The criticism commonly levelled against enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems is that they are monolithic and generalist software slabs: suites of applications, dense with features and functions, designed to cover just about any need an enterprise might have, with a uniform user interface layered over for a common look and feel. Whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, the ERP has it covered.
For decades now, users of enterprise resource planning software have been trained to believe that all the action must take place within the core of the system. ERP is coded to be the journal of record, the beating heart of the organisation, the inner circle of work and the user’s role is to browse and input.
But I’m here to tell you this approach will soon be ancient history. Why? Because the maturing of a potpourri of technologies including cloud, microservices, smarter user experiences, AI, machine learning and open APIs mean that we’re entering a new period where users will no longer be asked to slog through roundabout processes, complex user interfaces, or logging in and out of systems, none of which work the same ways as the others.
Accountability is critical in business. Professional services companies are held to high standards, and client expectations need to be met. But are the goals being measured for each project telling the true tale of success?
Companies are well-accustomed to setting statistical KPIs on which to judge project delivery. From budget to actual cost, earned value to ROI, they each provide a clear benchmark. However, projects are powered by people – and the impact of team chemistry on project performance is rarely measured.
The ongoing conversation that artificial intelligence (AI) will replace our jobs has caused much concern and speculation. Workers are wondering which skills are replaceable, which will be automated, and what they can do to ensure their skills remain competitive. As an architect working on AI, machine learning and bot technologies, however, the way I see it is this: technology is going to replace tasks, not jobs.
Entrepreneurs have disrupted nearly every industry, developing start-ups that transform the way business is done. Airbnb for example has changed the world of travel forever. Today, this company enjoys a value of more than $31 billion. Lyft comes in at a cool $7.5 billion, after turning the taxi service industry on its head. FinTech firms like Stripe have created mobile payment solutions that are used by leading financial services companies like Visa. Even specialized services such as computer security are dominated by disruptors like Synack.
ERP systems transform, integrate and scale businesses better today than they ever have. It’s the only system that tackles all the processes that are essential to running a business and eliminates those that aren’t. And cloud has made ERP solutions more affordable, and easier to implement and manage.
For almost a decade, we’ve talked about wanting to modernize enterprise software user interfaces (UI) to match consumer software, but we’ve gone about it the wrong way. The modernization of UIwas proposed as a solution to meet the increased expectations that enterprise software should be as simple to use and nice to navigate as the applications we use at home from any device. But investing in software UI that merely looks beautiful is a waste of time and resources.
In the 1980s, the television program Knight Rider gave a glimpse into a world where artificial intelligence could learn, communicate, and make independent decisions. The star of the show, a self-aware computer, was housed in a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am, and it intrigued viewers. They imagined how the technology could change lives, handling dull or dangerous tasks with a simple spoken command. At the time, such software sounded like a creation of science fiction. Now, less than four decades later, artificial intelligence and machine learning technology are our reality, communicating with users through natural language interfaces.
When the average person thinks of bots entering the workforce, scenes from X-Men: Days of Future Pastleap to mind, but actually, bots are not the future, they are already adopted and deployed among us. The reality of bots in day-to-day life is less “dominating Sentinel” and more “helpful and productive assistant.”
A bot is a piece of software that is designed and created to automate the kinds of tasks we would usually do on our own. Powered by a set of simple rules and varying degrees of artificial intelligence (AI), we can now create bots that can hold natural-sounding conversations with human beings with the aim of accomplishing tasks, such as answering questions or enabling product purchases.
It has been a dream of science fiction authors since the advent of computers: hands-free interfaces that can respond to our every whim — without the need to strike a single key.
That future is now closer than ever, with engineers across dozens of industries hard at work designing both computers and mobile devices that can interact through simple conversation. Known as natural language Interfaces (NLI), expectations are that this form of communication will spread from talking programs such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana — and most recently, Samsung’s Bixby — to a multitude of interactive apps and programs in the coming months. And, in many cases, it already has.