The development of the Internet of Things (IoT) promises to be one of the biggest advancements ever to impact business IT. Now that it's possible to connect devices—ranging from watches and phones to heavy equipment and even whole buildings—to information networks, it's possible to monitor data from a much larger number of forces that affect the health of your business.
That creates a wealth of exciting opportunities to maximize efficiency and productivity. But the data generated from IoT devices also places a new stress on legacy ERP systems. And if those ERPs are not equipped to keep up, they will significantly inhibit the success of your IoT initiatives. Here is what you will need for IoT and ERP to work together the way you intend.
Expand the Power of Your ERP
Many providers of both IoT and ERP solutions will tell you that they are automatically interoperable. But unless you have investigated this claim in depth, there could be big problems looming on the horizon.
The reason that IoT is so valuable is that it is able to generate scores of new data. But as someone who already relies on ERP, you understand that effective data management is extremely complicated. Despite the provider's claims, many older ERP systems are ill equipped to handle the avalanche of data that appears because of IoT.
If the ERP you rely on does not have the bandwidth, storage, or processing power to keep pace with multiples of new data, it will need to be updated. Some providers can boost your capabilities. But in other cases, it will be necessary to seek out a new ERP provider entirely if you're going to embrace IoT.
Be Willing to Make Seismic Shifts
The potential of IoT has been breathlessly speculated about for years now. And while some enterprises have been able to use connected devices on a large scale to do exciting things, many more are struggling to turn the potential of IoT into real value on the balance sheet.
That is because the deep view afforded by IoT catches a lot of companies off guard. It's like pulling back a curtain and having all your assumptions about your company replaced by surprising realities, some positive, others negative.
Making the most of IoT requires companies to fundamentally rethink who they are, what they do, and why they operate in a specific way. Those discoveries will impact things like ERP systems for manufacturing just as significantly as any other part of the company. In the wake of IoT, it may be necessary to make sweeping changes to the ERP as well.
Get Flexible Fast
IoT is such a transformative technology that, despite its ubiquity, has yet to reach maturity. Up to 6.4 billion "things" are expected to be connected by the end of 2016, even though this technology is still very much in its infancy.
The basic concepts of IoT will not change, but the details are already undergoing a transformation. The way that devices capture and transmit data, work together within networks, and operate cooperatively with other solutions will all be radically different soon.
That means whatever current approach you use to integrate IoT with ERP must be able to change and evolve. And ERP that has already shown itself to be cumbersome and inflexible will only create bigger setbacks moving forward. It's better to switch to a more adaptable solution now when it's important rather than later when it's imperative.
IoT and ERP may overlap in a lot of ways, but they are not natural partners. If one will work with the other instantly and seamlessly is a big mistake. To avoid the biggest pitfalls, think about them as a pair rather than thinking about them in isolation.