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Posts from the ‘Cloud ERP’ Category

6 Ways Cloud ERP Is Revolutionizing How Services Deliver Results

  • Cloud ERP is the fastest growing sector of the global ERP market with services-based businesses driving the majority of new revenue growth.
  • Legacy Services ERP providers excel at meeting professional & consulting services information needs yet often lack the flexibility and speed to support entirely new services business models.
  • Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) is quickly emerging as a must-have feature in Services-based Cloud ERP suites.

From globally-based telecommunications providers to small & medium businesses (SMBs) launching new subscription-based services, the intensity to innovate has never been stronger. Legacy Services ERP and Cloud ERP vendors are responding differently to the urgent needs their prospects and customers have with new apps and suites that can help launch new business models and ventures.

Services-based Cloud ERP providers are reacting by accelerating improvements to Professional Services Automation (PSA), Financials, and questioning if their existing Human Capital Management (HCM) suite can scale now and in the future. Vertical industry specialization is a must-have in many services businesses as well.  Factoring all these customer expectations and requirements along with real-time responsiveness into a roadmap deliverable in 12 months or less is daunting.  Making good on the promises of ambitious roadmaps that includes biannual release cycles is how born-in-the-Cloud ERP providers will gain new customers including winning many away from legacy ERP providers who can’t react as fast.

The following key takeaways are based on ongoing discussions with global telecommunications providers, hosters and business & professional services providers actively evaluating Cloud ERP suites:

  • Roadmaps that reflect a biyearly release cadence complete with user experience upgrades are the new normal for Cloud ERP providers. Capitalizing on the strengths of the Salesforce platform makes this much easier to accomplish than attempting to create entirely new releases every six months based on unique code lines. FinancialForceKenandy and Sage have built their Cloud ERP suites on the Salesforce platform specifically for this reason. Of the three, only FinancialForce has provided detailed product roadmaps that specifically call out support for evolving services business models, multiple user interface (UI) refreshes and new features based on customer needs. FinancialForce is also one of the only Cloud ERP providers to publish their Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) already to support their current and next generation user interfaces.
  • Cloud ERP leaders are collaborators in the creation of new APIs with their cloud platform provider with a focus on analytics, integration and real-time application response. Overcoming the challenges of continually improving platform-based applications and suites need to start with strong collaboration around API development. FinancialForce’s decision to hire Tod Nielsen, former Executive Vice President, Platform at Salesforce as their CEO in January of this year reflects how important platform integration and an API-first integration strategy is to compete in the Cloud ERP marketplace today. Look for FinancialForce to have a break-out year in the areas of platform and partner integration.
  • Analytics designed into the platform so customers can create real-time dashboards and support the services opportunity-to-revenue lifecycle. Real-time data is the fuel that gets new service business models off the ground. When a new release of a Cloud ERP app is designed, it has to include real-time Application Programming Interface (API) links to its cloud platform so customers can scale their analytics and reporting to succeed. What’s most important about this from a product standpoint is designing in the scale to flex and support an entire opportunity-to-revenue lifecycle.
  • Having customer & partner councils involved in key phases of development including roadmap reviews, User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and API beta testing are becoming common.  There’s a noticeable difference in Cloud ERP apps and suites that have gone through UAT and API beta testing outside of engineering.  Customers find areas where speed and responsiveness can be improved and steps saved in getting workflows done. Beta testing APIs with partners and customers forces them to mature faster and scale further than if they had been tested in isolation, away from the market. FinancialForce in services and IQMS in manufacturing are two ERP providers who are excelling in this area today and their apps and suites show it.
  • New features added to the roadmap are prioritized by revenue potential for customers first with billing, subscriptions, and pricing being the most urgent. Building Cloud ERP apps and suites on a platform free up development time to solve challenging, complex customer problems. Billing, subscriptions, and pricing are the frameworks many services businesses are relying on to start new business models and fine-tune existing ones. Cloud ERP vendors who prioritize these have a clear view of what matters most to prospects and customers.
  • Live and build apps by the mantra “own the process, own the market”. Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) and Quote-to-Cash (QTC) are two selling processes services and manufacturing companies rely on for revenue daily and struggle with. Born-in-the-cloud CPQ and QTC competitors on the Salesforce platform have the fastest moving roadmaps and release cadences of any across the platform’s broad ecosystem. The most innovative Services-focused Cloud ERP providers look to own opportunity-to-revenue with the same depth and expertise as the CPQ and QTC competitors do.
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Five Ways Cloud Service Providers Are Making Manufacturers More Competitive

  • manufacturing-execution-systemsEnterprises are only realizing 35% of the total potential value of their cloud deployments according to a recent Bain & Company study.
  • Companies that moved development to IaaS and PaaS clouds from Amazon Web Services (AWS) reduced downtime by 72% and improved application availability by 3.9 hours per user per year.

These and other key take-aways are from the recent Bain & Company study, Tapping Cloud’s Full Potential. The full report PDF is available for download here (free, no opt-in). The following graphic from the report illustrates the currently realized value of cloud deployments in enterprises today according to Bain & Company.

Capturing only one-third of the value of their workloads

The researchers found several critical drivers of cloud value with one of the most important being the strengthening and clarifying of a product and service focus. The following graphic illustrates the critical drivers of cloud value.

getting the most value

Cloud Service Providers Give Manufacturers The Ability To Stay Competitive

Cloud-first strategies designed to accelerate and strengthen shifts in emerging business models is paying off according to Bain’s research results.

Manufacturers choosing to pursue a cloud-first strategy are focusing on evolving their business models, processes, systems and performance quickly to stay in step with customers’ needs. For many manufacturers, their customers’ pace is faster than internal IT organizations can anticipate and react to.  CSPs are helping to close that gap.

Here are five ways CSPs are making manufacturers more competitive:

  • Bringing industry expertise to the shop floor level. The best CSPs serving manufacturers today have management teams that have decades of combined manufacturing experience in specific industries. The CEO of a specialty tools manufacturer remarked that his company’s cloud strategy was more focused on accelerating plant floor performance first.  Working with a CSP that had expertise in their industry, this manufacturer was able to gain greater supply chain visibility and improve forecast accuracy, all with cloud-based apps.
  • Solving legacy and 3rd party system integration problems so that cloud-based ERP, CRM, supply chain management (SCM) systems can scale quickly. When a rust-belt based manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems had the opportunity to grow their business by expanding into build-to-order customized products, their CSP partner made it possible to integrate an entirely new product configurator and cloud-based ERP system module to manage quote-to-cash. Today, 30% of corporate-wide profits are from build-to-order selling strategies.
  • Knowledge-sharing supplier networks are becoming more attainable for manufacturers thanks to cloud technologies and CSPs. All manufacturers have strategic plans that include greater integration of their supplier networks, with many seeking to create knowledge-sharing networks. One of the best studies of how to create a knowledge-sharing network is from Dr. Jeffrey Dyer and Dr. Kentaro Nobeoka based on their intensive work with Toyota. Their study, Creating And Managing A High Performance Knowledge-Sharing Network: The Toyota Case is a great read. The following graphic from the study illustrates the evolution of a knowledge-sharing network. Manufacturers are relying on cloud platforms and CSPs to enable shifts in network structures and nurture change management to create self-sustaining systems.

Evolution of network

  • Two-tier ERP adoption in manufacturing is growing as CSPs master cloud ERP systems. CSPs are moving beyond providing basic services, specializing in cloud ERP, CRM, SCM, pricing, services and legacy system integration to keep pace with manufacturers’ demands. In one high tech manufacturer, their CSP partner orchestrated the procuring and launch of their cloud-based two-tier ERP system integrated to an SAP instance in their headquarters. Today they operate production centers in Asia, North America and Australia, all coordinated through the main SAP instance in the U.S. headquarters.
  • Making Service Level Agreements (SLAs) more relevant to manufacturing business models. Instead of just getting SLAs for uptime, security and system stability, manufacturers are getting advanced manufacturing intelligence dashboards that provide visibility to the plant or production center level.

Bottom Line:  Manufacturers are increasingly relying on CSPs’ cloud, industry and integration expertise to support the transition many are making to new business models and get greater than 35% of the value from their cloud investments.

Additional resources on Cloud ERP systems:

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