Not another technology prediction article!
You have likely read a few posts with a similar title lately as there are many ‘tech trend predictions’ happening at this time of year. But I wanted to narrow the scope a little bit with this article. I’ll focus on business software trends that I see continuing and more importantly accelerating into 2019, specifically around CRM and ERP systems.
Avoid the hype
The software industry loves a buzz word and will jump on any new acronym the moment it sprouts from a tech journalists mind, unfortunately many trends, predictions and buzz words are usually always over hyped and rarely impact the everyday business scene.
In terms of CRM and ERP software there are rarely any massive leaps of change. Rather there are small incremental changes that overtime shape the direction of the software. These changes are nearly always directed by the marketplace, by end users like you and me who want more functionality or a better experience when using the systems day-to-day.
So how do you avoid the hype when comparing business software systems? Take a close look at the functionality and ask yourself ‘Is this something that will benefit my business’. Will that new ‘predictive analytics engine’ help my day to day operations? Or is the ‘improved bank reconciliation’ a more important feature.
With all that in mind, you still want to ensure your CRM and ERP systems are constantly evolving and improving. Stagnant software is not good software.
Rise of the machines, or rather the AI assistant
One of the biggest software buzz terms of 2018 is “AI” or “Artificial Intelligence”. This has been used and abused in nearly every software post I’ve read this year. So is AI going to be a part of the business software landscape in 2019? Short answer is Yes. But maybe not to the extent we dream of.
AI in everyday business CRM and ERP systems is a much tamer version of the Sci-Fi AI we have been told about, however, software developers are still putting big money behind the development of AI and they mostly come in the form of an ‘AI Assistant’. These virtual assistants allows users to ask humanised questions about their business data and are fed back analytics or reporting. AI assistants can also provide more intuitive search functions as well as provide quick insight and trend analysis.
An example of how AI is playing a part in the CRM space is Zohos AI assistant ‘Zia’. Zia made her first appearance in Zoho CRM this year, but Zoho have already begun to expand her functionality and will continue to be a focus in 2019.
Security lock down
Cyber security has been a focus for software system for many years and with the quick uptake of cloud systems cyber security will continue to be in the spotlight in 2019.
Businesses are ‘waking’ up to the realisation that it is their responsibility to keep sensitive data safe. Importantly the introduction of the GDPR legislation and closer to home the Notifiable Data Breach Scheme now enforce businesses who experience a cyber security incident need to report the event and the ensure they treat sensitive data the in the appropriate way.
Because of this new legislation systems are now providing stronger and more effective security options into their software and in most cases features such as two-factor authentication are mandatory. These types of enhanced security features will continue to expand into 2019 and should be an important factor when evaluating new CRM and ERP systems.
With the advent of cloud technology we now have a situation where businesses are signing up to multiple systems that handle a specific function and then turning to integration options via API to link them together. (API is simply a method that allows two separate software systems to communicate with each other)
Another connective technology that will continue to accelerate into 2019 is Web hooks. Web hooks are a much similar way to bridge systems than an API, but are not as powerful. They are quick to setup and require little to no programming knowledge. Need a workflow in your CRM that creates a sales order in your ERP? A Web hook could be answer!
Having a web of connected systems has its pros and cons and is a topic that we have covered before. Pushing forward into 2019 this type of inter-application connectivity is not going away and is only going to get easier and simpler to connect our cloud software systems.
If a system does not provide a fast, easy and reliable way to connect its functions and data sets to other systems it will quickly become redundant. My simple advice when looking a new ERP or CRM system in 2019? Make sure it has a proven and robust API!