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How to shop for ERP

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Companies are always under pressure to keep up with changing markets. In order to do this, they need the right ERP system. THABO NDLELA, non-executive Director at IFS provides a checklist for businesses to consider when looking for an ERP vendor.

No matter if you develop business software, cars or washing machines, companies face relentless pressure to enable new business opportunities and user experiences. But as important as it is to keep pace with the demands of a changing market, companies need to follow a safe and cost efficient path to innovation.

The right enterprise application suite can provide a robust platform for innovation, so that companies can benefit from new technologies, business models and user experiences over time with a low and competitive total cost of ownership (TCO). For most companies, enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the most important technology they will implement to run their business.

The trick is, knowing how to choose the right one and what will help you succeed.

Questions you should ask a vendor

When considering which ERP solution to choose, asking your prospective vendor these 10 questions as a helpful starting point:

1.    Does the software appeal to today’s workers? You need a user experience that is attractive, intuitive and efficient for any type of user within your company.

2.    Is the software easy and efficient to modify and maintain? Can you to tailor it to fit your specific needs over time in a way that doesn’t impede upgrading to the latest release to benefit from new features?

3.    Does the software enable modular implementation? Choose software built on components that allow you to choose only the ones you need, and add new ones as you need them.

4.    Can the software be implemented as a global, single-instance application? This will let you reduce complexity and cost while providing insights and analysis at a much faster speed.

5.    Is there a non-disruptive upgrade capability available? An ERP system shouldn’t be seen as a one-off software implementation, but as a platform – a technology strategy – for business innovation over time.

6.    Can the software be extended as business demands change? A modern ERP system should offer a layered application architecture that facilitates the development and management of different types of code changes such as localisations, customisations and configurations.

7.    Does the software provide different deployment options? Consider your need for a software solution that enables full-suite deployment or deployment as either the backbone or point-solution for key processes in a two-tier application strategy that embraces the cloud and on-premises solutions.

8.    Can you, as the customer, influence product development? Your preferred vendor should have an agile development approach where product requirements are collected and prioritised in close collaboration with industry specialists in the customer base.

9.    Does the vendor’s R&D organisation include a workspace to drive disruptive innovation? Conceptual products and prototypes will not always result in a launched product for various reasons, and that’s the purpose of prototyping. Ask the software vendor how they work with the innovation selection and development process.

10. Are you offered references to customers using the evaluated software package? Ask for customer reference calls and site visits to learn from other customers’ experiences of implementing and using the software, including their experiences of collaborating with the vendor’s implementation staff, product development department and partners.

Selecting and deploying the right business software is an important and strategic decision for any company. A starting approach such as the one I’ve outlined works very well for our customers. It can work well for you, too.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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