From Maps To Apps: Why We Need A New Generation Of ERP

David Sweetman

Those of us of a certain age remember the AAA paper road maps and the hassle of unfolding and refolding them after every use. Or following directions that referred to landmarks like local pubs and corner stores. Perhaps, if you are younger,  the first GPS systems were your “map” of choice.

At the time, those electronic mapping devices were considered amazing innovations that showed your location so you could get to your final destination without getting lost. They would keep track of where you were and where you’ve been. Most impressively, they would keep up with you, turn for turn, and reprocess your position to find a new way home.

No sooner did people think maps couldn’t get better, a range of apps proved them wrong. Waze is connected to vehicles continuously to display – in real-time – where traffic is building, whether there’s a traffic jam or accident, and which route is the best to take. It’s undeniably fast, constantly analyzing traffic and historical time-of-day patterns.

The power of new architectures

The beauty behind the evolution of maps is the use of a different architecture. No longer static, poster-sized papers or books, maps are now actively listening, understanding, and recommending alternatives intelligently. And behind this transformation is fast connectivity, deep geospatial and predictive analytics, constantly refining patterns, and artificial intelligence and machine learning that are detecting patterns and predicting behavior.

The same is the case for ERP systems. The transactions and movements they enable are anything but a small piece of a much larger puzzle. Their real speed and intelligence come from the new architecture. It’s invisible, but its power is enormous and game-changing. And before we know it, ERP systems change again to help us live better, become better stewards of our planet, and navigate life in new ways.

Like next-generation navigation systems, ERP systems are becoming highly collaborative in ways that are beyond “data traffic.” What if you knew how the fire in the Amazon could impact products made from wood and paper? Shouldn’t you predict the resulting changes on everything from supply chain costs and raw material availability to pricing strategies and on-time fulfillment of consumer demand? Better yet, how will finding alternative materials help you avoid losing sales and increasing prices?

Large companies have long seen value from this type of intelligence. They devote entire departments and significant resources to gain an edge by monitoring patterns. Now small and midsize businesses can tap into this same collaborative, connected, and cognitive experience with their ERP systems.

A better world and a competitive edge

For over a decade, traffic management using intelligent technology has improved how we plan our journeys to conserve fuel, minimize travel time, and reduce repair costs. And this is on top of the potential freedom people will experience as autonomous, navigation-enabled vehicles become commonplace.

A similar argument can be made for the evolution of ERP systems. Built on an intelligent, deeply predictive, and accurate in-memory architecture, the technology will enable people, businesses, and industries to adapt quickly, focus on the next innovation, and reach their ultimate destination on the smoothest path available.

SAP S/4HANA is built on an intelligent in-memory platform that takes it beyond the recordkeeping systems of yesterday’s ERP to a new and exciting world. Learn more by viewing the infographic, Navigating the 7 C’s of Supply Chain Automation.” 


David Sweetman

About David Sweetman

David Sweetman is a Senior Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He is an accomplished software executive applying extensive business experience to develop and execute global product vertical and channel strategies that drive results. David has hands-on 360-degree experience of the software marketing, channels, sales, development and delivery processes.