In the dynamic business world, thriving and keeping up with tough competition calls for deployment of measures and strategies that provide a competitive edge to an entity over its rivals. Measures that promote real time access to crucial data, monitoring of business processes and swift decision making. To this effect, companies are leveraging technological advancement to enhance their efficiency through mobile enterprise resource planning [ERP] systems.
While ERPs are not a new concept to businesses, how they have evolved over the years is quite remarkable. The advancement from in-house ERP to now mobile ERPs is giving businesses a new frontier for enhancing efficiency by enabling mobility of enterprise applications.
Businesses had for the longest time been reliant on location fixed desktops till the late 2000s, which greatly restricted mobility. But thanks to technological advancement, smartphones have simplified the way of conducting business. Many companies have since shifted from these desktops to smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart watches, and even smart glasses.
In 2023, there are 6.92 billion smartphone users in a planet of 8 billion people, which translates to 85.88% of the world’s population owning a smartphone, according to the latest survey by BankMyCell. Of these, 5.19 billion are internet users according to DataReportal.
With the rate of internet penetration rising across the globe, smartphones and mobile internet becoming more affordable, every business has the smartphone user in mind when creating new products. Every company is creating a mobile app for the products or services it offers, creating an explosion of mobile apps on Google Play Store and App Store since 2011.
Mobile ERPs are fundamentally built for smartphone use, with one of their definitive aspects being their enhanced accessibility and convenience. These applications use cloud-based technology, allowing them to be accessed remotely from anywhere. With such apps, you have access to your organization’s ERP system at your palm, whether you’re a junior employee or a senior manager.
With mobile ERPs, companies can monitor their procurement, inventory and supply logistics with a simple mobile device. This way, business processes are streamlined, therefore, simplifying the day-to-day operations which in turn, enhances efficiency. Accessibility not only improves business productivity but also boosts customer satisfaction through scaling down the response time.
Additionally, the mobile applications can collect and feed data to a company’s ERP system from various endpoints. This enables enterprise applications to store and exchange data swiftly, solving the complexity of manual redundant data recording. With this feature, businesses can bypass the monotonous and time-consuming traditional data exchange approaches within an entity.
Traditionally, one would require to physically move from one department to another when seeking certain information. But thanks to mobile ERPs, this data can easily be accessed and exchanged. “The market is therefore seeing an evolution of point-to-point systems talking to one another, rapidly improving the effective execution of business processes for those that have adopted it,” notes Paulo De Matos, Chief Product Officer at SYSPRO.
Mobile ERPs also enable data synchronization. Businesses often have several departments, with each housing a considerable amount of data. Mobile ERPs have the inherent ability to harmonize and synchronize data from the various departments and provide real-time notifications, enabling departmental heads to receive, track, and execute work orders. Moreover, with synchronized data, large entities can coordinate and collaborate with their subsidiaries managers to fast-track business processes.
By integrating the mobile applications with other ERP applications of an entity, data can be synchronized, providing a seamless and real-time information flow.
What about data integrity? By design, these applications are selective and can sieve unwanted data from entering the company’s ERP system, therefore ensuring quality of data stored in them. With quality data, companies can make improved and informed decisions.
While various industries have their own unique attributes, adopting an industry dedicated software proves to be invaluable. Mobile ERPs have enabled industry-specific solutions, rather than the generic one-size-fit-all solutions that have been in existence. With customized industry specific features, mobile ERPs are well positioned to drive businesses to high efficiency by offering tailored solutions.
Another benefit of mobile ERPs is business agility. With these systems, businesses are able to simplify monotonous tasks and speed up processes. Companies can become more proactive and establish stronger ties with customers and vendors through streamlined supply chains.
Stationed employees and field workers can easily and readily create access and share business information with other users within the system. They are able to access crucial information on the go, helping them respond swiftly to customers. With remote access to centralized information, employees are better placed and equipped to address customer challenges and concerns, thus improving customer satisfaction.
Despite the enormous benefits presented by mobile ERPs driving businesses to efficiency, companies need a robust data security strategy. As cyber-attacks via mobile platforms keep soaring this year, every user of a mobile ERP needs to be proactive in thwarting attacks, and that involves the installation of cyber defense software on smartphones, tablets and laptops that run ERP systems.
If ignored, cyber hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in your ERP system and demand millions of dollars in ransom. “I think the best protection at this stage is to get a cloud hosted solution because these hackers are just so clever and they find new ways every day. Get a reputable hosting partner that can host with more cyber security solutions,” says Marius Wessels, the professional services manager at SYSPRO Africa.
JP van Loggerenberg, the Chief Technology Officer at SYSPRO notes that ERPs house crucial data that needs to be highly guarded. “ERP systems contain sensitive information ranging from supplier information on the creditor side and customer information on the debtor side. From a compliance perspective, this information needs to be carefully protected”.
Majority of the mobile ERPs do not have sophisticated security features to thwart coordinated cyber-attacks. However, businesses can self-protect from possible cyber-attacks through such practices as periodic software updates, reassessing access rights to eliminate unauthorized and unnecessary access, and adopting a multi-factor authentication approach that increases security layers to the system, as pointed out by Loggerenberg.