Virtually all traditional and cloud ERP vendors and cloud solution providers offer API libraries to connect their offerings to other software. If an API is available from the solution provider, then you can find it in an open API repository. “The API economy will be there,” according to Denecken.
Managing APIs from multiple players is a big change for companies that had been used to a single platform. “From a technical system administration and operations perspective, you end up dealing more with making sure that the API structures don’t break, that the data made available in each new release works in ways that are consistent with the past,” says Strout. “You are doing continuous checks on what’s coming out next and making sure that orchestration is not breaking anything upstream or downstream. We believe that is a relatively small price to pay to get at things we’ve wanted to in the past.”
Even with strong APIs, integration presents another challenge in that updates from each cloud service provider work on their own schedule. “You have to do that orchestration.” Strout adds that “15 years ago the conversation was, ‘Do you want totally integrated solution or best of breed?’ With this model you end up with a little bit of everything. Because of the APIs and the way things are constructed, it is an easier orchestration model than it was 15 years ago.”
Integration allows for easier access to data from multiple sources, and that means companies should rethink how they do reporting and analytics within a hybrid ERP system. “We focus on making sure users have a single pane of glass that has data from a number of different systems,” says Strout. “It’s changed the end user experience from that perspective.” He added that because SaaS systems are typically easier to use than traditional ERP user interfaces, end users work faster because they don’t have to key in as much data or spend as much time looking for the right fields.
New technologies that fuel digital transformation such as machine learning, IoT, and cloud analytics are developing rapidly, and planning a hybrid ERP roadmap needs to take them into account. “[Cloud services] frees up IT to do more analysis of data and evaluate new tools like IoT,” says Guay.
Cox agrees. “The cloud changes the nature of the resources required to support a business. An IT team can shift from one that is focused on ‘keeping the lights on’ to one that is an entirely different value-add organization. Those same resources can use things like Oracle Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) to integrate applications and create consistent workflows across multiple systems — both on premise and in the cloud —while also maintaining security and performance.”
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