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Greig Codd  examines how an ERP system can harness the Internet of Things and capitalise on edge computing.

With IDC forecasting that worldwide spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to reach a staggering $772 billion in 2018, up 14.6% on last year, it’s safe to say that IoT is here to stay. Add to this the fact that Gartner estimates more than 8.4 billion ‘things’ are on the internet today, and it’s highly unlikely that at least some of your business devices aren’t connected to IoT. While there’s much discussion about the amount of revenue opportunities that come about thanks to the data that’s generated via IoT, in reality, most data goes to waste. For many businesses, the biggest challenge they face is making sense of these swathes of data, with over-whelming pressure to turn this data into valuable business insight.

What more and more businesses are discovering is that by integrating their ERP systems with IoT they can make sense of a vast amount of the data that they’re faced with on a daily basis, better connecting not only data but people, processes and things, to optimise processes, improve decision-making and open up new revenue streams. However, research shows that very few companies are using IoT data within their ERP systems, highlighting the fact that most businesses haven’t yet integrated IoT with ERP, leaving them at a real disadvantage when it comes to maximising the results they get from their IT investments and infrastructure.

ERP integration

For many, the sheer volume of data coming from IoT is an issue in itself, and they find the prospect of integrating IoT with their ERP system a daunting one. In reality, the effort involved in integrating the two is far outweighed by the multiple benefits and ROI of doing so. Facilitating two-way communication between your ERP solution and all your IoT-connected devices can make the difference between stealing a march on the competition or not, using this data to garner vital, real-time information across all operations and all business functions for ultimate business agility.

By following an incremental approach to integration, taking full advantage of the in-built IoT support that leading software vendors and suppliers now provide, businesses can derive optimum value from the data that IoT holds, using ERP solutions to turn raw data into actionable business insight. And, rather than trying to integrate all data all at once, it’s much more manageable to identify which business problems or issues you’re trying to solve, using the data from specific connected devices to address these. Knowing what to prioritise and which strategic questions to ask of your data is the key to getting additional value from both your ERP system and IoT.

 On the edge 

When it comes to deriving this additional value, not only is it crucial to ensure the connections between IoT and your ERP are safe and secure, but the need for instantaneous connection and communication of devices often makes edge computing the most efficient choice for businesses, particularly in industries where immediacy is key. Edge computing allows data produced by IoT devices to be processed closer to where it’s created instead of sending it across long routes to data centres or to the cloud. Doing this closer to the edge of the network means that organisations can analyse important data in real time.

In particular, with more and more data generated by mobile or field-based devices or sensors, edge computing leverages resources that might not be continuously connected to a network or a central cloud, or devices that have poor connectivity, ensuring that information from right across the business is taken into account when it comes to developing a true, holistic picture of the business.

The perfect partnership

ERP solutions are at their best, and undoubtedly their most valuable, when pulling together information from across the business, making full use of company-wide data to inform and underpin strategy and timely decision-making, as well as day-to-day operations. The combination of the IoT, an ERP solution and edge computing maximises not only the amount of data that’s amalgamated, analysed and contextualised in real time, but the quality of data too. What results is comprehensive, accurate and real-time insight into the business that cannot be replicated or underestimated. Now is the time to get fully integrated, optimising your infrastructure to secure that all-important ROI and lay the foundations for strategic business growth.

For more information on how Sapphire can help your business optimise its IT integration strategy, contact us today.

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