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Unit 4: Integrating the Global Business Structure through ERP Applications

The 21st century world has been exposed to many a technological marvel that has transformed the world we live in to a great extent. Most of these modern innovations are confined to the field of IT and in most instances have given birth to several new innovations that revolve around the fundamental principles of their parent technologies. This phenomenon has been quite common in the virtual storage sector where several new technologies and applications have either been integrated into or have spawned from the various virtual storage tools. For businesses,ERP has been a sector that has been most closely associated with virtual storage especially its most successful platform-the cloud. Despite ERP’s 25 year history, the overhaul that the field has received by the ascent of cloud technology has attributed to the massive change in the business landscape today.However ERP’s integration with the cloud could be defined as being more due to the need to adapt to the technology than to apply the technology for business purposes. In the later part of the previous decade, coping with the newer technologies such as Mobile,Cloud and Big data had become an inevitable factor as companies were finding it very hard to exist in a business environment where these innovations were dictating market strategies and other such attributes around which businesses revolve. ERP to this end has been an invaluable tool as it envelops all these IT tools and plays a pivotal role for companies seeking to implement them into their systems. Netherland based company Unit4 has been the purveyor of this vital brand of services to the Asia Pacific market for over two decades.

Introducing ERP in a Relatively Fresh APAC Market

Established in 1980, Unit4 has always sought to transform the business structure in the APAC region which at the time was largely undeveloped and was confined to the large corporationsthat represented a majority portion of the market. Unit4’s inception could be considered as an extension of its founder Chris Ouwinga’s vision of employing enterprise applications in a more personal and user-centric manner to make users and companies more successful. The company’s perception that people are the backbone of an enterprise’s operations has been vital in crafting the various services to enhance each of its clients’ employee efficiency and performance. In the APAC region Unit4’s primary focus is to transform the business systems of organizations to cope with the ever changing global business landscape. To this end Unit4’s initiatives have been largely inclined towards the automation of its clients’ business processes through ERP solutions to enable employees to focus on mission critical tasks and innovations within their organizations.These ERP solutions are devised to enable various organizations to manage change in a speedy, cost effective and efficient manner. This also aids to a great extent in the proper and efficient strategizing of business which can help organizations derive great business value.

The Advent of the Self-Driving ERP System

Unit4’s positive disposition towards constant innovation motivated the company to think on the lines of developing an ERP system that is self-reliant and self-driven. This in the recent past led to the birth of the Unit4’s Business World which combines the unique attributes of consumer-grade experience and enterprise strength to derive the necessary service potential required to meet the unique business needs of consumers accustomed to this digital era. The Business World suite makes full use of the various distinctive aspects of automation and decision-support methods based around new predictive analysis technologies. “Self-driving ERP is designed to meet the unique needs of customers in the digital era where the system takes over the repetitive work and users are supported by intelligence systems,” elaborates Jack van der Velde, CEO of Unit4’s APAC division. The Business World suite indeed defines the very meaning of self-driving ERP by offering the users the comfort of not having to burden themselves with the various trivialities and intricacies of a traditional ERP system, as most of Unit4’s customers have come to experience in recent years.This attribute of Business World comes quite in handy while integrating business systems with the cloud to enhance the flexibility in business portfolio applications thereby lowering costs.

According to Gartner about 80 percent of the world’s ERP systems will move into the cloud by the year 2018. If this scenario were to unfold as per Gartner’s prediction then the Business World Suite users would truly find this massive transit into virtual storage technology a cakewalk. Unit4’s self driving ERP
technology enables clients to shift from on-premise to the cloud with the same application by just transferring the datasets. Since the introduction of its self driving ERP initiative, Unit4 has sought out many paths to innovate this core aspect of its technologyand in recent years has forged partnerships with IT giants such as Microsoft to achieve positive results towards this end. With Microsoft, Unit4’s initiative took a different turn through the integration of the innovative advances in the Azure platform offered by Microsoft. Self-driving ERP coupled with the Azure platform further redefined the former’s core function by offering a system which eliminated the user’s need to enter data continuously thereby creating a self-sustaining, self-reliant system that could be handled rather easily, compared to the traditional ERP suites.

Delivering a New Edge to Enterprise Financials

While Business World may constitute the bulk of Unit4’s service complement, there are several other services offered by the company towards the enhancement of ERP solutions, most of them revolving around their self driving suite. One such service that would stand out is the Office of the CFO wherein clients are provided with innovative financial management solutions which are designed to meet the core needs of people and service centric organizations. In today’s business structure where the success of a company is determined by its proficiency in leveraging its data, this service can prove to be a valuable asset. The office of the CFO suite is primarily comprised of integrated and role focused applications that project a clear and transparent picture for all business functions within an organization, thereby providing a new edge to the monitoring and implementation of business changes in a way that has never before been seen in the ERP market anywhere in the world. The uniqueness of the office of the CFO trough the Business World Suite can be better comprehended if one were to analyse the various features of the traditional ERP systems where users aresubject to an expensive, arduous and lengthy process which is often hindered by several bouts of disruption due to various internal causes.

The proliferation of technologies and gadgets has caused a digital disruption of sorts which is taking Asia Pacific by storm

This truly reiterates the need for a self-driven ERP system and in Business World’s caseit would be safe to say that the incorporation of tools such as workflow engine and modeller have truly paved way for companies to derive better results from their ERP functions. “Key capabilities in Unit4 Business World for dynamic service organizations include the Workflow engine and Modeler in which users can build different versions of the organization chart and workflow and test the effects of the changes before applying the business change through all the functions with one key stroke, or even scheduled overnight,” elaborates van der Velde.

Recently the CFO suite received an overhaul through the incorporation of Flexfields and Analyzer, in-memory capabilities to enable the offering of real-time statistics which is in demand quite a lot these days. Moreover more than 2000 API’s at Unit4’s disposal have enabled it to integrate its financials tools with customer’s chosen industry or role specific applications in an easy and cost effective manner without affecting either party while upgrading or replacing. All these services combined together craft the most favourable business environments for organizations to thrive in.

Equipping Organizations for the Next Wave of the Digital Era

The proliferation of technologies and gadgets has caused a digital disruption of sorts which is taking Asia Pacific by storm. This has cultivated a competitive yet chaotic environment that has prompted companies to find ways to stay ahead of the curve. Unit4 in this scenario is constantly innovating to ensure that it is capable to provide the necessary support and equip them well for their journey towards digital transformation. “We aim to offer smart solutions that not only meet the need of our customers, but anticipate their needs to give them an edge over their competitors. Self-driving ERP is a great example of that,” says van der Velde.
In the years to come Unit4 intends to expand its reach to the public and private sectors of APAC through a growing network of channel partners while also expanding their service competence to cope with the changing technological landscape. In the long run the company intends to establish itself as the ERP vendor of choice in the various global markets it caters to.