ERP Social Collaboration Gathers Pace

We are beginning to see social collaboration spreading toward business environments. Since most business users of ERP systems are familiar with the processes present in social network tools, this is hardly surprising. We connect with experts in our field through LinkedIn. We connect with acquaintances using Facebook. It is a natural progression to take these social principles and apply them to how we collaborate with our colleagues through our enterprise systems including ERP.

The past couple of years have seen a whole host of trends in ERP software; analytics, self-service, mobile. These trends have sparked reactions from major vendors with the rapid release of new functionality. We are now beginning to see the same in ERP social collaboration with releases in the past six months from the likes of Infor and VAI competing with more established collaboration tools such as SAP’s JAM.

Mingling with the Social Crowd

Launched in April of this year, Infor’s Ming.le aims to improve ERP workflow by allowing employees to find the right person quickly and easily. It captures knowledge that might be lost in a flow of emails and IMs and builds a social graph so all can see who is connected to whom, and what projects they are working on. Infor Ming.le also integrates ERP social collaboration with contextual analytics, allowing employees to *react to ERP data by collaborating with the appropriate groups on a solution.

The real test with social collaboration tools such as this is buy-in from users. Your employees are happy with their email inbox, they have used it for decades. When one employee wants to collaborate exclusively through legacy methods, all the bells and whistles in the world won’t lead to *ROI for these ERP social collaboration tools.

Socially Smart

Another new player to the ERP social collaboration market is VAI. The company recently launched its S2K Smart Center which blends ERP with modern social tools through customizable user interfaces. These aim to make it easy to interact with fellow employees through the system. This method of promoting social collaboration within ERP through the customizable user interface, something that VAI’s solution shares with Infor’s Ming.le, may help to achieve buy-in from users due to reduced training times and the targeted nature of the functionality.

When a method of communication is altered within a business, there will always be friction. Managers won’t like the *financial and time costs of training. Employees will long for the familiarity of legacy methods. What you have to remember is that one of the primary values of ERP is that it is a common communication medium for a lot of our business information and if the delivery improves, we are all better off.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller