As a digital marketer, I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about what's next in the technology space. In fact, I just got back from SXSW, so I've got plenty to mull over for days (you can read my initial takeaways from the festival here.)
While there was lots of cool tech on display in Austin last week, from the McDonald's self-service ordering board to the virtual reality gear I tried out, there's another side of the tech world that doesn't get nearly as much attention. And yet, it's hugely important to the businesses that develop these and other products.
What am I referring to? It's the technology that's at work behind the scenes of these big companies every day, helping them run efficiently, fulfill orders quickly, and project their costs and revenue accurately. Just as importantly, these technology systems help businesses grow and scale.
That includes Financial System Management, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Business Process Management (BPM) software, for example. TGO, a financial systems consulting company, is an expert in this technology, having provided businesses with customized software solutions for nearly 30 years.
Most people aren't terribly familiar with how these platforms work or why they're important. But ERP, BPM, and other business software systems can mean the difference between success and failure for mid-size to large companies. Here are a few reasons why.
As businesses grow, communication becomes more complex.
When a startup, for example, makes the jump from being just a couple of founders to having multiple departments, the business processes that used to work for them have to change. They can't rely on being able to walk over to marketing to define campaign goals, or to finance to remind them about pulling third-quarter financials. They can't be sure they'll be able to handle purchasing orders on a one-by-one, manual basis.
This is where ERP comes in. These software systems help businesses automate many of their business processes (like purchasing and reporting) so that nothing slips through the cracks. As TGO's co-founder and CEO Orgad Gratch writes in a recent blog post, ERP allows you to "improve the way your employees share information, whether through an ERP-based tool or over the web."
Operational and business processes shouldn't be set in stone.
The operational and business processes that worked for a company five years ago might not be optimal today - yet, reviewing these processes rarely makes the top of any company's priority list.
Take the office of the CFO, for example. Financial departments are notorious for going overboard in the approvals department, creating a messy bureaucracy that can often at least be simplified, if not done away with. But these things are hard to see from the inside, especially if you've relied on the same processes for years.
As Gratch says, "Having an outside perspective of where your company's finance department is doing well and where it could be doing better is invaluable, both for your productivity and for your company's success."
Security concerns increase with a business's size.
As companies scale their operations and develop more complex, high-value products, their security needs become more complex as well.
To manage these needs, companies of course have to invest in security measures like encryption, data-leakage prevention software, etc. But another aspect of company security has to do with creating strong, transparent workflows.
The best way to do this is by using BPM software. These software suites allow users to design workflows and automate processes that used to be done manually - both of which functions contribute to tighter company security by helping to eliminate potential errors. This is an extremely valuable benefit of BPM, whether you work in digital marketing, manufacturing, retail or any other industry.
How often do you think about the technology you use behind the scenes of your own business?