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How to shop for ERP

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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Veeam passes $1bn, prepares for cloud’s ‘Act II’

Leader in cloud-data management reveals how it will harness the next growth phase of the data revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Veeam Software, the quiet leader in backup solutions for cloud data management,has announced that it has passed $1-billion in revenues, and is preparing for the next phase of sustained growth in the sector.

Now, it is unveiling what it calls Act II, following five years of rapid growth through modernisation of the data centre. At the VeeamON 2019conferencein Miami this week, company co-founder Ratmir Timashev declared that the opportunities in this new era, focused on managing data for the hybrid cloud, would drive the next phase of growth.

“Veeam created the VMware backup market and has dominated it as the leader for the last decade,” said Timashev, who is also executive vice president for sales and marketing at the organisation. “This was Veeam’s Act I and I am delighted that we have surpassed the $1 billion mark; in 2013 I predicted we’d achieve this in less than six years. 

“However, the market is now changing. Backup is still critical, but customers are now building hybrid clouds with AWS, Azure, IBM and Google, and they need more than just backup. To succeed in this changing environment, Veeam has had to adapt. Veeam, with its 60,000-plus channel and service provider partners and the broadest ecosystem of technology partners, including Cisco, HPE, NetApp, Nutanix and Pure Storage, is best positioned to dominate the new cloud data management in our Act II.”

In South Africa, Veeam expects similar growth. Speaking at the Cisco Connect conference in Sun City this week, country manager Kate Mollett told Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER that the company was doing exceptionally well in this market.

“In financial year 2018, we saw double-digit growth, which was really very encouraging if you consider the state of the economy, and not so much customer sentiment, but customers have been more cautious with how they spend their money. We’ve seen a fluctuation in the currency, so we see customers pausing with big decisions and hoping for a recovery in the Rand-Dollar. But despite all of the negatives, we have double digit growth which is really good. We continue to grow our team and hire.

“From a Veeam perspective, last year we were responsible for Veeam Africa South, which consisted of South Africa, SADC countries, and the Indian Ocean Islands. We’ve now been given the responsibility for the whole of Africa. This is really fantastic because we are now able to drive a single strategy for Africa from South Africa.”

Veeam has been the leading provider of backup, recovery and replication solutions for more than a decade, and is growing rapidly at a time when other players in the backup market are struggling to innovate on demand.

“Backup is not sexy and they made a pretty successful company out of something that others seem to be screwing up,” said Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst at Ovum, speaking in Miami after the VeeamOn conference. “Others have not invested much in new products and they don’t solve key challenges that most organisations want solved. Theyre resting on their laurels and are stuck in the physical world of backup instead of embracing the cloud.”

Illsley readily buys into the Veeam tagline. “It just works”. 

“They are very good at marketing but are also a good engineering comany that does produce the goods. Their big strength, that it just works, is a reliable feature they have built into their product portfolio.”

Veeam said in statement from the event that, while it had initially focused on server virtualisation for VMware environments, in recent years it had expanded this core offering. It was now delivering integration with multiple hypervisors, physical servers and endpoints, along with public and software-as-a-service workloads, while partnering with leading cloud, storage, server, hyperconverged (HCI) and application vendors.

This week, it  announced a new “with Veeam”program, which brings in enterprise storage and hyperconverged (HCI) vendors to provide customers with comprehensive secondary storage solutions that combine Veeam software with industry-leading infrastructure systems. Companies like ExaGrid and Nutanix have already announced partnerships.

Timashev said: “From day one, we have focused on partnerships to deliver customer value. Working with our storage and cloud partners, we are delivering choice, flexibility and value to customers of all sizes.”

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‘Energy scavenging’ funded

As the drive towards a 5G future gathers momentum, the University of Surrey’s research into technology that could power countless internet enabled devices – including those needed for autonomous cars – has won over £1M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry partners.

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has been working on triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), an energy harvesting technology capable of ‘scavenging’ energy from movements such as human motion, machine vibration, wind and vehicle movements to power small electronic components. 

TENG energy harvesting is based on a combination of electrostatic charging and electrostatic induction, providing high output, peak efficiency and low-cost solutions for small scale electronic devices. It’s thought such devices will be vital for the smart sensors needed to enable driverless cars to work safely, wearable electronics, health sensors in ‘smart hospitals’ and robotics in ‘smart factories.’ 

The ATI will be partnered on this development project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, QinetiQ, MAS Holdings, National Physical Laboratory, Soochow University and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and the principal investigator of the TENG project, said: “TENG technology is ideal to power the next generation of electronic devices due to its small footprint and capacity to integrate into systems we use every day. Here at the ATI, we are constantly looking to develop such advanced technologies leading towards our quest to realise worldwide “free energy”.

“TENGs are an ideal candidate to power the autonomous electronic systems for Internet of Things applications and wearable electronic devices. We believe this research grant will allow us to further the design of optimized energy harvesters.”

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