Finding Solutions to ERP Systems that Stall Innovation and Growth

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Is your ERP Stalling Innovation and Growth?

Not so long ago, corporations became fed up with the constraints imposed by their billing and customer relationship management systems. They began to pin their hopes for flexibility and cost-effective operations on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. After all, if ERP systems can help manage suppliers, logistics and cost allocation, and even General Ledger support; why couldn’t they handle things like monetization, rating, and customer account structures?

Declaring our bias right up front as experts in billing, we looked at the software available to see what was and was not going right. With 20/20 hindsight, we quickly saw that the expert systems which focused on doing one thing well were beating the generalist systems that have become ever-more generic over time. Of course, we understand the temptation to just ditch a purpose-defined billing system, considering that since many of the supposedly purpose-built billing systems are too constrained and limited for modern business. That’s why we’ve decided to approach the whole thing from a new angle.

Innovating Our Approach to ERP

What if, instead of poor billing systems and too-general ERP systems, you could have an efficient and effective combination? As experts in configuring and deploying the world’s most powerful and flexible billing software and in integrating efficiently into complex IT environments too, we know that you can expect an IT support environment that actually supports your business.

Is your business being held back by a legacy ERP solution? Is facing the daunting high-risk challenge of yet another upgrade or system replacement just not viable for consideration? We’re here to set out a solution that may resolve the issues, at a pragmatic cost, and with low risk. Impossible? Not at all, as our customers will attest.

In our next article, we’ll dive deeper into how to create a highly functional, flexible support environment, and in the meantime, here’s a look back at how we got to today’s constrained ERP-driven world. (And for those of you who would prefer to skip to a future you really want, please get in touch.)

What Modern Businesses Need from ERP

Enterprises of all sizes are grappling with multiple pressures points:

  • Scaling
  • Flexibility
  • Cost reduction
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Regional requirements
  • 360-degree visibility into the business
  • Agility and efficiency in the selling, contracting, and revenue management process

The Rise of ERP Systems

In the late 1990s, when ERP systems first came on the scene, there was plenty of drama and hype. The market seemed ripe for software that could integrate planning and vendor management with logistics and finance. Vendor marketing bravado and cut-throat competition were quickly followed by failed multi-million-dollar projects, implementations spanning years, and massive cost overruns that were still fresh in the minds of many.

Who can forget the legendary “moon” on the high seas between SAP’s Hasso Plattner and Larry Ellison’s Oracle boat? The infamous rivalry and competition between Oracle and SAP continued into this century with a battleground that now spans ERP and also databases.

In the late 2000s, however, the focus shifted to social media startups focused on consumers and to cloud companies focused on Internet merchants. Many of the best minds of the generation (and lots of VC dollars) shifted away from ERP evolution and instead prioritized software that would entice people to click ads. The lack of real innovation in ERP software began to impact larger corporations by 2008, and then the financial crisis hit, making it harder for every company to remain profitable.

ERP and The Cloud

Post-2008, the solution seemed to be The Cloud. The trend became to ditch high on-site costs and dedicated IT staff by moving these mega systems fully online where data can be accessed everywhere and backups are system-independent. Moving to The Cloud leaves the heavy lifting to specialist IT companies who have invested $Billions in data centers, global networks, and revising software packages to function in a multi-tenant universe.

Transitioning to The Cloud began to accelerate, with even the largest corporations with the highest security needs making the shift. These companies tell us that they were aware that moving to common platforms and multi-tenant processing environments meant that they no longer could specify unique features and functionality but were willing to accept that.

The wisdom of crowds would provide solutions that were good enough. And all of that makes good business sense. What began to be clear, however, is that competitive differentiation is gained by those unique capabilities:

  • Special relationships with partners;
  • One-off pricing plans for global customers;
  • Discounts based on Quarterly and Annual purchases

This benefit is gained by groups of companies spanning many accounts, currencies, and languages, as just some examples of the differences between Monetization and ERP.

But perhaps the biggest difference is the one created by the major shift in business offerings: “Everything As A Service.” (XaaS). Subscription and Consumption-based offerings do not conform to the legacy definitions of products, and hardly resemble the legacy services, either.

Create the Flexibility

You need time to move ERP systems back to what they do very well, and add the systems designed to deliver real differentiation through flexible, fast, and low-cost monetization capabilities. Whether you prefer Cloud, or in-house, or a hybrid, adding an adjunct monetization system is a pragmatic, viable solution when the software is designed specifically to seamlessly interface with complex business system environments.

In the new era of innovation, the ability to experiment and quickly launch more varied and nuanced business models and new approaches to pricing and billing are essential to enabling innovation. Without the ability to change your internal process, your company can’t grow. You cannot constrain the business to conform to the limitations and ways of working defined in the ERP and billing systems. In part two of this series, we’ll explore how to bring together a single source of truth for data across the enterprise with the need to efficiently interact with customers, partners and internal organizations through a customer engagement model. For more ERP insights, follow us on Twitter, contact our team, and stay tuned for the next article.

We look forward to seeing you again or hearing from your business.

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