Part 6 of “Cloud-Driven Competitive Advantage” series

Small and midsize businesses may have a lot more in common with large enterprises than they think. Companies of all sizes can face a lack of data-driven insights when making decisions and identifying potential opportunities and risks. They could be challenged with tedious, manual processes that slow employees down and impede cash flow. Or perhaps new requirements are pushing the limits of existing IT solutions and tools.

While the challenges and goals may be similar, there doesn’t seem to be a standard path to digital transformation, especially in the cloud. A recent IDC InfoBrief “Using Cloud Capabilities for Competitive Advantage: How Small and Midsize Companies Worldwide Are Adopting Cloud Technology to Meet Key Business Goals,” sponsored by SAP, reported that small and midsize businesses are investing in the cloud for a variety of reasons – from increasing internal efficiencies and strengthening external engagement to analyzing data and driving enterprise connectivity.

Often, business owners and leaders want to know if there’s one predefined road map to widespread cloud adoption. Unfortunately, there isn’t one right answer – every firm faces a unique set of underlying conditions and circumstances that impact the ultimate digital vision.

ERP and the digital core: A match made for the cloud

As shown in IDC’s research, most small and midsize companies invest in line-of-business point solutions to address current objectives. But as more solutions are introduced into the cloud landscape, firms unintentionally increase technology and process complexity, create information silos, and deliver poor-quality data.

cloud application adoption

Firms can avoid such risks by establishing a digital core with a next-generation ERP solution and then determining which functional capabilities should be adopted. Take, for example, a customer relationship management (CRM) system, which is a regular starting place for cloud migrations. Unless that application is connected to a digital core, organizations will realize that their applications – CRM as well as finance, HR, supply chain, and others – cannot meet new challenges in the market due to latent processing, redundant information, or siloed intelligence.

By implementing an ERP-driven digital core, companies can better position themselves to instantly acquire the technology, insight, processes, and culture required to grow their capabilities and expand their business. My best recommendation is to first choose one functional area or resource that is heavily impacting business performance. Some companies, for instance, may choose an HR component to improve recruitment, onboarding, and talent development. Others may decide to provide their field sales agents with secure mobile access to client information and updates. Even a few may elect to turn on supplier relationship management functionality to make vendor relationships more productive and accountable.

The business can reassess needs routinely to identify new opportunities to take on additional capabilities in other areas. This path not only helps the firm scale its digital transformation to address challenges immediately, but it also ignites change at a time when the workforce is able and willing to embrace it. Plus, the approach is economical because ERP solutions are usually priced according to the capabilities in use, not the entire suite.

Economical, fast, and efficient: The hallmarks of an ERP digital core in the cloud

A clear, value-add approach to the cloud allows small and midsize businesses to reach their peak performance through:

  • Outstanding value at a compelling price: An integrated cloud foundation enables fast development and adoption of software innovations that can prepare employees for the future – all at a reasonable subscription price.
  • Fast-track the ideal transformation engine: Rapid implementation provides quick, tangible, potential advantages, while intuitive configuration options and innovative Web features provide built-in learning, service, and support functions.
  • More freedom to excel: Efficient adaptation to new industry demands and activities without disrupting ongoing operations helps companies stay a step ahead of the competition.
  • Greater transparency across business areas: Anytime, anywhere access to uniform, centralized data can help decision makers identify market trends and opportunities earlier and, as a result, make prudent decisions.
  • Fast, efficient adjustments: Quick adaptation and expansion of business processes do not require additional costly IT support.

By leveraging these benefits of an ERP-driven digital core as the foundation of the cloud, firms can create enduring customer relationships, accelerate innovation, and optimize processes at the right time and scale – all essential capabilities for current and future success.

Find out how cloud technology is helping firms achieve their strategic goals and become a disruptive force in the marketplace. Read the IDC InfoBrief “Using Cloud Capabilities for Competitive Advantage: How Small and Midsize Companies Worldwide Are Adopting Cloud Technology to Meet Key Business Goals,” sponsored by SAP. And don’t forget to check every Tuesday for new installments to our blog series “Cloud-Driven Competitive Advantage” to explore the possibilities for your business.

Blog originally published on the Digitalist Magazine