They came for the money. They stayed for the innovation.
In a survey of more than 400 finance and IT leaders, the majority of respondents said they made the move to enterprise resource planning (ERP) cloud for economic reasons—which included the desire to avoid infrastructure investments (45percent) and on-premises upgrades (33percent), as well as lower the total cost of ownership (38percent).
What was really heartening was that almost two-thirds (63 percent) achieved the economic benefits they were hoping for. But something surprising also emerged from the survey results. When asked about the top benefits of ERP Cloud, an overwhelming 81 percent cited, “Staying current on technology” as the #1 benefit—far outpacing usability, flexibility, economics, and collaboration.
The ability to keep up with the unprecedented pace of business change—implementing the latest best practices and innovations on a regular basis—is a paradigm shift for the back-office. Instead of having to bridge the gap with spreadsheets and the manual transfer of data, new functionality and best practices are pushed out to Finance several times a year by the cloud provider.
In the old world of on-premises systems, it would be unthinkable (and undoable) to update ERP at such a breakneck pace. Years usually pass between upgrades—and with every passing year, your growing small-to-medium business (SMB) stops―well―growing.
With cloud, the risk of technology obsolescence drops to zero—putting the business on a more solidly competitive footing. As Frank Sorrentino, CEO of ConnectOne Bank, stated in Intelligent Finance:
“Bankers ask me all the time, ‘How are you running that business, at that size, with that growth rate, with that reputation and with that level of service with as few people as you have?’ We are living in a cloud-based world. And as far as I am concerned, there is no better place to be.”
The cloud is the primary delivery mechanism for new and emerging technologies: blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), cognitive computing, intelligent process automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Finance professionals are exhibiting a keen interest in these technologies. Roughly 4 out of 10 are already exploring these areas—in keeping with their desire for innovation and new capabilities.
Many of these emerging technologies fall squarely into the charter of the finance function. For example, blockchain has a number of use cases that could impact finance and the supply chain, while AI and machine learning can detect patterns in huge data sets that humans being could never detect, potentially reducing and even correcting for material risks.
These technologies have the potential to maximize resources, decrease risk, and generate more revenue. Tasks that requires efficiency, or where efficiency matters most, will be handled by technology. Humans will work on the “inefficient tasks:” innovation, experimentation, modeling, etc. These are the fun things anyway.
With the benefits clearer than ever, ERP Cloud has become the new standard for Finance. Over three-fourths (76 percent) of our survey respondents said they either already have ERP Cloud or have plans to run ERP in the cloud within 24 months. The discussion is no longer about when to make the move. It’s now.
Historically, the concerns about migrating the core financial system has left ERP as one of the last technology systems running on-premises. Yet the vast majority of companies we surveyed believe that the benefits of such a move outweigh the potential pitfalls; less than one-quarter of respondents (24percent) have no plans for ERP Cloud (yet).
With the pace of business change accelerating, finance leaders recognize that yesterday’s technology won’t help them grow their company. Moving to ERP Cloud is what small-to-medium businesses need to re-invent and transform their business processes. With the regular cadence of innovation delivered by the cloud, and zero risk of technology obsolescence, finance leaders will be well positioned to help build the business of the future.