By: Rick Carlton
In Gartner’s Top-10 Strategic Tech Trends, the research firm offers reasonable glimpses into what direct or indirect impacts may be relevant to the future of industrial operations, and particularly ERP. These trends are largely driven by three discrete themes:
“…intelligent, digital, and mesh. (Each of) these technologies are just beginning to break out of an emerging state, and stand to have substantial disruptive potential across industries.”
Consequently, and with the end of the year closing in, we thought we’d apply Gartner’s trend thinking to our own, in hopes of seeing next year a bit more clearly. Here’s what we came up with.
1. Machine learning
Following up on Gartner’s thinking, as a practical value the concept of machine learning has made great strides over the last couple of years. For example:
“The combination of extensive parallel processing power, advanced algorithms and massive data sets to feed the algorithms has unleashed this new era.”
At the same time, during the last several years complex ERP systems have also evolved to become more like comprehensive factory ‘control managers’. Consequently, Gartner’s thinking would seem to be a perfectly reasonable assertion. For example, Emerson-Syncade’s IAS95 integrated system for process manufacturers suggests a baseline framework that could easily lend itself toward immediate use as a ‘machine learned’[ process constellation.
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2. Augmented reality
In the same ways that the potential of machine learning may apply to ERP, the integration of augmented reality devices, controlled and managed by core ERP systems, also apply.
As we discussed in 2016, “…ERP and (the) IoT matrix is…largely driven by sensor technologies… and numerous middleware-integrated augmented reality devices that serve as interpreters of sensor data. Once activity from these devices is identified, subsequent data can…ultimately reside in one or more ERP modules for further action.”
A recent example here can be seen in the first-generation of “smart glasses” being applied in futurist manufacturing operations. The process chain is triggered by integrated man/machine activity which is, in turn, converted into data, that ultimately resolves into machine efficiency information on an ERP platform. Once the upstream loop is complete, final results are passed back down to an operator’s helmet display in real-time.
As one can see, this particular Gartner ‘guess’ has already morphed to become more than just a simple wild assertion. Expect more of these kinds of integrated smart device/smart software elements to come to the fore as the months flow forward.
3. Mesh networking and adaptive security
While not going into the deep detail, the concept of mesh-based networking simply means that “…systems do not use text/voice as an exclusive interface but enable people and machines to use multiple modalities (e.g., sight, sound, tactile, etc.) to communicate across a digital device mesh (e.g., sensors, appliances, IoT systems).” Consequently, as communications systems become ‘smarter’, these devices by their very nature will become more sentient-like, due to increase activity across larger and larger mesh networks.
From an ERP perspective, over time one should also expect increased ‘smartness’ due to interaction with these devices and mesh networks. In turn this evolution will ultimately allow for greater production and resources management autonomy over time.
So there you go. What do you think are going to be the most impressive ERP technologies going into 2018? Feel free to let us know.