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May 05, 2017

From the System of Record to the System of Intelligence

By Special Guest
David Appel, Head of Software and SaaS at Intacct

For years, ERP has been the go-to system for running a business. Organizations use it to manage everything from financials to manufacturing to human resources. As the system of record, ERP recorded transactions across the organization to capture a complete picture of a particular customer, for instance, or a particular product.

The 1990s legacy vendors of ERP were long considered best in class, the cutting edge. But now organizations approach to ERP needs to evolve. Today, in the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, organizations can do better than running a system of record. They can run a system of intelligence.

A system of intelligence doesn’t just relay the obvious, like who your customers are or what products you’re manufacturing. It tells you what contracts you have over what period of time so you can forecast your finances.  It tells you what products you should be making and why you should be making them. It’s less personal assistant, more business consultant.

At the core of a system of intelligence is predictive analytics, which combines advanced data-analysis capabilities with the automation prowess of an ERP system. Predictive analytics can take your business to the next level. It can provide you with proactive notifications that identify deals which are going south before the bottom falls out. Or by helping you address customer problems before an actual crisis emerges.

In today’s hyper-connected, always-on environment, your company needs reliable and accurate metrics in real time so you can take immediate action on emerging trends, challenges and opportunities. With access to real-time insights, you can implement the needed actions to successfully manage your business and drive consistent growth.

That’s why the approach to ERP needs to evolve into a system of intelligence that can provide a set of real-time reports and charts that automatically uncovers critical operational insights. A system of intelligence can deliver immediate and long-lasting competitive advantage. It enables business leaders to quickly slice and dice metrics by new revenue, add-ons or upgrades, or by vital business drivers like industry, segment, channel and product. They can get answers to key questions like: Am I on budget or am I off budget? Are we meeting our deadlines with customers? Are we achieving high customer satisfaction?

A system of intelligence also allows leaders to optimize their business by tracking different kinds of revenues—new customers, churn and renewals. And it enables them to model out how the expected earnings they can expect to get from delivering value for a particular customer—a month from now or a year from now, and thus better anticipate incoming revenues and outgoing cash.

By using their data to look forward, organizations can anticipate what’s coming down the road. They can see where they’re going, not just where they’ve been. But first they need data at their fingertips. With more data based on more facts, companies have a better, more realistic way to predict the future. It allows them to spot game-changing trends and problems, and then drill down to investigate and implement immediate action.

Take, for example, a sales contract with a customer. Right now, this document is part of your system of record. But what if it evolved into a system of intelligence? By knowing the lifecycle of that contract and combining it with the data in your ERP system, you can apply analytics that give you important business insights. You can plan into the future what your billings, bookings and cash flow will be. You can get a true, real-time view of key business drivers at the exact moment you need it.

Your system of intelligence does not replace your current systems, it is an evolution of them. This way you’ll be able to quickly and easily add analytics to your business decision-making process without disturbing your current workflows or adding new complexity to daily activities.

Without a system of intelligence, you’re making decisions based on opinions and gut feel, not on fact. In this brave new world, an unintelligent ERP is increasingly becoming pointless. Because it’s no longer good enough to have a master record of information. You now need to put that information to work so you can make intelligent decisions that better prepare you for the future. This new level of insight can help your organization gain operational efficiencies and maximize profit margins. And that’s a smart way to do business.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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