CIOs Utilize the Power of ERP

Joey Benadretti, President, SYSPRO USA
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Joey Benadretti, President, SYSPRO USA

The power of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is undeniable as companies continue to leverage the intelligent solutions that align business strategies, goals and values. How do these solutions impact the responsibility of today’s CIO? According to a recent study, the role of the CIO is expanding as they are increasingly being called upon to find new, innovative ways to make technology a reality across the enterprise in order to deliver more efficient operations, drive strategic decision-making, and improve the performance of their supply chains. 

The CIO is being asked to support mission critical functions and to find ways to provide services that integrate operations, innovation, technology, services, and people. It is more than the delivery of information, aka simple data. The intelligent art of gathering and aligning meaningful data empowers the ability to predict and deliver more efficient operations. The relevance comes from understanding past behavior (output), refining the ability to forecast and control the future. The CIO is the linchpin, delivering cost effective solutions that operate synergistically across the enterprise. 

While, according to the study, many CIOs feel that additional investment is needed to integrate IT into strategic business decision making, more are increasingly turning to ERP  solutions to gain deeper insight into operations. The value of ERP has evolved over the past few decades as it allows additional operational areas to extend into the ERP “backbone.” Historical silos of information have begun to integrate seamlessly, making it easier for CIOs to obtain a single source of truth across multiple dimensions. The right ERP solution can integrate information across functions and provide a set of tools to plan and monitor various processes to eliminate the need for the numerous interfaces previously required to link disparate business applications. 

The CIO today is primarily tasked with driving and controlling the informational aspects of the business. This means discovering, organizing and analyzing existing business processes, critical flow hierarchy, including the accumulation of discrete data pertinent to operational specifications. The CIO depends heavily on the comprehensive nature of ERP technology and its availability, whether on-premise or in the cloud, to enable real-time knowledge of key operational indicators for successful integrated production.

  ‚ÄčThe value of ERP has evolved over the past few decades as it allows additional operational areas to extend into the ERP ‘backbone’   

 In today’s global competitive landscape, manufacturers are facing the challenge of leveraging available resources to drive profit to the bottom-line. While many were striving to manage their labor costs by outsourcing to foreign countries, the alignment of currency values and the rapid rise of local labor and transportation costs have all, but eliminated these advantages. In today’s market, the key to success often relies on the ability of an ERP solution to understand and refine supply chains including macroeconomic variables, manage process-to-process, minimize queue-time, while at the same time, reduce costs and maximize distribution opportunities.  

We have seen in the process industry that ERP has evolved to the point where it can accurately predict equipment maintenance and down-time, thereby minimizing risk and increasing safety. These demands have significantly broadened the scope of ERP functionality. Even so, there is much to learn about how ERP solutions can capture the strength of Big Data and connect the Internet of Things (IoT) into critical operations. These newest capabilities include the utilization of a framework, linking large class libraries across disparate processes. 

While the utilization of ‘ERP Big Data’ helps companies identify trends and chart future courses, it is also important to note that industries such as food, pharmaceutical and medical devices among many others, have gained access to ‘hidden data’ to connect and correlate relationships, hierarchies and multiple data linkages to facilitate the recall of products that may contain tainted ingredients or faulty parts that could cause harm or even death. Lot traceability and serial tracking data are excellent examples of how select ERP functionality now accommodates extensive and precise visibility up or down the supply chain, as well as providing specific component to parent tracking to enable manufacturers to expedite recalls, should the need arise. 

Many pundits, of course, feel there is a danger in that CIOs may have become too engrossed in the technological aspects of their ERP implementations causing them to focus inwardly and not outwardly. Additionally, a study reported in the Harvard Business Review notes that half of the CEOs polled felt that their CIOs did not understand the ways that technology can help enable their business. The study stresses that CIOs can better leverage their ERP solution to ensure alignment between the business and the technological aspects of their organizations. This focus should include:  

• A comprehensive business process re-engineering;  
• Employee coaching to view jobs as knowledge-based centers of collaboration;   
• Greater focus on key metrics that drive and extend the business ecosystem. 

ERP solutions have indeed evolved, enabling businesses to reduce risk and cost in a world where alignment and optimization of resources and globally distributed operations are the keys to profitable delivery. 

What can businesses anticipate in the ERP solutions of tomorrow? While mobile access to ERP data has become available,, the use of mobility will be greatly expanded, enabling CIOs to do trusted computing from what was once an ‘untrusted device’. The future will also most likely see the ability to drill down deeper into the data needed to streamline nearly every business process. Machine learning will expand with smarter computing devices, integrating all shop floor equipment back up into the cloud.  

Yes, the role of the CIO is changing, expanding and having a greater impact on the bottom line. The growth in technology has expanded the CIO’s role into business transformation, change management, service delivery and numerous aspects of the supply chain.  

Today, the CIOs no longer just manage IT; CIOs are partners in innovation, challenged with greater responsibilities that include the health and future of the enterprise.

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