A guide to cloud ERP and how it can help your business
How familiar are you with cloud ERP? Maybe your company runs an on-premise solution. Perhaps you’ve done some research, and even moved some of your operations over to cloud tools. You may know nothing about cloud-based ERP and this is your initial experience. Before we explore cloud ERP in depth, let’s define it.
Cloud enterprise resource planning software, or cloud ERP, is a suite of business applications that accesses business data in real time through an internet connection. Also called a Software as a Service, or SaaS, applications and data are stored on remote servers and don’t require on-site hardware. Businesses save money with cloud ERP through reduced IT support services, a monthly fee instead of an upfront licensing and equipment costs and no upgrade projects. A cloud-based ERP system provides your organization with one location for all business data and tools for financial management, supply chain management, order processing, customer relationship management (CRM), fulfillment, project management, procurement and more.
Outside of the cost savings and tools, cloud ERP software offers significant benefits. With features like mobile platforms and Internet of Things (IoT), cloud-based software is leading the way with innovation.
Cloud ERP software vendors are mastering business processes of the future by integrating tools that are intuitive and focus on reducing manual tasks. Some key benefits include:
- Automation: ERP software not only provides one source of business information for your business, it also aids in streamlining processes. An aspect of that is automating manual tasks to save you time and allow you to perform jobs that require more human involvement. Tools like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can not only analyze information and forecast trends but can also learn rules and exceptions for specific processes.
- Collaboration: Cloud ERP is built for collaboration. Users can access business information remotely and work with colleagues through cloud ERP software using internal communication features. Additionally, sharing data between departments can be as simple as granting permissions for access.
- Better insight: Business information tools are embedded in cloud applications, providing context to the real-time access to data. Additionally, modern user experience (UX) presents information in an organized, consumable manner through tools such as dashboards, infotiles and infolets.
- Continuous updates and new functionality: Cloud software doesn’t require upgrade projects in order to take advantage of new tools or improved security. Software updates and new functionality are deployed automatically following their release, meaning all customers are running the same version of the software at any given time.
- High availability: Cloud ERP systems have low downtime. In fact, Oracle guarantees 99.5 percent availability and averages 99.96 percent uptime. This reduces the workload of your internal IT team and promises near-continuous access to your business data.
Cloud ERP security
Business leaders trust cloud software for its security. Public cloud servers such as Oracle protect data using the latest in security features. Their very business depends on how well they can safeguard business information. Oracle is no different – cloud servers are maintained using an integrated, multi-layer security system in order to keep intruders out but permit access to those with the proper credentials.
Whether you store data on a public, private or hybrid cloud, there are measures you can take to maintaining security. Four best practices that Oracle focuses on for data protection are to:
- Segment responsibilities
- Secure your system
- Have a plan
However, no (fire)walls are impenetrable. Should there be any sort of breach that leads to issues such as data loss, having a plan to patch the hole and improve protections is necessary to help prevent a repeat. This is one area where cloud-based ERP software shines – cloud vendors are able to deploy the latest security updates when available to all customers.
Cloud ERP doesn’t have the monopoly on using creative tools to help users improve their business processes, but it’s certainly at the forefront of innovation. Software vendors continue to improve their products in order to integrate the newest technology. Some of that innovation is found within core functionality of cloud software, such as user experience (UX) aspects like drag-and-drop customization or social media integration. However, other advances have become vital tools.
More employees than ever are working remotely. For many, you no longer need to be in the office to do your job. Whether it’s during your commute, as you travel or from your home office, applications that are accessible from mobile devices make your business data available from anywhere.
Mobile functionality also enables better collaboration between the shop floor and the front office. Workers on the floor have real-time access to data. This allows you to identify potential problems earlier, while making supply chain management, logistics and inventory management more accurate and efficient.
AI and machine learning
While artificial intelligence and machine learning seem to be buzzwords lately, their impact on cloud ERP is anything but. Agility is a positive aspect for cloud-based software in order for companies to adapt to ever-changing business conditions. To be successful, you have to constantly be learning, and that extends to your ERP. AI and machine learning help you with that.
Digital assistants and chatbots are AI-powered and use natural language processing and understanding to streamline interactions and commands. They respond instantly and interact similar to a human. Digital assistants can be used to quickly locate information within your ERP system, complete manual tasks and automate repetitive functions. Additionally, machine learning is used by creating algorithms that identify patterns and complete tasks based on “learned” data.
Another buzzword with big impact, blockchain in ERP is a form of data sharing that increases security by breaking data up into blocks and chaining it together – hence the name. Within a blockchain system, fraud and data tampering is eliminated because while data can be shared with a group of participants, it can’t be altered without alerting all members of the group.
Blockchain comes with numerous benefits outside of its increased security. Siloed data can be shared confidently with one system, enhancing collaboration and enables tracking. Due to its reliability and evidence of any tampering, trust is established between the blockchain’s participants. Additionally, this ensures the authenticity of information within the chain and the integrity of products produced as a result.
Continuous research and development
As technology evolves, so does what we know about it. Cloud-based ERP solutions are not exempt from this. Advanced capabilities are only as useful as what they can be used to accomplish – meaning cloud vendors are constantly researching improved uses for their cutting-edge technology. Oracle updates its cloud every 90 days to implement the latest capabilities for its customers.
Cloud-based ERP of all sizes
Oracle ERP solutions exist for any business, regardless of their size. Its cloud products – Oracle ERP Cloud and NetSuite – are scalable and flexible to work for you.
- Oracle ERP Cloud: This solution’s complete suite of applications runs completely in the cloud and is scalable for a mid-sized business to continue its growth, or a large enterprise to confidently manage complex and high-volume business processes. Integrated with a multilayer approach for data security, Oracle ERP Cloud protects your data regardless of whether you use a public, private or hybrid cloud.
- NetSuite: While used commonly by small- to mid-sized and fast-growing businesses, NetSuite is a full-service solution that is affordable but can scale with you as you expand for the long term. Seeing signs of outgrowing Quickbooks? NetSuite offers robust applications that allow you to run your business entirely through this “true cloud” solution. Built-in business intelligence combines visibility with insight, allowing you to make informed decisions.
Why Oracle cloud ERP?
There are numerous cloud ERP solutions on the market. So why choose Oracle cloud ERP?
- Agile: As we discussed above, Oracle’s cloud solutions provide agility in order to operate strategically. Business is always changing, and organizations must act quickly. This extends to your ERP solution. Cloud solutions are inherently more collaborative due to their accessibility. This collaborative nature aids in removing data from silos and helps to ensure all are on the same page – vital in terms of responding to changing conditions quickly and intelligently.
- Accessible: The Oracle cloud platform is easily accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. However, Oracle also guarantees its cloud infrastructure to have an average 95% availability. This service commitment is financially backed, meaning should Oracle be unable to maintain their guarantee, you can apply for service credits to compensate for the downtime.
- Scalable: Oracle cloud, whether you consider ERP Cloud or NetSuite, can be your organization’s long-term business solution. Scalability is crucial – as you grow, your data processing load increases. Oracle cloud solutions provide you with the ability to adapt to changing conditions and workload. In the future, should your business operations expand or transform, adding ERP applications and functionality to accommodate those changes is commonly uncomplicated and inexpensive.