ERP as a part of a fascinating ecosystem

October 24, 2019

Latest trends in the ERP-world and their impact on business

Prior to Directions EMEA in Vienna we had the privilege of participating in the Pipol World Partner Conference 2019 for the first time. This amazing community of strong, established and experienced partners with an international outlook, allowed us to discuss and formulate some of the beliefs that have driven Global Mediator’s development for some time.

As an engineering house focused on CFO’s we are fully aware that our views may not be the mainstream views of the larger channel, so we stepped into the discussion with some diplomatic considerations.  In hindsight, we did not need to – so, here it is for public consumption.

Global Mediator at PIPOL World Conference
Pipol World Partner Conference 2019: Digital Transformation Panel Debate

Fashion changes, but style stays the same

Most likely Coco Channel did not think of her quote in terms of general IT, but the realisation is actually the same. The server and thin client-based IT architecture that we had a generation ago was gradually change to a thick client in terms of a PC and now we are back to all data being elsewhere – this time in the cloud.

At the time software has evolved from multiple programmes to monolith applications only to swing back to a cloud-based distributed architecture for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Terms, touch and feel has changed but we are back to the old style of working on a ‘relatively’ thin client with vital data stored elsewhere.

ERP is not a stand-alone application anymore

The direct implication of this transformation to a common user interface protocol in HTML 5 and open data exchange through APIs is that our old trusted Dynamics ERP solution should no longer be seen as the standalone application that we have grown accustomed to over the past 25 years or so. The days when things needed to be in one application are gone.

“The days when things needed to be in one application are gone. Now ERP is a part of a fascinating ecosystem of other apps.”
– Nicolai Krarup, COO at Global Mediator

Instead, ERP is a part of a fascinating ecosystem of other apps. Customers increasingly look for best in class applications to support their business; after all, why should your HR, service or even manufacturing solution be an integrated part of your financial system if you can use the API to exchange data and the common UI platform to create a decent user experience?

Still think of your ERP system as an asset?

We are constantly being told that data is the new gold and it is quite clear that in order to use data we need solid business processes. But that does not necessarily mean that the application that expresses the processes and stores the data is also an asset. In some cases, it may even have become a liability that holds back a business transformation.

“The game has changed. While technical upgrades make sense in some cases and may even be a starting point in others, they need to be seen in a larger context of connectivity and interaction with other systems now.”
– Nicolai Krarup, COO at Global Mediator

The game has changed. While technical upgrades make sense in some cases and may even be a starting point in others, they need to be seen in a larger context of connectivity and interaction with other systems now. And, if your current ERP system prevents you from moving forward on this path, then it might have become the manifestation of a liability that keeps adding to some form of technical debt which needs to be paid in the future.

The sense of a tipping point

Our discussions with the other partners during the visit to Vienna gave us the first feeling that things have changed. Discussions about whether or not to move to the cloud have been replaced by discussions of ‘how’ to move to the cloud and reminiscence about technical details of the past have given way for explorations about how to make the best of the new solutions being promoted in the Microsoft channel.

Global Mediator at Directions EMEA 2019
Directions EMEA 2019 in Vienna: Business Central Roadmap

We felt in our discussions with partners a sense of realisation that the platform is ready for serious business and that business will eventually move to a distributed architecture. The only concern that came forward is from the realisation that everything needs to be re-considered, re-designed and refactored in order to work in the brave new world, which will take some time.

If you always do what you always did…

As Global Mediator we help partners move old Dynamics solution forward to make them current – and with pleasure. However, when we are asked if we can do it as a one to one upgrade from an older solution to Business Central, then we tend to end up having a discussion as to whether the old system is really the best representation of data and processes.

In two decades ERP functionality has expanded, formats have changed, dimensions have changed, best practices have been updated, license structure has changed, the ecosystem of business applications have exploded and completely new solutions have evolved that can better address specific needs – and, in most cases the business that the ERP system supports has transformed. Surely this needs to be considered.

The above-mentioned changes have made us assess upgrades differently. To us at Global Mediator, the convincing business case for upgrading an ERP system emerges if you consider it as a move to a new ecosystem – so, rather than just moving forward, we want to reduce the ERP footprint to the extent possible and use much more standard. What do you do?

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