As one of the key technology trends these days, Mobility is arguably moving at the fastest pace even in the developing world and it is predicted by almost all leading analyst firms across the globe that it will be very difficult for any application to survive if they are not available in Mobile Devices by 2016-17. This puts our old war horse ERP into danger of extinction. Though, it seems very difficult to replace ERP with smaller mobile friendly applications but it will put immense pressure on this bulky application that needs large compute, memory and bandwidth.
Though the two bigger players in ERP space have started taking steps in moving at least the analytics product around their ERP, to mobile devices but they are still sluggish in developing a mobile device friendly ERP product. I have observed that users are now more mobile than ever and they do not want to keep sticking to their seats or cubicals to make transactions but want the applications to be available on the tablets or even better if on mobile phones. This enables them save their time and increases their productivity. With WiFi becoming a norm even on shop-floors, there is no reason that the users will not want this natural extension to ease pressure on them.
Yes, some of the transactions will need the user to be in the manufacturing facility or office building such as receiving material at gate where user has to be present at the gate for proper entry but with geo-fencing coming in, these situations can also be handled very well. Infact, there are a lot of other benefits if an ERP becomes available on Mobile Devices but I would not go into that discussion in this post.
Due to the slow response from the ERP product vendors on making the product available on Mobile Devices, a lot of mobile application organizations have mushroomed who are helping the organizations to bring critical functions as an app on mobile which will talk to the ERP and will act as an extension to your ERP. Believe me, the ERP product heavyweights are losing heavily on licenses because of this – which is another reason for them to do something about it fast. Manufacturing activities like production booking, confirming raw material consumption or procurement related activities like material receipt at gate, inspection etc. can be easily done in mobile apps which will feed the data back to the ERP backbone so that single source of truth remains in system. Similarly, organizations especially in services sector have started extending applications on mobile for their customers as well as suppliers and have created a nice bridge between these complimenting entities and the entire data flows back and forth from ERP making it a one simple application for all entities involved. The ERP vendors are on the losing side here too.
One of the major IT advisory consultants have already predicted that ERPs will become legacy by 2016 and with the onslaught of mobility into the entire game, this seems to be getting more and more difficult for the ERP product vendors to remain ahead in their field. I would not be surprised if we see a completely android or iOS based mobile ERP that works using 3G or WiFi (when available), is hosted on cloud and needs very little compute, in near future. Let us brace ourselves for exciting things happening in Mobility.