ERP Roadmap: Here’s What Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle are Working on

June 13, 2019 - by Manoj Nair

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For companies on the road to digital transformation, an ERP is a great facilitator to meet digital goals. Since a lot more companies are advancing into the digital age in the last couple of years, adopting a cloud-ERP model is vital to meet the growing demands of your business. Today’s top 3 ERP solutions, namely Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, SAP S/4 HANA, and Oracle ERP Cloud leverage the most modern technologies to help businesses stay ahead of market trends and gain a competitive edge. While the three ERPs offer a bevy of modern features and capabilities, it is the upcoming innovations that outline their commitment to providing top-notch ERP experiences. If you’re considering implementing an ERP solution, these roadmaps might help you make the right ERP decision.

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

For an ERP that is primarily focused on manufacturing, retail, and services, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365FO) aims to drive innovation with applications that are intelligent and customizable – to meet the growing needs of businesses. While D365FO, through its modern capabilities, enables enterprises of all sizes to deliver robust reporting, bring agility and efficiency into business operations, and increase profitability with business intelligence, here’s what the future roadmap looks like:

  • Business process and workflow integration: For organizations considering using Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations as their one-stop enterprise application shop, Microsoft offers exceptional integration capabilities. These capabilities will enable organizations to seamlessly assimilate data from across the organization and make data-driven decisions, faster. Improvements across business process and workflow will allow you to capture business events as they are executed, and send events to an external system or application. Organizations will also be able to receive a single dashboard for analytics purposes.
  • Advanced warehouse and transportation management capabilities: As more and more businesses look to unify global financial and operational aspects of their business, advanced warehouse and transportation management enhancements of D365 are poised to boost efficiency. With new tools such as advanced label printing, system directed work sequencing, optimized replenishment and more, organizations can meet complex fulfillment and distribution requirements.
  • Enhanced user productivity: If there’s one aspect of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations that makes it the sought-after ERP solution, it is the user interface. As the expectations of user experience increase, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations aims to constantly improve upon the user interface to make it more attractive, easy to use, informative, intuitive, and customizable. Upcoming versions of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations will focus on increasing usability, user productivity, and overall user satisfaction with the product.
  • Improvements to data export service: Data export service is a free ad-on that synchronizes Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) data to a Microsoft Azure SQL Database. Data export service enhancements are poised to be more reliable and performant; upcoming versions will show count and trend of records, provide notifications on write failures, reduce latency, and improve performance on processing deletes, amongst others.
  • Developer tool enhancements: With improvements to ready-to-use cloud and on-premises virtual machines, Dynamics 365 aims to make the process of setting up a unified operations development environment simple and reliable. By offering an array of standard modules, developers will be able to seamlessly develop more than one application on the same environment – thereby improving the development experience on local computers.
  • BI capabilities: With Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations offering a variety of BI capabilities, several improvements across BI services are in the pipeline: from expression-based formatting in Power BI Desktop, to better app navigation, new workspaces, enhanced email subscriptions, Azure integration, shared and certified data sets in Power BI service – there’s a lot to look forward to. Developments are also being made towards enhanced forecasting, and predictive analytics via Power BI to enhance reporting and optimize costing via intelligent planning.
  • AI and Machine Learning enhancements: As machine learning becomes indispensable for business excellence, Microsoft’s efforts towards AI enhancements will include the use of AI bots to simultaneously engage with multiple customers and resolve routine customer requests, expansion of knowledge base analytics to enable customers to leverage self-service capabilities and the use of IoT to detect, troubleshoot, and resolve issues on-site or remotely.

SAP S/4 HANA

With localization capabilities for over 120 countries, and deep industry-specific capabilities, SAP S/4 HANA is a market leader with a strong share of the ERP market – not just across geographies, but also across industries. And while current versions of SAP S/4 HANA are enabling organizations to seamlessly run their business end-to-end, here’s what is planned for upcoming versions:

  • Asset intelligence network integration: Integration of asset intelligence network with enterprise asset management will enable organizations to benefit from a range of new features: synchronization of Equipment Technical Identification Number, mapping of EAM equipment status value to the AIN phase, copy of work order operations and maintenance notification items to AIN, and creation of AIN location and transfer to EAM functional location.
  • Technical object damage analysis: Enhancements to technical object damage analysis will allow organizations to identify damages that are caused frequently, check what has caused them, and find the appropriate damaged technical object parts. In addition, organizations will be able to track key performance indicators which display all the causes of the damage, view detailed analytical reports, and examine related maintenance notifications, among others.
  • Centralized purchase requisitions: With centralized purchase requisitions, organizations can consider planned orders, and purchase requisitions as supply elements for assignments in preview and simulation modes of Supply Assignment. They can also assign planned orders and purchase requisitions as future or incoming supplies to sales orders (SO) or stock transport orders (STO) in preview and simulation modes.
  • Real-world awareness: As taking decisions in real-time becomes imperative for businesses, SAP S/4 HANA’s auto-identification feature is all set to allow organizations to act in real-time. With real-world awareness, organizations will be able to sense and respond to objects in real-time, and automate data discovery. They will also be able to reduce downtime through better tracking, maintenance, and asset utilization, improve accuracy and speed of shipping, and serve customers more efficiently.
  • Automated invoice processing: Considering the fact that manual processing of invoices is time-consuming, automated invoice processing will allow organizations to replace error-prone, complex, manual invoice processes with automated invoice management. Organizations will be able to process supplier invoices quickly, accurately, and efficiently while reducing costs and risks, and improving invoice process efficiency.
  • Natural language processing for sales orders: With more and more organizations struggling to manage their sales orders, natural language processing for sales orders will allow sales teams to directly input language for processing sales orders – instead of having to manually feed in details into a system. This feature will not only reduce delays and problems that arise during sales order fulfillment, but also improve handling of issues.
  • Intelligent user experiences: Enhancing user experience has always been a priority for SAP. Upcoming versions of SAP S/4 HANA are poised to offer best-in-class runtime experience to users. Unified integration for processes as well as data, dynamic scalability based on cloud-native principles, and an ecosystem with the richest business content will enable intelligent experiences to users across industries.

Oracle ERP Cloud

Oracle ERP Cloud is built through development and acquisition of robust product lines and provides flexible functionality to a variety of industries. With capabilities across finance, accounting, project management, risk management, revenue management, and analytics, Oracle ERP Cloud is an ideal choice to drive operational efficiencies and intelligent business processes. Here’s what the roadmap for Oracle ERP cloud looks like:

  • Role-based visualizations: With a broad selection of enterprise-grade cloud solutions, role-based visualizations will allow access to crucial analytical data only to users with permission. When users are assigned an application role, pre-defined privileges will determine what users can see and do in Oracle Data Visualization Cloud Service. These improvements aim to keep content organized, reduce the chances of error and fraud, and enable only users with authorization to view, edit, and share content.
  • Next-gen analytical apps: As real-time analytics becomes a business prerogative, through business intelligence applications, Oracle aims to provide complete, real-time, and enterprise wide insight, enabling fact-based actions and intelligent interaction. A bevy of next-gen analytical apps spanning human resources, financial, procurement and spend, supply chain, project, enterprise asset and manufacturing analytics are being developed that aim to increase effectiveness across the entire customer life cycle.
  • Adaptive intelligent SaaS applications: A group of pre-built AI and data-driven capabilities, adaptive intelligent SaaS applications aim to deliver better business results across customer experience (CX), human capital management (HCM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and manufacturing. With recommended sales actions, intelligent supplier categorization, smart candidate lists, and personalized product recommendations, these apps will help businesses work smarter, operate smarter, and engage smarter with their partners, suppliers, customers, and employees.
  • Process excellence dashboards: As metrics and dashboards continue to play a critical role in process improvement, Oracle’s efforts towards process excellence dashboards aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of core business processes. These dashboards will focus on critical KPIs that have a profound impact on sustaining business success. They also aim to provide organizations with an understanding of current status of processes, carry out process analysis, and devise improvement plans.
  • In-memory cost management cloud service: Improvements in in-memory cost management cloud service will allow organizations to define enterprise-wide cost strategy, simulate unlimited what-if scenarios, and perform cost, margin, and profitability analyses – in real time. Organizations will be able to identify the most profitable product mix, optimize working capital, and derive accurate costs for improved profitability.
  • UI modernization: As user experience becomes central to the success of any ERP solution, Oracle Cloud ERP’s UI modernization efforts are aimed to enhance user experience across organizational levels. From modern forms, to more intuitive UI, better usability to improved responsiveness, new initiatives to improved access to development resources – upcoming versions of Oracle ERP cloud aim to make use of existing application assets to move toward more agile and cost-effective technology environments.
  • Enhanced integration with EWM: As inventory control and management become critical for exceptional customer service, Oracle is driving efforts in enhancing integration of Oracle Cloud ERP with Extended Warehouse Management. Advanced product features, mobile-ready solutions, and an easy-to-use interface are poised to provide total inventory visibility – from the distribution center to the store shelf.

ERP for digital success

As a majority of forward-thinking companies look to cater to audiences across new borders, markets, line of products, services, and customer segments, ERP solutions need to constantly innovate in order to help organizations meet the goals of tomorrow. The future roadmaps of today’s top three ERPs – Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, SAP S/4 HANA and Oracle ERP Cloud – reflect the philosophy of enhanced features and functionalities that are business-oriented, innovative, and practical across verticals. All three solutions are poised to offer features that focus on extending data, features and functionalities, as well as enable anytime, anywhere access to employees – via secure channels. No matter which ERP solution you choose, with improvements across several features and built-in applications, these modern ERPs are set to take user experience as well as organizational effectiveness a notch higher.

About the Author – Manoj Nair

Manoj Nair is a seasoned IT professional with over 15 years of experience in Software Consultancy, ERP Implementation, Testing, ISV Development and Client Management. He is Practice Lead – BPCS (Dynamics AX) at Synoptek and is responsible for managing various software programs through cross functional coordination.