“The enterprise resource planning era is over,” declares Duncan Jones, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester. “The ERP model of a single integrated suite to handle every process for every division within the enterprise did not work.”
This is a bold claim. And indeed, organizations are struggling to bring data out the silos in which it resides. They are realizing that the rigidity of their traditional ERP systems is not going to support their digital transformation efforts.
As a core system and central repository, ERPs may still have a place in your technology stack, but if you’re looking to reengineer your processes and take a more agile approach, then you need a different solution.
Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) platforms hold the answer. They enable processes to be defined from the outside in and allow you to take advantage of your systems already in place but in an agile way. This means you can redefine the customer experience and put the end-user first.
Putting the customer at the center of your operations
According to Bizagi’s research, 70% of organizations are focusing on delivering better customer experiences. This means moving away from traditional core applications and instead focusing on customer journeys. However, customer experience and, increasingly workforce experience, requires seamless and efficient journeys through an organization’s systems.
This is easier said than done. There is a huge disparity between organizations’ digital goals – to become an agile, efficient, customer-centric organization – and the ability of its systems to deliver.
The low-code and no-code platforms that have emerged with the age of digital transformation are key enablers in refocusing around the customer journey. Organizations need a way to orchestrate all their data sources for complete transparency. This helps to focus on the customer by providing an end-to-end view of their journey and enables organizations to change business models in line with customer needs.
This joined-up view of your customer is crucial to improving customer experience. Your content needs to be relevant, and your responses instant. The customer-centric capability attained from a more agile digital platform will help consolidate the information that you need to understand every customer’s context and provide the right service at the right time.
“ERP systems aim at providing data and functions to deliver products and services more efficiently to customers,” says technology consulting company Fingent. “On the other hand, digital transformation [systems] enhance the way products and services are delivered to customers [and] even changes the products delivered to customers.”
Take an agile approach
Some organizations have been trying to force all their digital initiatives onto one large, homogenized platform, like the rigid ERPs that so many have come to rely on in recent years. Now they are looking at the development of discrete applications to deliver automation across the enterprise and throughout the customer journey.
This is possible with agile methodologies, deployed by teams combining both business unit experts and technology specialists. Indeed, it is often the only way to rapidly deliver new products and services and the applications to support them.
The benefits are clear. This approach can free up the central IT team to focus on strategic projects and give line of business professionals the control they need. It prevents IT from being a bottleneck in the development process and means they can turn their attention to other areas of the business. Instead, responsibility for new developments is spread across the enterprise, mobilizing change management to help accelerate time-to-market and reap the benefits of boosting your revenue and keeping ahead of your competitors.
As Fingent nicely summarizes, “While ERP implementation focused on achieving greater efficiency with an enterprise’s existing business model, digital transformation [systems] disrupts or changes the existing business model.”
But bear in mind, digital transformation is a continuous process, not a one-off program. It is no good deploying transformation technologies that replace one set of data siloes, systems and suppliers with another. To do so is simply to replace one set of fetters on your organization’s business agility
One platform, every process
Forrester’s SaaS Transformation Playbook reports that two-thirds of software decision-makers in enterprises plan to replace or complement ERP software with software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications or have already done so.
Bizagi’s research found that 74% of organizations want to make better use of their legacy systems, rather than discarding them completely. There’s no need to rip and your legacy ERP. You can wrap it in a more agile process management platform to connect silos of information and unite your IT and business departments so that everyone can collaborate.
Gustavo Gomez, CEO and Founder at Bizagi, says, “We live in a world where business processes must be able to dynamically orchestrate people, context, applications, devices, and information. That can only be done on a flexible program that overcomes, not exacerbates, differences between technology and business teams.
“Our technology is about building a common platform to enable collaboration between business and IT that delivers rapid return on investment, and which offers a foundation for the long-term construction of the digital enterprise.”
For a platform to be a real springboard for business transformation it must deliver process automation, enhance business and IT collaboration and enable agile and iterative working. That means a platform that does not limit you to one supplier’s walled garden of systems and data or a preferred selection of systems. It has to leverage your existing systems while you rationalize your software estate and deliver ubiquitous technology integrations as you deploy new systems to continuously develop new products and services at your own pace.
If you would like to find out more about how to drive real business outcomes in your organization, download IDG’s and Bizagi’s report, ‘Intelligent Process Automation: A Springboard to Profitable Digital Transformation.’