The Tesla approach to ERP

  • Tesla has successfully pushed the envelope by tapping software advances
  • In much the same way, companies can deliver new ERP experiences with data

The Tesla approach to ERPTESLA Motor Inc’s reimagination of the modern car has given a new life to the product which has existed in today’s form more or less since 1886.
With software driving its vision, the electric car-maker is disrupting the automobile industry and changing the way we think about cars. It has successfully pushed beyond existing boundaries by utilising the advances that software can deliver, rather than working within the constraints of hardware.
Tesla’s electric cars can accelerate as fast as today’s sports cars without the noise. They are bringing down the cost of driverless vehicles and have proven zero-emissions are possible.
Cars will be networked, safety assured, and journeys optimised in real-time, solving the problem of congestion in cities. The AI-based autopilot advances will make self-driving cars mainstream.
With its fresh approach to the design and engineering of cars, the company has achieved a level of innovation not typically associated with the car industry.
The era of post-modern ERP
In contrast to the auto industry, the software industry has been known to see very rapid innovation. ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, in particular, are undergoing a renaissance.
The industry is undergoing large-scale change and innovation in response to new technology and the growing services-economy. As a result, there is a positive shift in the way companies are thinking about ERP systems and their role in the growth of the business.
In order to stay ahead of the competition, organisations today must make better decisions, provide better customer service, and find new business opportunities from their data.
The key to achieving this is leveraging all available data at their disposal.
By feeding this data into the cloud and utilising machine learning and other smart analytics, companies can start to make sense of the vast variety of data and apply it where relevant, to reimagine the user experience completely.
This information can then be used to pre-populate data into ERP applications, freeing users from manual tasks. It can also be used to sense potential problems and notify users where an error is about to occur or when something needs attention.
Additionally, the information can provide intelligent recommendations, turning typically complex and painstaking tasks (e.g. planning of a multi-stage project) into activities that actually provide a sustainable competitive advantage.
In essence, organisations can remove the need for user interaction and apply smart analytics to process a transaction from start to finish – making it 100% self-driving.
The path to self-driving ERP

The Tesla approach to ERP

Ultimately, understanding and applying data will make ERP more automated, more self-driven, and deliver a completely new experience. There are four stages in this path.
1) Standardising
Standardisation of structured procedures enables integration and automation. Integrating the operational and financial systems of an organisation provides a comprehensive and consistent picture to all the stakeholders within the organisation, greatly enhancing the speed at which information flows through the business.
This enables organisations to better manage inefficiencies and gain a bigger-picture overview of overall business performance.
By automating as many tasks as possible, employees can work smarter and faster, freeing up time to focus on tasks that lead to positive impact.
2) Optimising
Companies that understand their position sooner are in a better position to adjust quickly to risks and opportunities and execute efficiently.
Using dedicated software to intelligently capture, organise and integrate data will enable companies to disseminate up-to-the minute information in real-time and produce better, faster insights that are firmly rooted in reality.
This empowers business management to act instantaneously on the information provided, minimising delays and operational disruption.
3) Becoming smart
With optimised and reliable data in place, smart analytics can start contributing to the business. Embedded inside cloud-based applications, it has the power to enable anyone to access, review and act on information in-context to the task they work on.
The inclusive intelligence this provides empowers people to make real-time insightful decisions, spot opportunities based on intelligent recommendations and, as such, deliver a personalised service to customers.
4) Letting applications self-drive
Big-data analytics combined with in-memory technologies and predictive, pattern-matching tools have the potential to uncover correlations between behaviours and outcomes and make ERP completely self-driving.
Users can enjoy a number of benefits from reduced manual input:

  • Instead of having to enter their time line-by-line, a simple yes/ no answer to a pop-up question auto-completes the action in the moment.
  • Manual tasks such as the weekly or monthly expense claims can be completely predicted and pre-populated, requiring just the ‘okay’ from the user.
  • Approval steps can be reduced to zero or the bare minimum by presenting the user with just the exceptions simply by using the power of smart technology.
  • Potential problems can be sensed and presented to the user’s attention to take corrective action, or go even one step further by prescribing the potential solutions.
  • Where the system does require the skills and intelligence of the user, it can help by providing intelligent recommendations. Based on the user’s choice, it can complete complex actions such as planning a full project including resource assignments in literally seconds.

The end goal for services organisations is providing the best services and user experience. In this regard, post-modern ERP systems and enterprise applications are opening up new frontiers for businesses the same way that Tesla’s software-led approach is making way for self-driven taxis, zero-emission cars, automatic ride sharing and driverless delivery services.
Guided by the outlined steps, companies can go beyond the perceived limitations of ERP in the same way Tesla has for speed, economics and disruption in the car industry.
The new approach delivering self-driving ERP creates boundless possibilities for business success.
Jack van der Velde is managing director of the Asia Pacific operations of Netherlands-headquartered business software company Unit4.
Related Stories:
Why and how adaptive ERP is key to your business success
Data drives the economy
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