Since ERP systems are the glue that combines all departments within an organization, innovations that they introduce can have a huge influence on a company’s profitability. From AI bots that use natural language to interface with customers to manufacturing systems that customize on the fly and warehouse systems that can plan goods in close proximity based on predictions of future orders, there are key updates to ERP systems that can have a huge impact on a company’s success.


Here are nine capabilities to watch for in 2019.

Virtual assistants

Chatbots will respond to internal and external inquiries regarding invoices and payment requests. Already used by call center agents to recommend answers to clients’ questions and make upsell and cross-sell suggestions, chatbots can help automate the 6500 hours per year that most businesses spend chasing invoice exceptions, discrepancies and errors.

Cargo sensors

Global supply chain managers will use sensors to track the exact location of ships, containers, and trucks and to adjust routes if necessary, to save fuel costs, check for potential theft, and to protect sensitive cargo due to extreme weather conditions.

Smart warehouses

AI will be used to determine how to lay out a new warehouse, improve the design of an existing warehouse, update picking methods, or optimize staffing levels for busy seasons.

Mobility on the shop floor

Mobile apps will be the ‘must-have’ tools to respond to real-time production changes. Immediate mobile access on the shop floor will enable users to handle production line problems as they occur, reducing downtime and wasted materials. Using mobile apps, line managers can ensure production schedules are on target and issue maintenance requests, on-the-job instructions and even track materials in real-time even when they are off-site. Supervisors can receive alerts and notifications on change work orders and the latest information about product availability to avert problems before they happen.

Automated purchasing agents

AI agents can operate on behalf of the buyers to locate potential deals, automatically and anonymously negotiate towards the best terms based on the parameters set and market conditions. Once a contract is signed, the system will monitor supplier performance and request corrective actions if cost, quality or delivery KPIs are missed. Humans will only need to get involved if a supplier fails to respond.

Financial management

Bots will automate monthly, quarterly and year-end processes, compare account balances between various independent systems and verify statements and reports for accuracy. Using machine learning, bots will learn from different human input to make better judgments and adapt to the behaviour patterns of different accounting professionals.

Human resources

Talent acquisition software will scan, read, and evaluate applicants with the ability to eliminate the majority of them from the recruiting process. By determining who should get a raise or who might be dissatisfied with the life-work balance, AI systems can be proactive and solve the problem of employee churn before it happens.

Customer service

When a customer requires field service, an AI solution can use knowledge about the required skill set, employees’ qualifications, performance evaluations and required parts to assist with the planning and scheduling of service calls.

Sales automation

AI can be introduced early in the sales process by pulling in the oceans of data from outside the organization to help reps build comprehensive profiles of their targets. In addition, customer engagements for inside sales can be fully automated, conducting basic sales triage, such as information gathering, initial qualification and segmentation, and real-time response handling.

Technology is increasing the speed of business to keep pace with today’s demanding customers. The innovation introduced through holistic systems like ERP that are the backbone of business can bring about positive change from the first sales call to the shop floor. The basic building blocks are already here and new applications and services will come to life next year to improve profitability and the customer experience.