Setting ERP Free

Loraine Lawson

ERP is often a stumbling block for business, and if that's ever going to change, CIOs need a new, more flexible integration strategy for ERP solutions, according to Forrester.


The research firm released a new report on the topic called, "It's Time To Tame The ERP Integration Beast." The cost is $499, so of course I haven't read it, but PCWorld.com featured a nice synopsis of it. It includes this eloquently-worded quote from the full report, which nicely sums up the integration problems with ERP:

Enterprise apps are born free and self-contained, yet everywhere they are in chains. They are in chains that bind them to the complementary apps in an enterprise, they are harnessed to apps and processes shared by members of a value-chain community, and they are connected to outsourced processes or cloud services such as Salesforce.com. IT designs these chains to bring greater value to the enterprise from its applications and in many cases has spent the past decade working to integrate these applications, but integration issues often limit the actual value apps can deliver.

You gotta love the idea of enterprise apps, born free and unencumbered, until IT comes along, binding them with integration, like circus elephants chained to a railroad tie.


The PCWorld.com article identifies six ERP-integration challenges CIOs will need to address if ERP is to support an agile enterprise. Among the issues: The range of integration options; middleware choices that help the ERP vendor, but not you; and limited interoperability outside the vendor's suite.


Although the article doesn't mention it, if you read the synopsis of the Forrester report, you'll see the report recommends a complete upgrade in the way you handle ERP integration. I'd love to hear a bit more about what that means, but I guess that's why they charge the "big bucks" for those reports.


Speaking of ERP and complete overhaul, those of you on SAP might want to check out InformationWeek's recent Analytics Alert, "The Reinvention of SAP." Not surprisingly, the paper recommends SAP focus on data integration and "making it all work":

SAP is prominently pushing the notion that it's an open environment with room and freedom for everyone, while it is stepping up its attacks on Oracle as a closed environment offering customers little or no alternative choices. ... But to live up to its talk, SAP must do more than just hammer Oracle. SAP must make a huge commitment to simplifying the thorny and time-consuming problems that enterprises face in trying to weave together data from different applications, platforms and departments.

ERP's stodgy, unwielding ways are attracting a lot of attention these days-and by "these days," I pretty much mean this decade. More recently, the discussion has turned to the connection between BPM and ERP and to the possibility of ERP in the cloud.


Although, you have to wonder, if integration is the issue, will a cloud-based ERP really result in more agility?

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