As the pace of change accelerates and disruptive newcomers enter established industries, midmarket companies are challenged to maintain their competitive edge. Wisely, a majority of businesses have embarked on a strategy of digital transformation with the goal of becoming more innovative, agile and responsive to market needs. According to a recent study by RSM US LLP, 94% of respondents have a detailed operational plan in place to achieve their digital strategy.
The technology choices that companies make have a direct impact on process improvements, new product development and market strength. With so many solutions now available, however, leadership must be judicious about implementing the technology solutions that will drive the most return on investment.
Part of an organization’s digital strategic plan should be to seize opportunities created by the increased capabilities that a cloud-based enterprise resource planning solution brings to the table. Organizations can take advantage of gaps in peer strategies by rolling out, or further emphasizing, technologies that may be underutilized. Solutions that may not be a priority for others might provide more insight into customer needs and processes, and can help tailor product offerings.
Our research indicates that underutilized technologies are available in best-in-class ERP solutions that midmarket companies can use to leapfrog the competition: robotic process automation, customer relationship management and data analytics. Let’s take a look at each of these.
Robotic process automation
In the coming years, automation is likely to be one of the hottest opportunities midmarket companies can use to enhance their offerings. In the survey mentioned above, 36% of respondents cited automation as an underutilized technology that could provide a potential competitive opening. In an environment of rapidly rising wages and a competitive talent market, companies that can automate lower-value repetitive and semi-repetitive tasks will free their employees to focus on higher-value initiatives.
With RPA, users create software bots or programs that execute a specific task according to the user's instructions. These bots can learn and execute rules-based business processes by observing human digital actions. This allows companies to use RPA to perform such tasks as data entry or standard transaction processing, or to respond to simple customer service queries. One of the key benefits of RPA is that it can be implemented within existing systems or infrastructure without application programming interfaces (APIs) or coding, thereby reducing the need for costly and time-consuming IT intervention.
Case study: Telehealth leader
A market leader in the telehealth industry acquired a business that was using an ERP system incompatible with its own, resulting in duplicative and manual back-office processes that were time-consuming, inefficient and prone to human error. After performing a finance Rapid Assessment® to diagnose issues, strategize and develop a road map for a holistic finance transformation, RSM helped the company transition to a modern cloud ERP across the enterprise, allowing it to optimize and automate its core back-office processes, including sales tax compliance across all 50 states, ASC 606 revenue recognition compliance and ASC 842 lease accounting standards.
Customer relationship management
In the previously mentioned RSM study, 33% of respondents agreed that CRM was a technology with untapped potential, and it’s easy to see why: Rising customer expectations mean that fostering ongoing customer satisfaction and loyalty is central to the success of any midmarket company. The survey results also suggest that traditional CRM software, while critical, is no longer sufficient.
These days, customers are connected to just about every business process. For example, midmarket companies can make significant advances by implementing a CRM system and connecting it to their ERP to gain an aggregate view of customer interactions. By connecting ERP systems, data and websites, companies have the ability to be digital lead-generation ready.
Case study: Government agency
System silos made it difficult for a social services agency to manage case work and refer individuals to other agency services. Applicants were frustrated by having to provide the same information to different individuals in different departments within the same agency. RSM created new processes that built the functionality of the agency’s old systems into a modern cloud-based CRM that’s connected to all of the agency’s business applications. Following the transition, applicant information is securely shared across the agency, embracing its “no wrong door” policy that looks for better ways to meet community needs. Case workers are now able to streamline cases and be more proactive in providing assistance.
With pressure from competitors, increased regulation and costs, and shrinking revenue, businesses need to use every tool that’s available to them to make better-informed decisions. Today, leveraging data is a must-have capability—it helps drive excellence, creates a competitive advantage and allows organizations to make wise, data-driven decisions more quickly.
Business intelligence solutions convert the mountains of raw data flowing into your organization from numerous sources, including social media, into previously unattainable insights regarding financial health, operational efficiency and who your buyers really are. It’s no wonder 33% of respondents to the RSM survey cited analytics as yet another opportunity for bottom-line growth.
Case study: Food services
A quick-service franchisor and operator needed a modern, cloud-based ERP system that could centralize reporting and analysis across its six brands. RSM helped the company deploy this solution as a single source for financial reporting and analysis at a transaction level across its brands, and also developed a standardized chart of accounts, which will increase efficiency and provide scalability for future acquisitions.
Leveraging underutilized ERP technology for the win
Forward-thinking midmarket companies are looking at numerous exciting technologies as part of their digital transformation, including 5G networks, artificial intelligence, blockchain and enterprise mobility. But they shouldn’t lose sight of other potential transformative digital solutions.
Many foundational and proven platforms, such as CRM and ERP systems, are still extremely important, as are data analytics platforms that can help companies better understand customer behavior and motivations. Rather than reinventing the wheel or chasing the crowd, it may make more sense to pursue untapped opportunities through the use of these underused technologies.
Are you ready to choose the right software and implementation partner for your ERP cloud migration? RSM has developed a Cloud ERP Selection Guide to help you explore options; we invite you to learn how we conduct a fit gap analysis to identify the right solution.