I am lately back in demo-mode. My primary job function right now is to watch what the food industry needs in terms of computer technology and present to them a solution that improves the bottom line of their business. Sometimes people criticize me for what I would call a holistic approach to ERP in the food industry.
I have been working with business applications independent of fashionable acronyms like “ERP”, or “SCM” for the past 20+ years. When I started working with ERP, we still had a lot of DOS based PC’s running, Windows was emerging with its versions 3.0 and 3.1 and networking, if used at all, was largely limited to local area networks. Nobody talked about the internet, nobody talked about automation between businesses. Business Applications at that time were focused on internal cost savings potentials.
Integration between different software systems was a difficult task, sometimes even cost prohibitive. This drove the development of highly integrated suites of software, whether these are generic applications for a wide range of industries, such as SAP, Oracle or Microsoft, or more specific applications for certain industries such as CSB-System and others.
With the emergence of the Internet, we saw an entirely new set of applications emerging. We saw email, we browsed and searched for business information and we started engaging with mobile devices in our plants and in our pockets.
We cannot look at our systems anymore in an isolated way. One of the primary forces of innovation these days is interoperability. System’s just cannot do it all anymore, and looking at the average knowledge worker today in the office, we see that they spend perhaps a large portion of their time in their core Business Application (ERP), but an even bigger share with supplemental applications, whether these are internet browsers, email clients or office productivity suites like MS-Office. There is a range of applications we need today to manage data creating information.
Since there are so many applications and so many more things we like to do with still the same amount of time we have to get them done, we seek more efficient ways of doing these tasks. We are seeking business applications that can dial phone numbers using Skype or any other Voice-over-ip-provider, we are seeking software that can show me detailed maps on Google with the hotel and restaurant options I have when booking and appointment with a client. We seek software that seamlessly integrates with my personal organizer, whether that is Outlook or Act! And we expect that we can do the most necessary work in our computer systems on our smart phones.
A holistic approach to ERP takes all this into account. It is no longer an isolated set of functions that we execute in a silo and switch during the day from one silo to the next. That was the case under DOS. Today we work parallel with different information systems, one feeding of the other. We are in an age, where interoperability is replacing integration and digital convergence becoming a major factor of our productivity. So when I look at the product I am presenting, I don’t think just about what the product does, it is about what the world for my clients will look like when they have my product in place.