neurons Image credit pixably/geraltChances are, your enterprise is already on the path to digital transformation – focussed on leveraging new technologies to cater to changing customer demands.  In the pursuit of a digital experience, though, are you also evolving your core systems – the key transactional systems that your business depends on?  If not, you may be limiting the potential of your digital transformation.

Boundaryless Digital Transformation

Many organisations have started putting the ‘heart’ back into their digital transformation. They’re evolving their core systems in tandem with their customer-facing ones and – in the process – eliminating boundaries.

The key to a boundaryless transformation strategy is a relentless focus on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. ERP runs mission-critical processes such as financials, planning, HR, supply chain, manufacturing and logistics.

Our 2019 ERP survey of CIOs across the United Kingdom reveals a clear consensus: They refuse to let core inflexibility impede holistic digital transformation. It found that 86% of organisations are extending or planning to extend inflexible ERP solutions with new intelligent technologies, such as analytics, automation, AI or machine learning.

When your core systems can support agility and innovation you can create a competitive edge.  Breaking the shackles of out-dated inflexible systems that hinder rather than empower, you can support business change and be ambitious in your targets.

Often an enterprise’s ‘digital initiatives’ focus on customer facing functions such as marketing, sales and the user experience, both in mindshare and investment.  Since organisations are continually being pushed to improve their engagement with their customers this is not surprising.  Enterprise IT is, however, a team sport, not a collection of star players.

As Forrester, a leading technology analyst firm, points out there is an alarming digital divide within many companies.  Marketeers develop nimble point solutions to give customers an engaging and personalised experience, while IT departments remain shackled to inflexible legacy systems and infrastructure.  In these cases, the front and back end don’t work together, and this often results in an appealing website, but a process that simply doesn’t deliver.  Ultimately this leads to inflexibility, quality issues and customer dissatisfaction. Plus additional maintenance costs when you discover something that doesn’t work properly. It’s a digital sticky plaster rather than an end-to-end intelligent enterprise solution.

Transforming business models with ERP in five steps

Accenture’s 2019 ERP Trends analysis has identified five key actions that we believe are important in future ERP evolutions.  In combination or alone each has the ability to significantly support transformation of business models – improving business agility and fuelling growth. Understanding these trends may help you to direct your digital transformation more effectively, and with fewer constraints.  These five trends are:

  • Treat cloud as the gateway to modernisation
    Develop a nuanced cloud strategy that suits your business ambitions. Engineer cloud as part of a larger strategy around digital transformation, cost savings and new business models.
  • Make your core intelligent and extended
    Invest in intelligence and automation—powered by AI, machine-learning, and analytics: not as an add-on but as a core part of your ERP platform. Enable your business to extend at scale and in real-time.
  • Partner with cloud captains, not traditional services firms
    Find co-creation partners that differentiate by re-imagining services delivery models, who are technology agnostic, and specialise in your business.
  • Personalise
    Make user experience (UX) seamless across channels and platforms then personalise relentlessly.
  • Amplify insights by converging data
    Treat data as an asset. Free up the data in your ERP systems and converge different data sources to get clearer insight and deeper intelligence.

These five trends are fundamentally important. Together they can enable you to bring about change both in your technology and importantly your business.  Enterprises should thus assess their relative position against each trend, evaluating how they currently fare and forming a plan for a journey from “as-is” to “north star”. Each organisation’s path to creating flexibility at the heart of the business may differ, and that’s fine.

Looking to a better future

Imagine what you could achieve if your enterprise’s core systems were flexible enough to soak up the benefits of technological waves.  Imagine if your ERP systems were not just record-keepers, but the ingredients for business intelligence. They would lead to rapid product launches, improved services and processes, and the execution of new strategies, at scale and at speed.  In this new boundaryless normal, what could your business achieve?

To read the full Accenture 2019 ERP Trends Report based on a survey of CIOs in the United Kingdom please use the link below:

www.accenture.com/gb-en/insights/technology/2019-erp-trends


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John Erik Ellingsen is a managing director and the lead of the Accenture SAP Business Group in UK and Ireland. He is responsible for helping our clients innovate and transform in a digital world using the SAP ecosystem – a comprehensive ecosystem spanning ERP and the customer channels enabling clients to compete and be effective in a digital world. As the leading SAP consultancy, system integrator and application developer, Accenture provides comprehensive capabilities to assist our clients, including cloud services, SAP S/4 HANA, customer experience, big data solutions, advanced analytics, eComm and mobile solutions. Prior to this role John Erik led Accenture’s Technology practice for our Products Sector (Consumer Goods, Life Sciences, Retail, Automotive, Industrials, Infrastructure, Travel and Transportation), supporting clients with services spanning IT Strategy, Technology Consulting, Business and Systems Integration, Programme and Delivery Management, Digital / Cloud / SaaS / ERP Implementations, Enterprise Architecture and Software, Application & Infrastructure Services. The majority of John Erik’s career has been in business transformation and system integration projects across numerous clients in Government, Utilities, Financial Services and Products – including key leadership roles on many of Accenture’s most complex and innovative programmes to deliver transformational capabilities and value to clients.

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