Recent advances in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning have shown great potential for improving and transforming ERP systems—but they’ve raised some important questions too.
How do you justify your investment in AI, what are the potential risks, and how do you prepare your business for AI?
The business value of AI-powered ERP
For years ERP software has been used to support business efficiency and financial management, and now Artificial Intelligence is set to transform ERP.
Companies that successfully and quickly adopt this new technology will reap significant business benefits and win competitive advantage.
AI provides deeper insights and supports better decision making
AI can analyse larger datasets quicker than any human.
It can also read vast amounts of historical data and pick up on patterns and correlations that aren’t obvious to the human eye. With this advantage, you can make better-informed decisions based on more accurate forecasts and solid data.
AI enables automation of routine processes
Manually entering data into ERP systems is time-consuming and potentially error-prone.
AI can perform this task according to the same set of rules as a human does, but more quickly and efficiently. By giving this task to AI, you can avoid costly errors and free people up for more value-adding tasks.
AI improves workflow
AI can analyse historical data and established workflow to improve performance. Besides reducing costs and improving operational efficiency, this will lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction.
As an example, Artificial Intelligence is well suited for service scheduling, which is often time-consuming, tedious, and inefficient. Many factors affect scheduling a repair, including travel time, work duration, incorrect or missing parts and even weather conditions.
AI-powered scheduling can accurately estimate travel time and optimise the technician’s route by considering weather and traffic conditions, while ensuring that the required parts and skills are available. Also, it can flag customers that are a higher risk for cancellation or delay, and plan accordingly.
AI enhances the customer (CX) and user (UX) experience
AI can make intelligent decisions to personalise anyone’s user interface with the ERP system.
By analysing data on user interaction history, AI can make it quicker and easier for them to find what they are looking for. Also, with AI driving your user interfaces, your users and customers no longer need training to use sophisticated technology: they will simply talk to, gesture at, or touch the AI that controls it.
Ease of use will drive greater adoption of complicated systems and enable you to introduce more partners into your business ecosystem quickly, and so accelerate the ROI of your business systems.
AI also raises real concerns and risks
Like most new technologies, AI also has its fair share of critics. Their concerns focus on 3 core issues:
Will AI take jobs away from people?
In contrast to some claims about AI’s potential impact on jobs, many business leaders now believe that AI will actually drive employment and job creation, rather than reduce it. For example, Google employs 70000 people whose jobs are made easier and richer through the extensive use of AI.
Does AI bring new risks to business?
Because of its power, AI raises the risk of “unintended consequences” to higher levels than those made possible with human-powered activities. An example of this is the automated selling of shares triggered by an “event”, which has led to the loss of billions of dollars in accidental trades.
Companies embarking on an AI journey need to consider the fact that AI can process and act on information very, very quickly and design their systems accordingly.
Does AI take away the human touch?
AI’s decision-making is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and less binary (e.g. “true/false only”). If we look locally, Merlynn Intelligence Technologies Corporation ‘Merlynn’ is an Artificial Intelligence technology business that focusses on solutions within risk management.
For Merlynn, reducing risk is about removing uncertainty and they do this by leveraging the power of AI. For organizations to prosper they need to make better decisions at all levels and better decisions are informed by better predictions, however predictions lack the insight of human expertise. What if we could combine predictions with expert knowledge? This raises the potential of AI-powered ERP to new heights and provides exciting opportunities.
Preparing for AI in ERP
Here are some suggestions to start the process of AI implementation in your organisation:
- Get your data under control. Data drives AI, but poor data quality can harm your AI efforts.
- Ensure that your ERP system is AI-ready or prepare a business case to upgrade. Many legacy ERP systems won’t make the transition to AI because of their outdated architectures.
Building a business case for ERP migration will expose potential benefits such as future cost savings, new revenue opportunities, increased operational efficiencies and increased competitive advantage.
- Assess your business processes and revisit your business model. Many companies struggle to optimise their business processes because of siloed lines of businesses and operating units. Cross-functional integration powered by AI can improve and automate costly processes like customer and supplier service.
Also, look at the big picture. Are there new business opportunities that can be pursued with the greater speed and insight that AI provides? For example, the ability to reduce friction points and time in a Quote to Order process can attract new customers and increase revenue.
AI is a technology that will greatly benefit early adopters as they leapfrog their competitors to greater competitiveness and profits. So get ready for AI now, before your competitors do.