AI Has Crept Into ERP. Are You Ready?


We have been hearing a lot about artificial intelligence in ERP recently, and it is more than a buzzword — AI in ERP systems is an up-to-the-minute reality, with the power to transform the entire landscape of business software.

There has been a great deal of focus on artificial intelligence in recent years, in just about every industry. But first, because the mere mention of AI can conjure fear and confusion, let us dispel a common misconception: Artificial intelligence is not inherently evil.

While there is a fear that AI will usher in an age of robot overlords — as depicted in movies like The Terminator or Avengers: Age of Ultron —these examples paint a grossly exaggerated picture of what AI is capable of. As Kilian Weinberger of Cornell University explains, “AI reaching consciousness — there has been absolutely no progress in research in that area. I don't think that's anywhere in our near future.”

So, what is AI? Put simply, systems powered by AI are those that simulate human reasoning and intelligent behavior. These systems are capable of completing tasks that typically require human intelligence.

There are many different examples of AI technology in everyday life: built-in smart assistants in your smartphone or other smart devices (think Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant), speech recognition software, security services, streaming services, impending drone delivery services from companies like Amazon, and the list goes on.

A Profound Impact

CIO magazine put it best when they wrote about how artificial intelligence is transforming ERP solutions back in 2016: “Without a doubt, artificial intelligence (AI) will have a profound impact on the footprint of enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions in the foreseeable future. AI will enable organizations to further optimize their operating model made up of business processes, software applications, governance structures and technology infrastructure.”

Artificial Intelligence in ERP is powerful and continues to augment the effectiveness of ERP solutions everywhere. In fact, AI-based ERP is already part of many familiar platforms:

  • Epicor debuted EVA, an AI-based voice command user interface earlier this year that is aimed at improving productivity.
  • Microsoft provides users with cognitive services, bot service, and cognitive search through its Azure AI.
  • NetSuite launched its first intelligent cloud suite in 2018, which enables professionals to gain better insights and greater efficiency through predictive, prescriptive and automated outcomes.
  • SAP has a cloud-based predictive maintenance system based on machine learning algorithms, as well as a chatbot that uses machine learning technologies, among other AI-enabled processes and tools.

Accelerate, Automate and Improve

A primary advantage of artificial intelligence in ERP is that it makes it easier to automate business processes across an organization and track key data about the resources throughout that organization. Making intelligent decisions relies upon the efficiency of your processes, after all.

Looking at legacy business logic and expert systems like Oracle and SAP, it seems clear that AI-enabled ERP was in its infancy 20-30 years ago. Today, AI in ERP systems helps so many areas of a business operation, including accounting, purchasing, and procurement.

The benefits of AI in ERP include:

  • Forecasting
  • Analytics
  • Making purchase decisions
  • Accurate demand planning
  • Human capital management (matching candidates with positions)
  • Marketing products to people who want to buy them
  • Maintaining high customer service
  • Mining data for important trends

So, should you develop and execute an AI strategy? Our answer: it depends. Yes, it might make sense for your company to implement an AI-based ERP, but it is not intended to be a siloed initiative. You should, however, evaluate your most pressing business issues.

Consider the key decisions you make on a regular basis and what kinds of insights and information would help you improve them. There are applications out there that embrace AI that will take you to the next level and help you make more uniform decisions across your enterprise.

We at ERP Advisors Group believe that AI should be part of the foundation upon which all ERP systems are built—and soon, it will be. Your ERP platform enables good decision-making. And what business organization doesn’t want to improve that?

The way that people use AI to solve business problems is always evolving. You might not know the details of how machine learning could play a role in your business process improvement initiatives, but rest assured, this technology is transforming ERP platforms and companies across the globe. And chances are, the ERP platform you use today or the one you’re considering implementing in 2020 might already embrace AI technology.

Call ERP Advisors Group

If you have questions about AI and how to identify and implement the right ERP system for you, call us. We’re here to answer your questions about how AI is already a part of ERP, and what to expect in the future.