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Asked and answered: Seven key questions on mobile enterprise resource planning (ERP)
Viesturs Zalaiskalns, Channel Manager at HansaWorld South Africa, answers seven questions commonly asked by businesses on mobile ERP.
Why is it a must for mid-sized businesses to have access to business information via mobile devices?
The business world today is very different to the one of as little as three years back. With the availability of smart devices, the office is no longer necessarily the only place employees can deliver results. Also, most of your managerial staff members already own a smart device; it is therefore cost-efficient to implement ERP systems that run on the biggest mobile platforms.
What are the challenges faced by these businesses in mobilising their ERP systems?
Few ERP vendors can confidently say that their mobile apps will satisfy the needs of their customers. Most will only provide mobile reporting functionality, rather than the ability to input or manipulate data. That’s no longer an adequate response to market needs; people expect to be able to do things with their mobile devices and not just read information.
What should they do to mitigate these challenges?
If you’re looking to mobilise ERP, select a vendor that can demonstrate how the basic workflows, such as Order Processing or Purchasing Approvals, can be executed on mobile devices. If the vendor is unable to make that simple demonstration, don’t expect it to be able to deliver on more complex workflows in the coming months or even years.
How secure are mobile ERP systems and what should business do to be secure?
Mobile ERP solutions are no more or less secure than traditionally deployed ones. It isn’t easy to publish apps on the Google Play and, particularly, the Apple App Stores. The level of scrutiny that Google and Apple have in place already guarantees a high level of security. Consider hosting your ERP database at a leading data centre, as these have systems and routines in place to guarantee data security.
In your opinion, are South African organisations making adequate investments in mobile ERP systems?
Mobile ERP isn’t top of mind for local decision makers, although it should be. Granted, there are challenges with South African IT infrastructure that have nothing to do with SA organisations committing investments to mobile ERP systems; however, when selecting an ERP system, the availability of mobility is an important consideration for future-proofing. As infrastructure improves, the necessity for ERP accessible anywhere will grow.
What are the main challenges facing organisations making use of the technologies and how can they overcome them?
Adoption of new technologies is probably the biggest challenge organisations face. Prepare your staff with regards to the new possibilities; most will appreciate the opportunity to work remotely one day, as ERP solutions that can deliver mobility are already available today.
Does investment in this system guarantee ROI?
Absolutely. As long as you select an ERP vendor with a good implementation track record, ROI can range from 20-50% depending on the type of business you are in and the level of automation in place prior to ERP implementation.