You may now be asking "With all of that complexity, you see the role of the ERP system increasing?"
In an article by Manufacturing Business Technology magazine, their survey describes the increasing role of the ERP system in the Customer Experience.
The ERP has a significant role in streamlining interactions with suppliers and customers:
To improve our Front Office, we have to consider our Back Office.
When you think about it, most B2B e-commerce sites are simply about exposing specific functions of their ERP system to customers.
Take for example the shopping cart. By providing an online shopping cart you move the transaction from your inside sales team entering orders into the ERP, to your customer. By giving them their pricing based on their terms and conditions and contract online moves that function from the back office to your customer.
Order status, inventory availability by location, ATP (available to promise), taking payments, and even providing the catalog itself is about giving your customers transparency into your back office. Product content used to be housed only in marketing catalogs and cryptic codes in the ERP, now we have customer facing product content.
This transparency started very basic, but take a look at your backlog of customer requests. Do you pick up any patterns related to your ERP? I do not see that stopping. If I am correct in stating the secret of B2B e-commerce is about helping your customers do their job easier on your site then that means giving them more and more access to complete self service. ie More transparency into the ERP. The new Customer Facing ERP.