How social media is changing ERP for the better
Andres Richter, Priority Software
Social media and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are not two things you’d immediately group together, writes Andres Richter, the chief executive of Priority Software.
ERP is essential for any business which wishes to standardise process and create a central location in which data is stored and managed. What could legacy IT have to do with Snapchat and Facebook? More than first appears, thanks to the recent introduction of cloud and mobile functionality into business critical software. While it’s true that ERP’s core functions relate to standardisation in areas such as finance and accounting, the benefits on the social side come into play for improving customer and employee communication.
At around thirty years old, enterprise management software has had no choice but to evolve in response to a changing technology landscape born from reduced budgets, cloud computing, mobility, big data analytics and social engagement. Factors such as the consumerisation of IT together with changes in human behaviour require instant information at our fingertips, wherever we are, from any device.
Therefore the notion of ERP as a traditional, standalone solution, disconnected from the online world in which we engage with each other across channels, is an outdated one. In reality, the social revolution has given us a great opportunity to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate how we engage with dialogue in the business world to streamline workflow and to progress activities in real-time. Tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn help make it easy and actually, quite fun.
Every aspect of your organisation is based on social technologies in some way, and social tools can be effective in the workplace when they’re tied into your ERP software. User-friendly social apps can help improve collaboration and increase productivity inside your organisation and outside your door with your business partners. It’s the next logical step to extracting more reliable and up-to-date information from customers. Social ERP has grown out of a need to finally bring these two seemingly opposing forces together
So what types of tools are out there? ERP software or add-ons with the kind of functionality you’d expect from social media can include a number of applications which boast Facebook-esque interfaces used to give employees access to data. Importing social feeds, encouraging polls (akin to Twitter) provides a seamless experience for employees and customers both inside and outside office hours. This is incredibly important as we see new, sporadic and global business models spring up out of the sharing economy, operating across time zones and continents.
- Business relationships become more personal: Adding a familiar touch to what can be a sterile customer/sales interaction is a great way to get the trust of your customers. Social ERP allows for easily trackable conversations, projects and processes, improves business processes, enhances customer engagement, and builds and maintains your knowledge base.
- Data on customers is shared throughout the supply chain: Real-time access to real-time data – social customer relationship management data can be available, accessible, shareable
What should you do if you’re considering social ERP for your business? As with any IT implementation, you’ll need to clearly define a blueprint to ensure the system reflects the wider goals of the business. It’s also important to identify where the social strengths lie in your company in order to align them with each process. Social ERP will continue to have a positive impact on all of our business operations. As social processes and platforms take over and own the digital domain as we know it, ERP systems which have not embraced ‘social communication’ will have to adapt to survive, with the customer at the heart of every decision and driven by the desire to streamline workflows.