ERP And SCM — What To Expect In 2024, Part 1

By Robert Kramer, Patrick Moorhead - February 12, 2024

As we move into 2024, enterprise resource planning and supply chain management systems represent 50% of global enterprise software revenue—and if anything, are even more important than that to the companies that use them. These systems harbor huge reservoirs of data and are being revolutionized by the adoption of AI, cloud technology and advanced integrations. The emphasis is on incorporating more analytics, machine learning and automation into ERP and SCM systems to improve efficiency and broaden their capabilities to handle complex data analysis, predictive modeling and real-time decision making. Additionally, given growing environmental awareness and regulations, ERP and SCM increasingly incorporate sustainability considerations. And in another important trend, cloud-based solutions are becoming the preferred choice for new platform implementations.

There’s so much to say about these solutions that I’m going to divide my assessment into two articles. In this one, I’ll provide an overview of both types of software before going into detail about top ERP trends and selected vendors. In the next installment, I’ll do the same for SCM before offering some concluding thoughts about this sector of enterprise software as a whole.

ERP And SCM — The Basics

ERP software is an integrated, multifaceted business management system that includes modules for financial accounting, inventory management, production planning, manufacturing and customer order handling; when used effectively, it helps streamline operations and ensure data consistency across departments. Meanwhile, SCM systems improve inventory management and logistical efficiency. They manage the flow of goods and information throughout the supply chain, from raw material procurement to product delivery, to enhance demand forecasting, supplier management and distribution. Additionally, data-driven insights enable pricing analysis and the anticipation of product demand, informing sales and marketing strategies to support targeted campaigns and accelerated deliveries—all to provide a superior customer experience.

Both ERP and SCM systems are crucial for managing complex business processes, with ERP focusing more on internal activities and SCM more on external ones. Together, the two types of systems represent half of global enterprise software revenue. The ERP market was valued at $63.33 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $187.79 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 14.8% during the forecast period. Meanwhile, the SCM market accounted for $14.3 billion in 2022 and is projected to climb to around $29 billion by 2030, a CAGR of 9.7% during the forecast period.

ERP systems address many different functional areas within businesses
Licensed Illustration from iStock

ERP Evolves With More AI, Automation and Cloud

There is an increasing integration of generative AI in ERP systems, enhancing various aspects including transactions, financial operations and manufacturing. Specifically, AI improves financial analysis by detecting trends and anomalies and facilitating accurate forecasting and budgeting. It also optimizes inventory management with predictive analytics to maintain ideal stock levels. In maintenance, AI predicts equipment servicing needs, reducing downtime. Additionally, AI improves HR functions within ERP by analyzing résumés and profiles to select the best candidates, plus forecasting employee turnover and recommending training or career development strategies.

AI enhances customer relations by powering chatbots and virtual assistants in ERP systems, helping modernize processing of customer inquiries and orders. While ERP systems primarily employ AI functionalities for internal operations and data management, customer relationship management software uses AI to enhance customer interactions and engagement. For example, AI can be used with ERP data to hone demand forecasting, which can then guide the CRM in planning targeted marketing campaigns. Maximizing the synergy between these systems requires well-thought-out operational processes as well as seamless data sharing.

Automation is increasingly required for ERP, especially through robotic process automation and low-code automation platforms, as discussed in my recent article on Appian. Using this approach, businesses can achieve a higher level of process automation, reducing the need for manual interventions and enhancing the speed and accuracy of processes. RPA automates repetitive tasks such as data entry, invoice processing and payroll, reducing manual work and errors. Low-code platforms allow for quickly developing custom applications for specific needs. Integrating RPA and low-code platforms with ERP systems helps automate routine tasks and create tailored solutions.

AI and automation in ERP systems also expand analytics capabilities, making it easier to gather and analyze data across different business functions. These results provide insights into performance, demand forecasting, customer behaviors, inefficiencies and financial and risk factors. Such advanced analytics integrated into ERP systems help users make informed decisions and prepare their businesses for future challenges.

The ERP market is shifting towards cloud-based solutions, especially as working remotely becomes more entrenched. I’m also seeing more businesses with global operations in multiple locations adopt cloud-based ERP systems due to the flexibility provided by running in the cloud. Currently, 64% of companies shopping for an ERP are looking for a SaaS system, with 21% preferring fully cloud-based options, versus 15% choosing on-premises systems. This trend reflects a dominant increase in cloud-based ERP; the value of the cloud-based ERP market is projected to grow from $49.80 billion in 2023 to $140.14 billion by 2030, representing a CAGR of 15.9% during this period—with 80% of new implementations being cloud-based.

Traditional ERP systems based in a central cloud are shifting towards more flexible and distributed setups that make the most of multi-cloud and edge computing. It’s essential that companies shopping for an ERP look for systems that can integrate across different cloud platforms and utilize edge computing. This allows for quicker data processing—a vital need for making real-time decisions—particularly in operations spread across different locations.

The Move Toward Industry-Specific ERP

Only 3% of companies use standard, out-of-the-box functionality for their ERPs, indicating a strong preference for solutions that are tailor-made, industry-specific or at least customizable. Industry-specific software can be more expensive than generic offerings, but considering the importance of specialized functions for some industries, the higher price is often worth it.

Consider a few industry-specific examples. I used to sell software designed for chemical manufacturers; these companies require features such as the generation of material safety data sheets or certificates of analysis. Meanwhile, an automotive ERP system will help users manage warranties and recall notices as well as the details of customizations needed to manufacture vehicles. Pharmaceutical and healthcare ERPs include compliance and regulatory features, while agriculture ERPs include functionality for crop scheduling, equipment management and weather predictions. Other industry-specific ERPs include retail, construction, food and beverage, oil and gas, textile and apparel, HR and education.

ERP 2024 Trends

Keeping these innovations in mind, here are the top ERP trends I anticipate for 2024.

  • AI and ML — As described in more detail above, the ERP industry is witnessing a deeper integration of AI and ML—especially generative AI—across various system modules. In 2024 we will see even more of advanced algorithms using GAI and predictive analytics to automate tasks and provide real-time insights to optimize scheduling, demand forecasting and personalized recommendations.
  • Explainable AI — XAI makes AI decisions easy to understand for users by being clear and transparent. This helps users trust and understand the AI’s choices. For example, if an AI-based system denies a loan application, XAI would give supply the applicant with the reasons why, such as late payments, a high debt-to-income ratio or not having enough credit history. In the ERP context, XAI can help users understand, for example, which aspects of the underlying data drive specific recommendations.
  • Hyper-Automation — Numerous vendors are improving their tools through hyper-automation, a combination of RPA, AI and ML designed to automate complete business processes within ERPs. RPA bots handle tasks such as automating data entry or approving purchase orders; AI chatbots address customer service inquiries related to order status; ML algorithms analyze ERP data to identify trends that enhance overall efficiency. This approach frees up users to focus their time on more strategic tasks.
  • User experience — New AI technology with voice-activated features based on NLP will make using ERP systems as simple as conversing. This will provide users with easy, hands-free access to information so they can more easily complete tasks.
  • Sustainability — Environmental, social and governance considerations are becoming increasingly relevant in ERP systems. Green modules track environmental data such as emissions, energy consumption, waste generation and resource usage, plus they report on sustainability performance metrics.
  • Security — The integration of blockchain technology into ERP systems is a growing trend that is improving security and transparency in business operations. Blockchain’s security features safeguard sensitive information and protect critical data within ERP systems. Its distributed ledger ensures secure, tamper-resistant recording of transactions and data, guarding against fraud and errors. Blockchain also offers secure and decentralized identity management, reducing the risk of unauthorized access, and ensures product authenticity while reducing fraud and data breach risks.

ERP Implementations and Challenges

When it comes to ERP system buyers, manufacturers make up the largest group at 47%, followed by distributors at 18%, service providers at 12% and construction companies at 4%. The most demand for new ERP systems comes from industries such as defense, government, aerospace and retail.

The implementation of ERP systems comes with its own set of challenges. While most companies’ goal is to complete the process within a year, only 49% manage to finish their implementations on schedule, often exceeding planned timelines by up to 30%. Budget overruns are a common issue, affecting 45% of ERP implementations. Implementations also face a relatively high failure rate, with approximately half of them falling short of their objectives. This failure rate can be even higher for first-time buyers, ranging from 55% to 75%. Employee resistance to new ERP software is a significant contributing factor, with 82% of individual users displaying reluctance. Unfortunately, the practical usage of ERP systems within average organizations falls below expectations, with only 26% to 27% of employees actively using them. Ideally, one would prefer to have at least 50% of the workforce actively engaged with the system. Yet as companies grow, I see the percentage of employees actively using their ERP system actually decrease.

Having said that, there are also strong positive outcomes associated with ERP implementations. Approximately 88% of organizations that invest in these systems believe their new system benefits their business one year after implementation. Additionally, 95% report improvements in their business processes following ERP system implementation.

ERP Vendors

When you assess ERP solutions, it’s crucial to consider specific features such as multicompany capability, which allows the software’s functions to extend across different companies in multiple languages and currencies. Your evaluation criteria should also include compatibility with other software, integration of advanced technologies, cost-effectiveness and adherence to industry standards in areas such as functionality, customizations, user interface and security. Here is an overview of some of my recommended ERP solutions, starting with some of the biggest vendors and working my way to smaller providers.

  1. Microsoft Dynamics 365 — Primarily a cloud-based ERP solution, this serves mid- to large-sized businesses with its finance, operations and sales modules, along with industry-specific offerings for manufacturing, retail, healthcare, education and nonprofits. Its global presence and ecosystem make it an attractive choice for global businesses requiring support across multiple locations. The suite also has modules for CRM, supply chain management, human resources, marketing, analytics (with Power BI) and field service, providing a holistic view of operations.
  2. Oracle ERP — A scalable cloud and on-premises solution that serves a wide range of industries, its functionality makes it suitable for complex organizations with substantial data and operations. Oracle’s strong focus on security and compliance makes this software appealing for industries such as finance, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, where regulatory requirements are stringent.
  3. Netsuite — This cloud-only ERP from Oracle is primarily for small and medium-sized companies. It comes preconfigured for industry verticals in retail, manufacturing, software and nonprofits, and it has multicurrency, multilanguage and multilocation functionality to support global businesses.
  4. SAP — SAP S/4HANA, an on-premises or cloud-based solution, is geared for large and mid-sized enterprises needing global functionality. It caters to various industries, including manufacturing, retail, healthcare and financial services, and integrates AI technology and real-time data analytics. This makes it suitable for businesses with complex operational and data requirements.
  5. Epicor — This ERP is a cloud-based and on-premises solution that doesn’t spread itself thin across all industries; rather, Epicor ERP specializes in niche manufacturing and distribution sectors. It has specific features to manage product configuration and quality control, along with supply chain and warehouse management capabilities designed to handle multilocation inventory and streamline order fulfillment.
  6. IFS — This company sets itself apart by catering to asset-centric businesses in energy and utilities, construction and engineering, manufacturing, aerospace and defense and service management. These industries often deal with the management of physical assets including machinery, infrastructure and other equipment. IFS provides ERP solutions that can be deployed both in the cloud and on-premises.
  7. Acumatica — An ERP solution that caters to mid-sized companies with a general business edition, offering preconfigured industry-specific versions for construction, manufacturing, distribution and retail. Acumatica is a cloud-native platform that enables customization through low-code development, making it adaptable to each business’s requirements without involving programmers.
  8. Infor — This solution serves a range of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, distribution, professional services and the public sector. Infor offers flexibility in deployment, with options for cloud, on-premises and hybrid solutions.
  9. Sage — A suite of solutions, including Sage 50, Sage 100, Sage 300 and its traditional ERP solution, Sage X3, to meet the requirements of small and mid-sized businesses. Sage accommodates different preferences with cloud-based solutions for flexibility, on-premises solutions for control and security and hybrid solutions that blend both approaches.
  10. SYSPRO — This company offers specialized solutions for distribution and manufacturing, featuring production planning, scheduling, inventory management, quality control and supply chain optimization. SYSPRO stands out by enabling extensive customization through API integration with various other business tools. It provides options for cloud, on-premises and hybrid deployments.
  11. Odoo — This is an open-source, cloud-based ERP solution designed for small to mid-sized businesses, where users play a role in shaping its development. It offers a free core platform with the option to purchase additional modules. Customization can be achieved through APIs and low-code development. Odoo provides general business features and industry-specific modules for e-commerce, manufacturing and professional services. While it may have fewer features than larger ERP systems, it caters to tech-savvy companies that have the internal resources to support the solution.

Summary

Overall, the ERP landscape in 2024 is influenced by rapid technological advancements in the face of changing business needs. AI, for instance, is not just about making processes faster; its role in ERP is also to provide more insightful data analysis for better decisions. Meanwhile, the shift away from traditional on-premises systems is largely due to the cloud’s ability to offer greater scalability, flexibility and potentially lower costs. Businesses also realize that generic systems may not effectively address their unique industry-specific challenges and requirements. As a result, there’s an increasing demand for ERP systems that can be tailored to specific industry processes and regulatory environments. With businesses handling so much sensitive data, the security of these systems remains a high priority that calls for enhanced features such as blockchain to protect against data breaches and other cyber threats.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this assessment, in which I will detail the intricacies of SCM solutions and offer my perspective on where that market is headed.

VP & Principal Analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy | + posts
Robert Kramer is vice president and principal analyst covering enterprise data, including data management, databases, data lakes, data observability, data analytics, and data protection. Robert has over 30 years of proven experience with startups, IT companies, global marketing, detailed strategies, business modeling, and planning, working with enterprise companies, GTM assets, management, and execution.
+ posts
Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.