- 28 August 2013
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To understand what the next 10 years will bring for distribution, and what impact it will have, look at the last 10 years and then double that rate of change. Technology will provide information to the knowledge worker at any time on any device. This information will be personalized and will anticipate the needs and activities of every organizational role, helping employees make decisions on exceptions and automating routine daily processes. An enterprise software system will have to adapt to new business and technology strategies that few of us can accurately predict today.
You need to be sure that your company’s distribution software solution will be able to grow with the organization and adapt to changes in the business, as well as continue to offer the best in ERP functionality as the technology continues to evolve.
Questions you can ask to ensure the solution provider has a strategic vision for distribution technology include:
• What does their technology roadmap look like for your product?
What percentage of development is for new innovation versus bug fixes or incremental improvements? Do they release new versions of the software every other year, every year, every six months, or every quarter? Use their previous two years’ track record as proof.
• What is their vision for business mobility?
Are you able to access business information in environments outside of a monolithic ERP? Do they have business applications that run on mobile devices?
• How malleable is the software to your users’ specific needs?
Extensibility is a critical term when it comes to distribution software. Your solution should allow you to modify the look of screens and fields, create new business logic in the system without affecting the source code, and create user-specific portals into the information that each employee needs to perform their job as efficiently as possible.
• Do they have a vision for moving applications to the cloud?
Cloud computing (the delivery of computing as a service over the Internet) continues to grow exponentially because of its ability to keep costs low and provide anywhere, anytime access to your business system. A solution provider that lacks a firm understanding of the power of the cloud and a vision for taking their products there will not be a competitive player in years to come.
Evidence of dedication to providing strategic, enterprise-wide, mission-critical applications to support your distribution business model and size—today and tomorrow—is important. To that end, look for a reputation for agility in accommodating new market needs. History is the best predictor of the future, and vendors involved more than three decades ago in the early development of “computerized” distribution systems will provide a more solid choice. That philosophy must also continue today, delivering new solutions that streamline and automate business operations and processes.
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