Man, elegant suit responds, with the phone high technology with holography and augmented reality, to the doctor for treatment.

Leonardo da Vinci drew sketches of flying machines 400 years before the Wright Brothers’ maiden flight. He also sketched submarines 300 years before actual models were actually put into use. What is my point? That which was once considered to be outlandish science fiction is often the basis for future reality.

It may feel like we are already living in a futuristic world. Advances in technology have swept upon us so quickly that we can barely keep up. And yet… we should recognize that this is just the beginning because technology does not standstill. It never has, and it never will.

Before we peer into what the future of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and MRP (Material Resource Planning) might look like in a brave new world, let us catalog the present.

Futuristic Technologies that Are Presently in Use

You probably know about all of these because they are not new. Wherever possible, in addition to a brief description of the technology, I have included either the date they were “invented” or the date they were first put into use.

3D Printing is the construction of a three-dimensional object from a CAD model or a digital 3D model. The concept dates back to 1945, but it was not until 1899 that is was first commercialized.

AI, as we all know, refers to Artificial Intelligence, in other words, intelligence demonstrated by machines. It was founded as an academic discipline in 1956. Today you can find AI in use across almost any industry because it is integrated into almost every computer system.

Biometric Authentication, which includes facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, and eye recognition, is quickly replacing “old school” username and password login procedures because it is both more secure and more convenient.

Cryptocurrency cannot be defined in just a few words. The dictionary definition is: “Any form of currency that only exists digitally, that usually has no central issuing or regulating authority but instead uses a decentralized system to record transactions and manage the issuance of new units, and that relies on cryptography to prevent counterfeiting and fraudulent transactions.” The first such currency was Bitcoin in 2009.

IoT, which we know stands for the Internet of Things, refers to a network of physical objects embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies used to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet. The term was coined in 1985. Today, IoT connected devices have found widespread and game-changing uses in many fields, among them in medicine, healthcare, industry, manufacturing, transportation, and much more.

Machine learning is also an essential component of the growing field of data science. ML, which stands for Machine Learning, is a branch of AI and computer science that focuses on using data and algorithms to imitate the way that humans learn, gradually improving its accuracy. Using statistical methods, the algorithms are trained to make classifications or predictions, uncovering critical insights within data mining projects. These insights then drive decision-making within applications and businesses, resulting in a positive impact on key growth metrics.

MR, Mixed Reality, is merging real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations, where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real-time. It was first introduced in 1994 and had since found practical usage in many areas of education, training, and production.

Robotics was defined in 1979 by the Robot Institute of America as: “Reprogrammable, multifunctional ‘manipulators’ designed to move material, parts, tools, or specialized devices through various programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.” We are not talking about humanoids like R2D2 and C3PO of Star Wars fame. Most robotic devices look more like arms or like complex machines. We tend to think about robotics in manufacturing environments, but robotics also plays a critical role in hospital operating rooms, transportation, Earth and space exploration, weaponry, and laboratory research.

RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation (aka software robotics). RPA uses automation technologies to mimic back-office tasks of human workers. A few examples would be extracting data, filling in forms, or moving files. It uses a combination of APIs and user interface (UI) interactions to integrate and perform repetitive tasks between enterprise and productivity applications. RPA scripts emulate human processes and automate those activities. NOTE: Despite its name, no robots are involved in RPA. It is just another kind of awesome, programmable software that you can add to your toolbox.

The above represents a concise list of the many technological advancements that define our present and enhance the way companies run their businesses with Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and IoT sensors as their guide; with more automation than ever before; with new tools to speed production; and always with an eye toward the importance of heightened levels of security.

One more detour before we move into the future of ERP and MRP. While the list above focuses on technology, the two items below that we would like to bring to your attention are not technologies per se but rather pervasive trends that dramatically change the business landscape and perhaps beyond.

Wireless Everything

This is an excellent example of how quickly new advances in technology become widespread. The transistor was invented at Bell Labs in 1947. The first “transistor radio” (in other a wireless, portable radio) became commercially available in 1954, and since then, billions of transistor radios are estimated to have been sold worldwide.

And today? Today there is a laundry list of wireless devices and technologies, many of which we simply take for granted. In fact, depending on how you are, you may not even remember a time before there were cell phones, mobile phones now being one of the most pervasive forms of wireless technology.

Here is our laundry list of wireless devices and technologies available today in wireless form: CD players, MP3 players, walkie-talkies, computer mice and keyboards, earbuds and headsets, speakers, routers, phone chargers, network cards, thermostats, radiator controllers, garage door openers, baby monitors, and every remote-control device you can think of, some of which you probably use every day.

The implications are as far-reaching as the technology itself. For example, new wireless technologies, such as mobile body area networks (MBAN), have the capability to monitor blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level, and body temperature. The MBAN works by sending low-powered wireless signals to receivers that feed into nursing stations or monitoring sites. This technology eliminates the unintentional risk of infection or disconnection that arises from wired connections.

XaaS stands for Everything as a Service. You may not be familiar with this acronym, and yet you are almost undoubtedly familiar with the trend which began with SaaS (Software as a Service) in 1985. SaaS represented a new business model that replaced buying software with a monthly software subscription that included all the related services. Unknowingly, the adoption of SaaS created a tsunami of “…as a Service” offerings that can today only be seen as Everything as a Service.

To give you some idea of just how pervasive XaaS is, here is our laundry of everything that is today available as a service:

IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service
PaaS – Platform as a Service
HaaS – Hardware as a Service
SECaaS – Security as a Service
DRaaS – Disaster Recovery as a Service
DaaS – Desktop as a Service AND Device as a Service
AaaS – Data Analytics as a Service
CaaS – Compliance as a Service
TaaS – Transportation as a Service (think Uber)
SOCaaS – Security Operation Center as a Service
UCaaS – Unified Communications as a Service
VSaaS – Surveillance as a Service
FaaS – Function as a Service
WAFaas – Web Application Firewall as a Service
ACaaS – Access Control as a Service
DBaaS – Database as a Service
POSaaS – Point of Sale Hardware and Software as a Service
MaaS – Malware as a Service AND Monitoring as a Service
NaaS – Network as a Service
StaaS – Storage as a Service
ITaaS – IT as a Service
BPMaaS – Business Process Management as a Service
RaaS – Ransomware as a Service

Believe it or not, the above list is far from complete. You can read more about XaaS here:

It is now, finally, time to look ahead because we have exhausted what we set out to tell you about the past and the present.

The Amazing Future of ERP and MRP

When we speak about the future of ERP and MRP, the easy way out is to say that the technologies and trends that exist today will become more advanced and will usher in improvements in ERP and MRP software beyond what we may envision.

Of course, indeed, future technology will inevitably build on the past and the present. We are all a product of that which has come before. And yet, if we let our imaginations run wild, if instead of thinking “out of the box,” which implies that there is still a box, we begin to think “outside of the box,” we may allow ourselves to become true visionaries. We can perhaps “Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

We might think, for example, where we would be if Bill Gates had not only envisioned but had also steadfastly worked toward “A microcomputer on every desk and in every home running Microsoft software.” That vision drove the entire company forward.

How much further can AI progress? There are those who say that the future of AI is a hypothetical agent that would possess intelligence far surpassing that of the brightest and most gifted human mind. Who knows what that agent might be able to accomplish?

When we think about robotics, we should be aware that recent innovations now allow robotic devices to work companionably alongside humans, having overcome the physical constraints that once limited that option.

Above and WAY Beyond

So, let us go beyond the constraints of the box, of even our rational, conservative minds. Let us look at a world without ownership, where everything is available “,,, as a Service.” Where we can speak with a holographic assistant and resolve IT problems in minutes. Where that virtual agent is constantly monitoring our ERP and MRP systems to identify and resolve potential issues before they arise before they impact us at all.

Here is one scenario for what your work life might look like, not a year from now, not ten years from now, but perhaps 50 years from now…

Your virtual assistant, which for purposes of this futuristic scenario, we will call Alexa 10.0, has already awakened you at home and provided you with your agenda for the day. You teleport to the office, and the door opens automatically because it recognizes you due to your chip implant as someone with permission to enter. No key or key card entry required.

Based on today’s agenda, Alexa has already opened on your computer only those systems that you will need to use today. Because you are the CFO, your focus today is only AR and AP. So instead of opening and giving you access to your company’s entire ERP/MRP solution, you access AR and AP only, saving you a ton of money because in the “…as a Service” model, you only pay for what you use.

The same will be true for all your colleagues, who will opening today those areas of the ERP/MRP software that they need.

You teleport home at the end of your day, and you do not need to check your computer again because Alexa 10.0 will inform if any additional Accounts Receivable have been come in since you left the office.

AI, ML, IoT, RPA – all will be operating on versions 10.0 that go so far beyond their capabilities today that it is almost impossible to imagine how much they will have advanced. WE leave that to YOUR imagination!

The Future of Your ERP and MRP with Strategic Systems Group

Few of us here at Strategic Systems Group (SSG) will still be around in 50 years to see whether any of the fruits of our imaginations run wild may have come true. We have been in business for thirty years, and we have seen innovation that we would not have dreamed three decades ago. We suspect that five decades from now, the next generation of SSG leaders will be helping you (and Alexa) meet all your manufacturing and distribution needs.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with SSG at (310) 539-4645 or via our contact form to find out how we can help you today!

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