Three ways Big Data can make a difference to your ERP

Around the world today there is software watching Google, Facebook, and every other similar website.  There are sensors of all types tracking where your cell phone is at any moment in time and where your automobile is too through license plate identification systems.  Recently I saw that the new highway billboards can change the advertisements based on the age of the vehicles passing by at that particular moment.  This is Big Data – a huge amount of unstructured data that we can use to predict future behaviors.  

How can we use Big Data to make a difference in our ERP systems?

1. Improved forecasts

We all know that any forecast is wrong.  Regardless of the effort and sophistication that we put into the forecast, it is obsolete immediately after we use it.  ERP depends on that forecast for planning purchasing and production.  The CFOs among us use forecasts to plan investments in new technology and equipment. By harnessing Big Data and using it to improve the forecasts of today we can narrow the chance of an unreliable prediction.

2. Better quality assurance

Much of today’s quality assurance in our ERP depends on internal testing and the controls we use to minimize the chance that yesterday’s problems will come back.  We also depend on customer feedback, but that is not a reliable indicator. 

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Customers will complain when something is perceived as wrong but rarely let us know when things are right.  Big Data does not depend on actual directed feedback.  We now can “listen” to postings on many websites where people comment and might not even be aware that big brother is listening.  If we can use that “ear”, we can model our ERP quality systems to avoid problems that have not yet been documented as problems and enhance our products at the same time.

3. Prospecting for new customers

Rather than salespeople cold-calling prospect we have a new tool.  No more ads with return-mail cards attached either.  By paying attention to conversations about our product and our industry, we can mine the internet for customers we never imagined we might win.  We could find a comment from a country on the other side of the globe where someone from a business we could not have on our radar that they would like a product exactly like ours but no one they are aware of sells what they want.  It is nice to sell in our neighborhood.  We can think about expanding our neighborhood to include all the billions of people and millions of businesses wherever they happen to be.

The possibilities are almost limitless already.  How will you use Big Data to make a difference in your ERP?

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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

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Tom Miller

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