Keywords: QAD, On Demand, Cloud, ERP, Mobility, Business Process Management, BPM, QAD Explore.
At the recent QAD Explore Conference in San Antonio, QAD president and founder, Pam Lopker, delivered a thought-provoking, futuristic keynote address entitled, "The Building Blocks of an Effective Enterprise." This nicely conveyed the importance of adapting to rapidly changing technologies. QAD's concept of the Effective Enterprise manifests itself when a customer has every business process working at peak efficiency and perfectly aligned to their strategic goals.
A sub-theme was that many disruptive technologies seem to occur all of a sudden but, in reality, it often takes decades before the earliest manifestations of a new concept reach the point where they can have a major impact. To drive home the point, a QAD developer joined Ms. Lopker on stage wearing an Emotiv wireless EEG headset. He then proceeded to interact with an application using only his thoughts. He controlled the movement of the cursor (up, down, left, right, push, pull) to select requested items and "accept" or "reject" them using pushbuttons. It's clear that this technology isn't ready for this kind of commercial use, but that wasn't the point of the exercise.
It takes a bit of training and practice to use the EEG headset, and loud noises or other distractions interfere with the process. But even with all of today's limitations, suddenly the whole audience could see that this technology will continue to evolve and, at some point, become commonplace for certain kinds of human-to-machine interactions. What interactions? No one knows, but it is good for a company to be thinking about such things today, because the future is coming faster and faster.
On Demand Driving Growth
Though it still represents only a small percentage of QAD's revenue, software-as-a-service deployment is a big growth driver. In this case, QAD hosts and supports the applications used by their On Demand customers. The company has a dedicated group looking after its customers on the cloud. Separate from the normal service support, this group makes sure that everything runs smoothly and that the company meets the agreed upon service levels for its SaaS customers.
Manufacturers Want BPM
QAD customers indicated that business process management is a key area of interest for them. It aligns perfectly with the "effective enterprise" theme, and was definitely a hot topic at the event. With integrated BPM tools, companies can automate processes and reduce the overall execution time dramatically. Even business processes as simple as approvals or adding new items can have a number of sequential steps that need to happen. In many cases, the calendar time for completing these processes can be reduced from typical completion time of weeks to hours or minutes. Because the workflow is automated, established processes tend to be followed, and things don't tend to slip through the cracks.
Mobility Is Hot
Another area of keen interest to QAD customers is mobility solutions and BYOD (bring your own device). QAD CTO, Tony Winter, conducted a heavily attended session entitled "The Power of Mobile." Customers got an overview of what it takes to develop and implement a mobile strategy. Topics included mobile device policies, security policies, mobile device management, and going mobile with apps. Deep-dive sessions were also available.
ARC Advisory Group recommends that manufacturers become "information-driven" to be able to compete effectively in today's dynamic marketplace. As can be seen from the above examples drawn from QAD Explore 2013, QAD is addressing the needs of information-driven manufacturers with the company's current product as well as in its vision for the future.
Some of the characteristics of information driven manufacturers include:
Information-driven companies have a bias toward making decisions based on process and business process data. They typically employ software to collect, contextualize, visualize, and analyze the data. Information-driven companies have resources to manage IT systems but they are also exploring new ways to access computing resources, so cloud computing is an important part of any IT discussion.
Information-driven companies put information at their employees' fingertips. They recognize that smartphones and tablets are a necessary and important tool for many workers, and make the necessary investments in mobility platforms to extend all applications to employee devices. In addition, they give employees access to new analytical, social, visualization, and other new technologies at their devices so they can be highly productive and make better, more informed decisions. Workers are also supported by intelligent training and assistance systems.
Information-driven companies collaborate. Their systems and business processes are well integrated within the enterprise, and they connect and share and information with partners in a real-time ecosystem. This collaboration also extends to social technologies and communities, which can be a good source for marketplace inputs throughout the lifecycle of a product or service.
All signed-in ARC Advisory Group clients can view this report in pdf format at this Link
If you would like to buy this report or obtain information about how to become a client, please Request ARC Info