Digital technology improves every single day, offering new functionality, advanced capabilities around automation and the ability to access and analyze endless amounts of data. Data forensics and what we learned about AI just a couple years ago is pretty much outdated.
So how does one stay current? There are technology conferences and meetings in every city nearly every month of the year, there are endless articles and blogs and anyone who has ever touched a piece of technology or used a software program has an opinion. For example, many of the industry’s top thought leaders speak at the annual Digital Stratosphere conference year.
So, who do you trust and how do you know you are staying up to date? Here are a few ideas:
Find digital technology expertise per specific area of focus
No single person or firm can be an expert on everything. There is no such thing as a one-stop-shop in technology anymore. You have ERP vendors who are good at what they do, but you don’t necessarily want them building your web portal. ERP system integrators can handle technical implementations but should not be handling your data security and your help desk should not be answering questions on robotics. The key is to reach in the direction of expertise when educating yourself in a particular field.
Consider the agenda of those providing you digital technology education
Any ERP vendor will share best practices, but those best practices they preach are only those that adhere to their particular system. There may be a better way of doing things for your organization and whoever is telling you what to do probably has their interests lined ahead of yours. This is where the help of proven ERP consultants can help.
The best way around this is to reach across a variety of experts in the same field. In doing so you will find areas of commonality or standard practice, and you will find a variety of unique offerings that could be considered more leading edge. When looking for marketing automation years ago there were only a few vendors providing automated data-fill through web integration, but now this is a common practice enabled by a range of providers.
Look for proven digital technologies
Unless you are lecturing on emerging technologies, look for case studies of technology advancements that are currently being used. In the previous example we considered that some vendors will have one-of-a-kind offerings, but this may not always be a good thing. Many providers will tout potential application for things like blockchain that are good in theory but have yet to be tested. It’s exciting to see what’s coming and what may be possible, but if you are shopping on behalf of an organization make sure the solutions you are finding are proven.
Consider the cost impact of digital technologies
You can do nearly anything you want with digital technologies and many leading companies are touting their use of advanced analytics, block-chain, etc. All this exciting new stuff comes with a cost, so be sure that your research includes a degree of realism. This should be built into your ERP business case.
Ask for guidance
You could Google technology educational topics until the end of time and still have more to learn. Consider a trusted independent ERP advisor to help guide you in the right direction. Your consultant may have expertise in a number of areas but certainly not all of them. Be careful of falling trap to some of the larger firms that claim to do it all, and find a partner who is open to making referrals where needed and can align with your best interests.