November 23, 2018
Automation has always been about streamlining routine manual tasks, increasing output and improving efficiency. This was the case in the first Industrial Revolution when automation was identified as a manufacturing need to fuel greater production. The automation of business processes received a welcome boost due to the rapid increase of computing during the second half of the 20th century. With accounting processes as the first port of business, software soon included all areas associated with business process management - hence the birth of ERP systems and automated business process management.
An example is Standard ERP developed by HansaWorld where purchase orders (PO) have been automated for more than two decades. Used with business alerts, users define who needs to approve a PO and the amount for approval. This streamlined process eliminates errors caused by human handling and speeds up the process considerably. So one centralized system manages accounts, order processing and customer relationship management (CRM). These processes are automated to create an efficient workflow and reduce staff errors.
The automation of ERP systems and supporting technology has remained far from static over the years. Many changes have occurred - Internet connectivity has greatly improved in most global regions therefore making cloud-hosted software a reality. HansaWorld has been offering cloud-hosted ERP solutions for almost twenty years. Another byproduct is mobile-ready ERP - staff enjoy all the real-time benefits of Standard ERP from their phones, while out of the office.
Integrations with third-party software have further broadened the scope of automation. Take for example, Standard ERP’s integration with Envestnet Yodlee, which assists in automating bank reconciliations, or SiteMinder which enables Standard ERP to integrate with online booking engines for hotel reservations. Standard ERP in conjunction with SiteMinder can be further automated to check for bookings at intervals, while updating the status of available rooms. Similarly, Avalara integration automates the correct tax allocation for the various US states.
Business management software is undergoing digital transformation. Developers look to emerging technologies to make ERP systems even smarter. In manufacturing terms, this is called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, although it is more commonly associated with buzzwords such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data and the universal Internet of Things.
Emerging tech-enhanced systems have been available for some time in the ERP market. Products for small to medium enterprises have been slower to appear because technology has not been readily available in that market. HansaWorld has focused on these markets and, is on the verge of releasing an AI-enabled CRM offering in the form of Anna, a talkbot.
According to Gartner, more companies will follow this trend. More than 50% of all companies are expected to spend more on talkbot creation than traditional app development. The future is filled with ever-developing enhancements that will enable our ERP software - and the people who use it - to be smarter.