Next-Gen Automation: Top Trends transforming the Future of Cloud ERP in 2024

Mar 07, 2024
Infor | 5 min READ
Innovations in cloud-based ERP are making enterprise hyper-automation a reality. Here are the key trends driving this shift and how businesses will benefit from them in the coming years.
Ravindra Kabbur
Ravindra Kabbur

Sr Solution Architect



Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have emerged as increasingly powerful tools for orchestrating business processes across various functions at scale. The birth of cloud-based ERP only cemented its criticality in the enterprise technology stack.
Since ERPs drive some of the most critical processes within finance, accounting, procurement, manufacturing, and supply chain, automation is one of the most powerful levers to maximize process efficiency at scale.
However, approaches to ERP automation have evolved significantly over the last decade. While some challenges remain, innovations in Cloud ERP solutions are rewriting the art of the possible in enterprise automation. Read the article to learn about the key trends driving this shift and how they are rewriting strategies for competing in this changing ERP landscape.
Enterprise Automation: Then and Now
Early attempts at ERP automation began with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools. Organizations typically integrated these tools with the ERP deployment and facilitated rule-based automation. RPA was difficult to scale, and required significant maintenance efforts as the scripts would break with minor changes in the underlying ERP processes.
Soon enough, new technologies like Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) helped enhance the value proposition of RPA in ERP automation. As ERP deployments moved to the cloud, integrating these technologies and prototyping automation use cases became slightly easier. Nonetheless, automating ERP processes remains a challenging affair.
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Key challenges underpinning enterprise automation today
  • Use of point solutions that automate a few tasks within a process but contribute to the tool sprawl and increase maintenance efforts.
  • Difficulty in scaling automated processes that employ different technologies like AI, IDP, and/or RPA.
  • Inability to keep automation deployments functional when business processes evolve or undergo minor changes.
  • Reliance on vendors other than the ERP provider for sourcing automation capabilities adds to the cost and vendor complexity.
  • High time-to-value because of the amount of development effort and time required for building automations for a handful of processes.
  • Low return on investment (RoI) as partial automation yields only marginal efficiency and productivity improvements.
The changing rules of ERP automation
A key value proposition of Cloud ERPs is the pace at which vendors make innovative capabilities available to their customers. Enterprise automation has long been the endgame for technology leaders because of the value potential that automation holds in ERP deployments. Accordingly, leading ERP vendors are beginning to recognize this ask.
4 key automation trends transforming the future of Cloud ERP and ushering a new paradigm of ERP automation.
#1. Native availability of automation capabilities
While enterprises sourced automation capabilities from third parties or ERP marketplaces, vendors are now making them available natively within their ERP environments. These capabilities span solutions for automating both frontend and backend process flows and AI for automating decisions.
With this shift, automating end-to-end processes like cross-system data capture and storage and customer service flows is becoming faster, easier, and more intuitive. Vendors like Infor are arming business users with the ability to implement automation with low/no-code approaches and embedding these solutions into their core ERP environment – therefore eliminating the need to build and maintain integrations unless automation spans multiple enterprise systems.
#2. Industry-specific automation content
Until now, automating ERP processes required the expertise of developers, industry experts, and ERP specialists. This raised the entry barrier for automating ERP processes. However, with the availability of industry-specific content, ERP automation is becoming accessible to all businesses.
ERP vendors now offer out-of-the-box process templates targeted at various industries and micro-verticals. This trend makes vertical-specific ERPs like Infor all the more lucrative for businesses, as the vendor offers an extensive library of industry-specific automation content that works with their ERP and other cloud ERPs.
#3. Embedded AI drives automated decisioning
The inability to automate tasks that required decision-making proved a value-eroding bottleneck in process automation. For example, in document data capture workflows, businesses typically relied on different vendors for IDP, automation, and API management. However, this is set to change in the coming year as AI capabilities become more readily accessible within native automation-building environments.
This will allow business users to create functional AI models with a no-code approach and embed them within automated workflows. As a result, processes that previously required human intervention can now run on autopilot. Some examples include order creation, freight selection, invoicing workflows, and proof-of-delivery.
#4. Shrinking gap between attended and unattended execution
The above factors are collectively blurring the difference in outcomes attainable with attended and unattended execution. As AI is leveraged for making decisions within automated processes, it will become possible to employ unattended bots in workflows involving human interactions.
Over time, these AI models will become more intelligent, reducing the number of exceptional cases and thus driving up the ROI of enterprise automation.
ERP Automation: Key impact areas
These trends spell a new era of ERP automation – where high-value use cases will be available extensively to big and small-sized businesses. This democratized access will level the playing field but also result in significant benefits for businesses:
  • Greater efficiency and productivity gains with the ability to automate processes end-to-end.
  • Faster time to value as the time taken to build and scale use cases will shrink to a fraction of today’s standards.
  • Reduced risk and uncertainty as prototyped use-cases will be available out-of-the-box, and scaling successful ones will become easier.
Finally, low-code automation capabilities and composable application development will empower business users to attain their end goals within fewer iterations and arm them with the ability to orchestrate digital business in alignment with their vision.
What’s next?
Cloud ERPs have become the lifeblood of digital businesses. Likewise, enterprise hyper-automation ushered by the above trends will touch every key aspect, including the customer and employee experience, operational costs, and efficiency. At the same time, the importance of selecting the right ERP vendor has shot up as well. Businesses that run on ERP platforms from more innovative vendors like Infor will have a significant strategic advantage over their peers.
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