Technology shifts periodically occur that change the rules of the game. In the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) market we are experiencing a revolution as four major technology trends - social collaboration, mobile computing, analytics and cloud technologies - converge to transform business applications. ERP systems are moving from being purely transaction processing engines to becoming people-centric applications for organisation-wide collaboration - what we call 'Systems of Engagement'.
ERP has earned itself a bad reputation over the years as representing systems that are designed for the enterprise rather than for the users. What I want to address in this article is the potential of the 'ERP of Things' - a phrase we have coined to describe the next generation of ERP. Already advanced in its development, it is designed to empower, connect and inspire people and 'things' in a way they never thought possible. It makes sense when you think about it - ERP is the only enterprise system that could lay claim to this.
What we need to imagine is a time when we never need to make a choice without having the data to make informed, smart decisions. We'll have confidence and we won't make mistakes. The world will become a more efficient place thanks to the 'Internet of Things', where devices and machines communicate via wireless Internet connections to each other and to us. Imagine a world where heart monitors can adjust themselves according to the patient's needs, where doctors can prescribe medicines quickly and accurately with reference to a complete view of a patient's health. Stores, vending machines and even our own household fridges will never run out of our favourite foods as they can place an order immediately an item is used. The possibilities are endless and exciting.
Even governments see the potential and are investing heavily to get a piece of the action. UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced an increase in investment in 'internet of things' technology (bringing the total being made available to £73 million), stating at CeBIT in Germany:
"I see the internet of things as a huge transformative development - a way of boosting productivity, of keeping us healthier, making transport more efficient, reducing energy needs, tackling climate change," he said.
The Chinese government has previously also announced considerable investment in this area. Gartner predicts there will be nearly 26 billion devices connected to the Internet of things by 2020 and some predictions are almost double that. To capitalise on intelligent devices and the machines that deliver and make the information useful, systems will be required to collect and analyse the huge volumes of data. In the enterprise this will be the role of ERP - the 'ERP of things' - which will connect devices, systems and people to become useful to the organisation. ERP will be the core of all decision making, connecting the thoughts of people, machines, devices and 'things'.
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