Regardless of what business you happen to be in, the end of the year is a natural time to reflect on what’s happened in our lives, our organisations and around the world. Although the global manufacturing sector has shown erratic and generally slow performance this year, the economic powerhouses of the US and China managed to register slight improvements in manufacturing activity in October. However, many other economies around the world suffered further contraction or flat growth across their manufacturing industries.
From SYSPRO’s perspective, we were interested to see a European Commission (EU) study analyzing the important role small-and medium-sized enterprises play in creating more and better jobs. According to the analysis, 85% of net new jobs in the EU between 2002 and 2010 were created by small- and medium-sized enterprises. The study also showed that new firms (younger than five years) are responsible for an overwhelming majority of the new jobs.
On this more positive note, I have used the opportunity to take stock of SYSPRO’s position and future direction, much as I’m sure you do at this time of the year. SYSPRO continues to keep track of what’s going on in business and the implications for our customers to help us forecast future trends and potential demands for our products and services.
By listening to our customers, we have picked up on a number of trends, one of which is how people are using social network platforms like Facebook and Twitter to access information and engage with companies. While some enterprises are finding it difficult to determine the tangible benefits of being active on these platforms, we have found that LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, as well as the SYSPRO blog have proved effective in increasing involvement with our customers and providing them with unique insights into our market and software.
The potential offered by optimizing the mobile trend is increasingly being discussed at boardroom level, and analysts are predicting that 2013 will be the year of mobile applications. If you consider the manufacturing environment, the value of the mobile device lies in the aggregation of information. A person on the factory floor can input data that can provide invaluable feedback when it comes to order processing and any possible delays in customer fulfillment.
Software is also changing to become optimized for touch devices, particularly with the recent release of Windows 8. With the touch interface set to be the norm for the next few years, we can expect tablets to become more than just personal and entertainment devices.
Another growing trend is collaboration and sharing. In the past, SYSPRO forums were used as a great repository of information for customers and staff. Everything from troubleshooting to tips and tricks was discussed and shared between members across the world. Unfortunately, there was no interface to connect these elements and allow people to publish applications in a way that could solve the problems and share the solutions with others more quickly.
Enter the SYSPRO App store. Through this, we are providing our customers and partners with the opportunity to engage with one another and develop workable solutions that solve their specific problems, while at the same time making the same solutions available for people anywhere in the world to download.
The era of collaboration is here and enterprises need to realize that they have to embrace this changing dynamic to become part of this business evolution. While it might require a cultural shift, the long-term benefits will far outweigh the initial resistance. As I discussed in another article, businesses do adopt new practices and technologies, but it takes time.
Finally, please look out for the launch of SYSPRO 7 in 2013, when we will deliver on some of the trends we have been forecasting.