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Could Cloud Spell the End for ERP As We Know It?

Why Cloud ERP Is the Future

Enterprise Resource Planning has traditionally been a software for large corporates with million dollar technology budgets. But that has been changing over the past decade with the advent of cloud based ERP systems. According to a survey conducted by Sage, nearly 30% of finance managers at UK based SMEs believe that cloud could make ERP more affordable or viable to them. In another study published by Gartner, the top five fastest growing ERP vendors today are all SaaS companies. Even the larger, mature SaaS players like NetSuite have registered exponential growth rates of nearly 40% while the traditional on-premise vendors like Oracle and SAP are showing signs of stagnation.

The growth of cloud has brought about a dramatic shift in the demographics of a typical ERP customer. According to Gartner, there is an urgent need for larger enterprises to realize the cultural shift that cloud ERP has brought in, and evolve accordingly. A major cause of resistance, Gartner notes, is that most of the middle and senior management in large enterprises is composed of technology folks who have spent their lifetime deploying and maintaining on-premise ERP systems. A migration to the cloud is seen as a means to make their own jobs redundant and as a result, “this is a clock that will not stop ticking until they retire.

But that's a dangerous gamble to make. SaaS ERP has made technology affordable and accessible to smaller businesses. In addition to the cheaper pricing plans, SaaS ERP is also easy to maintain and update. Consequently, smaller businesses with SaaS ERP are likely to enjoy newer features than larger companies that make use of customized on-premise ERP that are not up-to-date with business requirements. This is a guaranteed way for the larger enterprises to lose their competitive edge with the smaller players in the industry.

An earlier Gartner report had predicted that traditional on-premise ERP could be relegated to legacy status as early as 2016. That is a major cause for concern for the larger ERP players like Oracle who have less than 10% of their revenues coming from SaaS. The only string that keeps Oracle's traditional ERP system still relevant is the barrier for enterprises to migrate from these large systems to more agile cloud solutions. But a solution to this could be well on the way from rival cloud based service providers. In such a scenario, it's a matter of time before a large chunk of larger enterprises move their ERP systems to the cloud. When that happens, it could spell the end for ERP as we know it. And we are closer to this now than we have been any time in the past – that's a realization that companies like SAP and Oracle need to have in order to stay relevant in a postmodern ERP ecosystem.

More Stories By Harry Trott

Harry Trott is an IT consultant from Perth, WA. He is currently working on a long term project in Bangalore, India. Harry has over 7 years of work experience on cloud and networking based projects. He is also working on a SaaS based startup which is currently in stealth mode.