Many companies are considering how to modernise the systems and processes supporting their core functions. One of the key issues is choosing the right solution. Here, Sofigate’s Eero Noroviita will tell about the six advantages modern business platforms have compared to traditional solutions.
What issues should business leaders be aware of when planning an ERP renewal? Why utilise a world-class business platform instead of a traditional solution?
Business platforms are cloud-based global software services. The core business of a company in the digital age can be based on the extensive functionalities as well as ready-made processes and dashboards of these platforms.
The popularity of business platforms is growing rapidly. Leading cloud-based ERP systems such as Oracle NetSuite, SAP Business ByDesign or Microsoft Dynamics 365 are on the shortlist for most companies planning an ERP renewal.
I see six main reasons for their popularity:
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1. Business Platforms are quick to deploy
The basic implementation of a business platform is fast. It is an integrated solution covering multiple business functions. The fast deployment is achieved through utilising optimally processes based on best practises that are suitable for the majority of users.
You can flexibly deploy only those functions and processes you need from the platform and then expand later. For example, many companies have recently begun to deploy digital sales channels, which are also a part of many business platforms.
2. Simpler to plan
The technical environment of a ready-made cloud service does not need to be separately planned, acquired, and optimised. As such, the solution can be used regardless of location and time – usually via browser or a smart device.
Using a business platform is flexible, as the service scales to the changing needs of the company. Whether it is expanding into new markets, corporate reorganisation, or the need to renew the ERP, the time from the decision to the solution can be kept short.
3. Up-to-date information
Once entered into the system, information is available throughout the solution, allowing the real-time information to be displayed between different functions. All data in the system can be analysed, combined, and consolidated from different perspectives so that operations are always led by up-to-date, consistent information.
The best aspects of the platform are faster and unified processes, and up-to-date situational picture of the business, and data analysis with possibility to drill down.
4. A business platform is a safe investment
Business platforms have hundreds of thousands of users, ensuring that the platform works as planned and is constantly evolving. Unlike traditional solutions, there are no different customer-specific versions of the platform service. The entire customer base has the same basic version in accordance with the published release schedule, which makes the service cost-effective.
There is no need to worry about the maintenance and costs of the underlying technical platform, as the service provider is responsible for it. In addition, the cost allocated to a large number of customers has been optimised by utilising economies of scale.
5. A global business platform develops constantly
Technology giants are spending billions on research and development, enabling the operational capabilities of the business platforms to be constantly updated. So, the platform you use can take advantage of the latest technology on the market, whether it’s for data security or the application of artificial intelligence.
The new functionalities will automatically become available to all customers. Your company will get the most out of the business platform when you adopt a model of continuous development: evaluating the usefulness of the platform’s new capabilities and deciding on the functionalities to be implemented next.
6. You can expand easily
Business platforms are easily expanded: the ecosystem associated with the platform is constantly developing add-ons and industry extensions. For example, for an industrial company, such an expansion could be implementing an advanced production scheduling.
In addition, you can develop the functionality your own company needs in a dedicated development environment. When used correctly, you can make sure your changes are compatible with the new releases of the platform. Although the wish list usually grows, you should limit your changes to what is really necessary. It is important to remember that the functionality of the platform develops with each release.
Each country has its own special requirements. In the Finnish environment, the platforms will be supplemented for example with functions related to banking connections and e-invoices. The platforms’ global partner networks help with the country-specific needs.
Due to the rich ecosystem, the customer of the business platform is never tied to a single service provider.
Question the traditional selection process of a business platform
Traditionally, a huge amount of time and resources have been spent on defining requirements and choosing the solution that best suits your organisation. But when choosing a modern business platform, keep in mind that this approach no longer serves its purpose. Nowadays, the needs and goals of an organisation can evolve with such pace that detailed requirements determined two years ago may no longer be relevant at the time of production roll out.
A better option is to focus on designing and describing the core competencies that your organisation needs to succeed. Based on these capabilities, you should choose a business platform that best supports your day-to-day operations and serves as a basis for continuous development.
This paper is part of a series for business leaders in which we present four important cornerstones of ERP renewal. In this story, we addressed cornerstone number 2, “Utilise a world-class business platform”. Other parts can be found here:
- Opening section: Four cornerstones of a successful ERP renewal project
- Cornerstone 1: Businesses must own the renewal project
- Cornerstone 2: Utilise a world-class business platform
- Cornerstone 3: Divide the renewal project into motivating and easy-to-manage sprints
- Cornerstone 4: Continuous development guarantees the full benefit of the investment
About the author
Eero Noroviita is responsible for the Business Core Renewal unit at Sofigate. The unit’s goal is to accelerate the development and renewal of medium-sized and growth companies through cloud-based business solutions. Eero’s extensive experience with corporate restructuring projects has reinforced his view of the key role of business leaders’ activity and the opportunities created by technology in a successful ERP renewal.