitisation And What’s Next?

Companies that have added service to their offerings, adapted their organisations to enable this and acquired the requisite technology (often in the form of integrated, full-scope enterprise software) have confronted the question of ‘What’s next?—and reaped significant benefits. In fact, adding service contributes to much of what is the very essence of good business, viz. actively looking to the future and seeking to shape it and create opportunities, rather than merely grasping those that arise.

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