Category Archives: Social Networks

Social Networks

Ecommerce and Social Media: Shopping In The Cloud

Ecommerce and Social Media: Shopping In The Cloud

Ecommerce and Social Media

By 2018, retail ecommerce will reach nearly $2.5 trillion worldwide, according to eMarketer’s forecasts. Currently, China tops the ecommerce markets, followed closely by the US, the UK taking a distant third. With over 60% of consumers researching products online before making purchase decisions it’s no wonder online sales are climbing and unsurprising that ecommerce retailers are doing their best to make purchases happen online.

In 2014, Social media sites with the highest influence include Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter – with peak volumes of traffic in that order. Facebook dominated the realm last year sending 60% of all ecommerce referrals. Thanks to its broad accessibility and user-reliance, social media’s influence on ecommerce continues to rocket, and Shopify’s analysis of 37 million social media visits resulting in 529,000 orders further illuminates this power.

Social Media Shopping

(Infographic Source: Shopify)

Why such clout?

Though some may dismiss social media as a frivolous pursuit of the idle, it’s proved to be much more than selfies and gossip. It provides an effective manner for retailers to connect with their consumers personally and individually, and in 2015 it’s predicted that over 5% of online spend will be directed from social media sites. The top social network platforms further provide suitable consumer engagement platforms and an array of marketing tools. Add to that the fact that there are over 100 million mobile shoppers in the US alone, and the projection that this total will increase by 49% by 2018, it’s clear the social media is a formidable tool.

Statistic: Number of mobile buyers in the United States from 2013 to 2018 (in millions) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Who Benefits from the Affiliation?

Everybody benefits. Consumers want the ease and convenience, and businesses large and small know that social advertising is a key driver of growth. The National Retail Federation’s 2015 study shows that 58% of small businesses are increasing their yearly social media marketing, with a quarter of retailers naming Facebook as their top customer acquisition channel. Moreover, 60% of consumers have made purchases from small businesses thanks to Twitter.

Making It Simple

Bigcommerce states that 43% of SMBs report they want more help with generating ROI from their social advertisements. Because the social media audience is so large, targeting the right audience can be difficult. Facebook’s Custom Audiences advertising platform has 145 separate targeting groups and success metrics available for optimizing advertising, and in the past manual A/B testing has been the only way to test its most suitable usage. Built in partnership with Boostable, Bigcommerce recently announced Product Ads which automatically optimizes ads for highest ROI.

Product Ads by Bigcommerce

With native support on Facebook and Twitter, Product Ads provides many advantages including:

  • Tools to gain & retain customers.
  • Driving revenue through automatically optimized campaigns.
  • Dynamic ad creation and integrated management for cost and resource savings.
  • Improved marketing investment ROI through robust reporting.

Product Ads uses sophisticated targeting techniques to help find new customers, and helps generate traffic and maximize promotions while increasing awareness of underperforming inventory. Automated audience targeting, bidding and optimization ensures marketing investments are fully exploited and revenues amplified, while the ability to automatically import product images and details, tailor-make ads for Facebook and Twitter, and manage numerous campaigns from a single unified dashboard ensures resources are put to their best and most efficient use. Additionally, the ability to monitor campaigns through solid reporting tools allows users to extend campaigns which are performing well while ferreting out hidden opportunities to garner value from products performing inadequately.

The simplified process provides all of these benefits (and more) in four easy steps:

  1. Select your advertising networks and choose the products you’d like to promote.
  2. Ads are automatically created using your product names, descriptions and photos.
  3. Edit, if you wish, and submit.
  4. Your advert runs as soon as the network approves it.

Bigcommerce’s Product Ads are available to all US-based clients in the Bigcommerce Marketplace for no additional fee. Tim Schulz, chief product officer for Bigcommerce, states, “The global reach of social platforms like Facebook and Twitter present a massive opportunity for our merchants to promote their products and attract new customers. This unique, integrated advertising solution is an example of how we continue to invest in building the industry’s best platform for merchant success with a comprehensive set of tools designed to help our clients grow and scale their business.” The head of SMB at Twitter, Russ Laraway, has expressed excitement for this new platform and remarks that, “It will without a doubt enable advertisers of all sizes and verticals to more efficiently manage and optimize their campaigns on Twitter.”

Take a look at some of Bigcommerce’s effective solutions with a free 15-day trial now. Already powering some of the world’s most successful online stores, it won’t take long for them to bowl you over and sign you up to a powerful ecommerce solution perfectly suited to your needs.

Sponsored By Bigcommerce

By Jennifer Klostermann

Conference Call Survey In The Cloud – The Waiting Game

Conference Call Survey In The Cloud – The Waiting Game

Conference Call Survey

Online conference calls using Cloud and Connected devices have become a norm in most modern businesses. As long as employees can access a computer, or have a smartphone or other mobile device available, they can make the meeting.

With the plethora of available cloud-based conferencing and collaboration tools available, getting together with clients, company executives and co-workers is a breeze. It saves time and energy, and should improve productiveness in all business environments. But when dealing with people, even the best cloud-based conferencing services can fall short of expectations, with some employees calling in late and others hanging up before calls even begin.

A major problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any accepted etiquette when it comes to the dial-in and on-hold behavior of those attending cloud-based conferences. However, it does appear that women have more patience, joining conference calls earlier and waiting longer on hold before hanging up. It is also clear that very few people waste the time spent on hold while hanging around waiting for other participants to get online.

Conferencing and collaboration provider, InterCall has released an infographic that reveals what US employees do when placed on hold, waiting to join a conference call, as well as the changing habits of those joining online conferences.


They surveyed around 200 full-time employees who join one or more conference call each week, in an endeavor to more about dial-in behavior. They wanted to know how proactive and patient conference call attendees are when waiting for other attendees, and what if anything they do while kept on hold. They also wanted to know whether habits changed in relation to those involved in a particular conference.

From the survey, two areas that appear to need attention are the integration of video conferencing tools to improve punctuality of attendees, and swapping out pre-conference and on-hold background music in favor of company news or current events.

While conference calls have become an essential part of doing business, this shouldn’t preclude companies from “refining their tools or processes to match evolving employee habits,” says InterCall’s executive vice-president of conferencing and collaboration, Rob Bellmar. “We believe that with a better understanding of current conferencing behaviors, companies can start taking strategic steps to change them.”

Punctuality Joining Conference Calls


On average, most employees seem to give themselves more than enough time to log into conference calls on time, with 55 percent dialing in one to three minutes earlier than required, and only 10 percent joining as the conference starts. Interestingly, 13 to 14 percent of employees dial in at least five minutes earlier if they are “meeting with” clients or supervisors. They seem to have less respect for co-workers with 20 percent dialing in as the calls start.

When conference calls are delayed, attendees do sometimes hang up, but the survey showed 54 percent would wait six minutes or longer before doing this. Again they are usually more willing to wait longer if conference calls are with customers or company leaders – with 31 percent being prepared to wait at least 10 minutes.

Generally employees say they are courteous if they find they cannot attend a conference call or are running late, with 93 percent notifying other attendees.

Another interesting result was that 63 percent of respondents believed attendees would be earlier if the it was a video conference call rather than simply an audio meeting, implying that visibility has an impact on accountability.

What Employees Do While Waiting On Hold


Waiting for a conference call can waste a lot of time, particularly if meetings are running late. But results of the survey show that generally employees don’t waste time while waiting. In fact a very large percentage (76), use the time to carry out other work.

While not all these activities relate to work:

  • 65 percent check email
  • 35 percent send text messages (it doesn’t state whether these are business related or personal)
  • 33 percent check out their social media accounts (probably personal)
  • 26 percent take the opportunity to read
  • 21 percent stretch
  • 16 percent eat
  • 8 percent shop online or gossip

Often those waiting for conference calls to begin are subjected to music. While half the respondents said that the music played affected their attitude in the following conference call, 47 percent said they’d rather listen to news than music. Nearly a quarter (21 percent) reported negative vibes towards pre-conference music.

Gender and Age Implications

Above all else, the survey found that “women prove to be more prompt, patient callers than men,” with more women consistently joining conference calls early, regardless of who was in involved in the call. Further, women are twice as likely as men to join at least five minutes early. Women are also more likely to hang on longer on hold before leaving. On average, it seems that 21 percent of women will wait at least 10 minutes before leaving compared with 14 percent of men.

Perhaps oddly, while millennials (born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) are the least likely employees to dial in early, it’s the 46- to 60-year-olds who tend to dial in at the last moment, with 16 percent admitting they dial in as meetings are starting. However older folk are more likely to wait on hold for longer before hanging up. Only 45 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds will wait six or more minutes; 53 percent of 26- to 35-year-olds; 62 percent of 36- to 45-year-olds; and 63 percent of 46- to 60-year-olds. At the same time, older employees are more likely to hang up without contacting other callers.

One statistic that was particularly unsurprising was that more than half of the 18- to 25-year-olds admit they check social media while on hold, while only 17 percent of 46- to 60-year-olds bother.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Penny Swift

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

10 Trending US Cities For Tech Jobs And Startups

Traditionally actors headed for Hollywood while techies made a beeline for Silicon Valley. But times are changing, and with technological job opportunities expanding (Infographic), new hotspots are emerging that offer fantastic opportunities for tech jobs and startup companies in the industry.

ZipRecruiter, an online recruitment and job finder business, has identified the top ten cities that are poised to become the new tech capitals of various US states. They tracked hiring patterns, and analyzed the various metropolitan areas that currently show positive employment growth and appear to be on the verge of a boom in the tech industry.


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

They also identified common factors these cities share including:

  • A cost of living that is lower than usual, and therefore affordable
  • Reputable colleges and universities that provide an entry level workforce continuously, and also offer good resources for research

Additionally, the company reports that the tech industry as a whole is revitalizing economies that were previously depressed essentially refocusing what has been referred to as the Rust Belt at the forefront of the American economy.

One of the top ten tech cities is Indianapolis, and today we spoke to two Indy-based startups to get an indication of how successful they have been. We also tracked the top tech cities listed by ZipRecruiter, to see which tech jobs are on offer.

Top Ten Tech Cities and Their Top Five Tech Jobs


Business is booming in these ten cities:

1. Austin – Round Rock, Texas, known as “Silicon Hills”, where companies including Google, Facebook, and eBay are currently offering more than 50,000 tech positions for Java developers, development analysts, technical writers, software engineers, and network administrators.

2. Raleigh – Cary, North Carolina, in the so-called research triangle where companies are looking primarily for infrastructure architects, design engineers, tooling engineers, Java developers, and SQL developers.

3. Provo – Orem, Utah, where many software companies operate and which is a pilot location for Google Fiber. There are currently about 8,570 jobs available in IT, the top one offering positions in technical support, and as Python developers, field technicians, software engineers, and net developers.

4. Fort Collins – Loveland, Colorado, that is home to computer companies including Hewlett Packard and Intel. Fort Collins’ top five tech jobs are software QA, SQL server database developer, application software developer, test engineer, and lead systems programmer.

5. Hartford (West and East Hartford), Connecticut, where the top tech jobs are applications engineer, systems analyst, infrastructure engineer, Java developer, and data architect.

6. Indianapolis – Carmel, Indiana, that boasts a high quality of life coupled with a low cost of living, and has recently attracted numerous tech companies to the area. Top tech jobs are available for senior Java developers, infrastructure architects, Java developers, operations managers, and net developers. Startups are more varied (see below).

7. Boise City – Nampa, Idaho, that currently has about 8,180 IT jobs available, the top five being positions for application engineers, firmware engineers, software engineers, mobile software developers, and net software engineers.

8. Manchester – Nashua, New Hampshire, which seems to have an increasing number of tech jobs available. The top five here are for UI software engineers, systems architects, Java developers, senior IT project managers, and sharepoint administrators.

9. Nashville – Davidson – Murfreesboro – Franklin, Tennessee, which while number nine on the list, has more than 20,000 tech jobs available right now. The top five are for senior programmer analysts, information security engineers, systems administrators, IT managers, and iOS developers.

10. Eugene – Springfield, Oregon, known as the Silicon Forest because they manufacture a great deal of tech hardware and they emphasize clean, renewable technologies.

Indy Tech Startups

The two startups interviewed by CloudTweaks were Formstack, an Indy business that provides data capture solutions, and Roust Community, a social network that connects like-minded people.

Formstack started out nearly a decade ago, in 2006, and has subsequently become very involved within the Indy tech community, recognizing the importance of giving back to the city in which they are currently based after relocating from San Francisco.

The company has subsequently experienced a 110 percent increase in new revenue over the last year, and it expects to see a further 80 percent year-over-year revenue growth in 2015. This illustrates how a successful startup can – and has – helped the Indy community develop, and how it is operating on what has become one of the top ten havens for tech startups.

An advantage of headquartering out of Indy, says Ade Olonoh, (Founder of Formstack), is that the city has the ability to “bring in members from all over the world, but still help increase the overall revenue of the city and have an impact on our city’s economy.”

form-stack-ade-olonohRoust Community, created by Mark LaFay to move dialogue off Facebook and provide real value for those wanting “good conversation” relating to polarizing topics including politics, religion and social issues, also has it’s heart and soul in Indianapolis. “Indiana continues to become not only the crossroads of America, but also a growing technology metropolis,” says LaFay.

Certainly these are two startups that are doing their best to nurture talent within their own fast developing tech communities.

By Penny Swift

5 Steps To Effective Social Media Marketing

5 Steps To Effective Social Media Marketing

Push Your Cloud Startup Using  Social Media Marketing

We’ve talked on a number of occasions about the Social media cloud as well as topics such as Social listening and would like to a bit about Marketing in the social cloud.

Social media marketing can be a cost-effective and prolific tool when used correctly, and considering the continuing boom in the social media space, developing a robust strategy should be a top priority. Below is a condensed approach for creating your own successful plan, with The 2015 Social Media Marketing Start Kit offering additional resources that help you get started with social media, discussions around big data’s usefulness in social engagement, and insights into advocate marketing.

Provided is an example of the number of tools existing today in the (Infographic credit: Social cloud marketing landscape.

Click to zoom 


1) Pay Attention

Companies that are successfully using social media to market their brands are listening to their customers first. By reading and joining your target market’s online discussions, you’ll learn what they value, what they require, and what they’re missing. This aids you in creating a focused and constructive campaign that targets the right people most effectively.

2) Strive for Worth

Consumers are bombarded with advertising on a minute-to-minute basis, and much of it becomes disregarded white noise. Entrepreneur notes that effective social media strategies tend to be 80% quality and 20% quantity. Provide your carefully chosen market with tailored and engaging content that does more than flog your products and services. Less is more when your message is reaching the right people and making a positive impact, and the value of providing quality content additionally encourages your audience to follow your future broadcasts, and share your communications with their own networks.

3) Peer Pressure

An inherent quality of social media is the influence it offers, both through you and through your customers. Once you’re appraised as a respected and attractive authority, your influence is pervasive. Furthermore, Oracle considers social influence the holy grail of social marketing, and the social influences that branch through your network invaluable.

4) Relationships

Making your customers feel like individuals is possibly the greatest benefit of social media marketing. No one wants to be a number, and no one thinks of themselves as an invisible part of the wider market. By responding directly to customers and engaging them in discussions, loyalty is generated. Customer service takes on a more personal role, and the engagement from both the business and consumer side tends to evolve into a stronger, subjective connection that benefits everyone.

5) Share

Social Media Examiner reveals social sharing habits that show mobile sharing has doubled, Facebook dominating the share market, as well as insight into the types of posts most shared. Since you’re hoping to have your broadcasts spread through consumer networks, remember that everyone else is hoping for the very same support. Sharing and responding to consumer discussions not only tells your customers that you appreciate them but encourages them to talk about you.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Social Media A New Military Battleground

Social Media A New Military Battleground

Social Media Warfare

As an increasing number of militaries worldwide use social media to recruit soldiers, gather intelligence, spread propaganda and even communicate with their own and other military groups, the broad spectrum of social media has been identified as the newest international military battleground. And as the battle intensifies, more countries join in.

Earlier this year the British army created its own special force of what The Guardian called “Facebook warriors,” and Sky News called “Twitter troops” responsible for “non-lethal warfare.” Known as the new 77th Brigade, the original 77th having used unorthodox tactics in Burma during World War II while fighting the Japanese. It is based in Berkshire and comprises reservists and regulars with journalistic skills who are social media savvy.

The Israeli military are pioneers of using social media going back as far as 2008 during its war on Gaza. It is believed to be active on 30 social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and operates in six different languages. This way, the Israeli army says, it can engage with an audience it wouldn’t reach any other way.


The Islamic State, ISIS continues to use social media hugely successfully to recruit fighters internationally and increase its propaganda efforts.

And the US Defense Advanced Research Project Administration (DARPA) agency, which commissions advanced research for the Department of Defense and creates “breakthrough technologies” for national security, has included Kickstarter and Pinterest in its studies.

The Role of Social Media in Defence and Military Sectors

While the military might not be considered the easiest “sell” on social media, the use by military organizations, armed forces, and defense contractors of social media across the board is growing exponentially. The “enemy” of conventional military groups, including ISIS, has also harnessed its power and is exploiting its possibilities on a daily basis. ISIS, and other extremist groups, use social media to spread their brand or image, and are succeeding on a global scale at a rate most would call alarming.

In November, the fifth annual Social Media Within The Defence And Military Sector will be held in London, to explore developments within the social media arena as it relates to the defense and military industry.

Motivation behind the conference is that all industries have been forced to both acknowledge and embrace social media, and evolve with it to “survive in this new age of digitization” that has revolutionized the world and all its sectors.

Asking the question, “who is winning?” the conference will cover all aspects relating to social media, including:

  • Cyber security
  • Extremist and cybercriminal threats
  • Strategy communication
  • Recruitment and propaganda
  • Intelligence
  • Data sensitivity and management
  • Ethics
  • Creating effective content
  • Public

There will be discussions that focus on the impact of social media on military operations that will be led by industry experts, as well as a spotlight session on law enforcement that will look at counter terrorism, policing and the impact social media has had on “civil liberties.” Case studies will include the Ukraine crisis and how it has changed the “face” of social media.

There will also be two half-day workshops prior to the conference:

1. Building and Managing Social Media Communities
2. Social Media: Content Creation & Delivery In the Military

Speakers have been sourced worldwide and include military experts and social media professionals from the UK, US, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway.

By Penny Swift

Growth Hacking And The Social Media Cloud

Growth Hacking And The Social Media Cloud

Social Cloud Growth Hacking

This week, Apple gave in to Taylor Swift’s demands that artists be paid for trial period streams of their music, thanks in large part to her use of social media. While Taylor Swift has a lot more kick than your average Twitter user, ensuring you actively and effectively utilize all of the social media channels available to you can be the difference between middling performance and spectacular success. Last week CloudTweaks guest contributor Garth Cartman talked about the importance of Social listening and this week we’ve provided an infographic by urbancloud that takes a closer look at the state of social media and the cloud. (Zoom In)

INFOGRAPHIC - Urban Cloud V3

The “Big Four

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are at the forefront of popular consumer social media platforms. While many small businesses like Black Milk Clothing have utilized the marketing potential of Facebook with extraordinary success, there are as many opponents as advocates for this tool. Convince & Convert Digital Marketing Advisors discusses the pitfalls of employing Facebook ineffectively, noting how detrimental a badly managed page can be. If you don’t have the time and the know-how, you might be causing more harm than interest.

If Facebook Were a Country

Let’s Talk Social Media for Small Business provides some insight into the power of social media and discusses how the wrong approach can alienate your audience. With Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn collectively receiving more than 2.5 billion visits in one month, YouTube providing 375 million unique visitors with more than 75 billion video streams in a year, and an approximate 900,000 blog posts created every 24-hours, the reach is staggering. In January, Huff Post Tech reported that if Facebook were a country, it would be the most populous nation on earth. It might not be a bad idea to make sure you’re successful in that country.

And Then Some

But don’t forget about Instagram, Reddit, Pinterest and the host of other social media tools at your fingertips. As Fortune details, thriving companies like Autodesk, Boston Consulting Group and Genentech use all of the platforms available to them to market to their customers, provide customer support and quickly deal with complaints, and distribute content. Knowing which tools best fit your needs and suit your customers helps streamline your efforts and enhance your impact.

What For?

Aside from increasing brand exposure and opening new communication lines, social media platforms let you share your innovations immediately. The grapevine is long, but the spread of information almost instantaneous. Social media can also put your customers in touch with the people at the top, providing more personalized experiences. If the President of the United States is getting intimate with Google+ and Twitter, so should you. The loyalty created when customers are treated as individuals, thanked directly, or tipped-off with exclusive offers is invaluable and creates a positive word-of-mouth campaign you could never buy.

A lot of these streams are 100% free to use, and in the end the only cost is your time. Your time, however, is exceptionally valuable, so why not make sure you’re making the most of it with John Jantsch’s free guide, Let’s Talk Social Media for Small Business.

By Glenn Blake

Social Listening, Integration Into The Cloud

Social Listening, Integration Into The Cloud

Social Listening In The Cloud

Yes, you still have work to do…

There’s a great Eddie Izzard routine from the 90s where he’s got a new printer. It’s going to change my life, he declares. It’s going to do everything for me. Even the creative stuff. But of course, it didn’t work (it wasn’t plugged in).

There’s a temptation with anything new that it’s going to revolutionise your life. A new social network? Life-changing. A new mobile phone? This is the one-stop shop for everything that is me. But three hours later, you’re still there trying unsuccessfully to plug in every number, social network and calendar entry that wouldn’t sync properly.

You still have work to do.

There’s an unfortunate temptation with the cloud to think along the same lines. I was talking to a former colleague about social listening projects and he told me that it’s fantastic – if you spend the time setting it up, and if you know what you want out of it in the first place. It doesn’t work out of the box. It doesn’t revolutionise your life at the click of your fingers.

You still have work to do.


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Social listening is a good example, and covers many of the issues that cloud integration experts have encountered. Indeed, without that initial hard graft, you find engagement in such projects wanes quickly. Microsoft recently invested heavily in social listening – to the extent that you can integrate Twitter & Facebook accounts, and alert sales & marketing teams, measure sentiment & analyse topics, etc. etc. etc.

It’s a great sell – but someone has to set this up. Before they start setting it up, there’s a significant amount of planning to be done.

1 – How are you going to acquire these Twitter & Facebook profile names?

Do you ask people when they first get in touch with you? Do you phone them up individually? Do you employ someone to scour the web looking for their profile links and entering them into the system?

2 – Who is going to integrate this data into the system?

Can it be done automatically? Or do you have to have somebody sitting there all day? Your investment has just doubled.

3 – Why do you actually want these profile names?

I used to collect bottle tops as a child. I didn’t do anything with them, I probably never looked at them. If you don’t use these profiles, then you’re doing the same as me. What are they for? If you don’t know, don’t collect.

4 – What are you going to track?

All of these social channels carry masses of data. Are you going to track every tweet? Every brand mention? Specific topics? Interactions? How are you going to distinguish between them?

5 – Who are you going to tell?

Moreover, how are you going to tell them? Daily reports? Instant alerts? Or not at all – rely on them to log in and check the data themselves?

6 – What are they going to do about this data? Why should they care?

The big sell. You’ve invested, you’ve set it up – but then why should anyone care? What is actionable here?

That’s just six questions, there are many more. Understanding what you’re going to do with all of this data, how you’re going to implement it within a system, and who you’re going to inform is the first hurdle to overcome.

Disengagement with integrated cloud services doesn’t come because people are lazy, or because people can’t be bothered with them. It comes because those initial stages of understanding why – how – who are not carried out properly. Sometimes, not at all.

These are incredibly powerful solutions. I’m no fan of social media, but I’m a huge fan of social listening as a tool for understanding how your brand is perceived. And this is a great example of an integrated tool bridging multiple cloud services – and a great example of why we need to roll up our sleeves.

If you want engagement – and indeed, any return on your investment in any cloud service, you still have work to do.

By Gareth Cartman

The Multi-Faceted ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) Business

The Multi-Faceted ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) Business

ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) Business

Business agility and responsiveness to changing market dynamics has become a crucial factor in remaining abreast of competition and sustaining profits in the long run. To become agile, business must be able to monitor, track, and evaluate core business processes in real-time and hence make informed strategic changes.

This is where Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software come to fore. Currently a $30 billion industry, the ERP industry is expected to gain further momentum as organizations rely ever more on Disruptive-4 Technologies (big data, cloud, mobile, and social).

Understanding ERP — What is ERP?

Cloud ERP

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a type of business management software. It allows the business to collect, store, organize, and interpret data from core business activities and processes. These activities and processes range from product/service planning, manufacturing, and delivery, to inventory management, marketing and sales, and shipping.

ERP plays a crucial role in systemizing, automating, and centralizing diverse business activities on a single dashboard. Maintained by database management systems, ERP systems track resources and status of business commitment (both strategic and day-to-operations). The applications that become part of the ERP system differ from organization to organization, depending on their needs and understanding with the software vendor/developer. However, the core function of all the applications is to share data across various data–generating departments of the organization (from sales and purchasing to manufacturing and supply chain) and to display this data in insightful and actionable format.

The applications that make up the system share data across the various departments (manufacturing, purchasing, sales, accounting, etc.) that provide the data. ERP facilitates information flow between all business functions, and manages connections to outside stakeholders.

The Benefits of ERP for Business

With complete integration of ERP into the business, the business gains the following benefits:

  • Enhanced Productivity — ERP automates business processes, making them faster, less prone to error, and hence more efficient. Furthermore, it frees skilled resources from performing mundane tasks.
  • Improved Performance — ERP integrates diverse business processes, hence avoiding duplication and discontinuity, ensuring coherence and allowing people to work at cross purposes, across different parts of the organization.
  • Strategic Reporting and Analysis — ERP leverages robust backend data management systems, bringing data from across the organization into one database. This allows C-suite executives and line managers alike to generate Quality Reports and conduct Performance Analysis.
  • Establishes an integrated Supply Chain — Robust ERP systems extend integration beyond the organization, connecting customer and supplier handling systems to ensure further transparency, complete visibility, and boosting efficiency across your supply chain.

Breaking Down the Components of an ERP Implementation


How an ERP solution is implemented for a business differs from enterprise to enterprise. ERP vendors maximize chances of project success by offering variety of implementation services. These can best be understood in a breakdown of ERP implementation components.

Pre-Deployment Consultation

An ERP solution must encompass as much of the business processes and allow the solution to remain scalable in the foreseeable future. However, many companies are not apt in gathering the requirements and developing the project scope for the solution. The requirements gathering process is pivotal to the success of the solution. Therefore, established vendors and Netsuite partners often take the lead and offer sophisticated GAP analysis (and similar services) to identify opportunities that can improve business processes within budget.

ERP Implementation and Configuration

An ERP solution is not simply software package that needs to be installed across the organization. Every piece of hardware where the software will become functional effectively becomes a node that needs to be configured, monitored, and managed. This requires unique system configurations to map software functionality to specific corporate processes. Hence vendors often manage user setup, define user-based permissions, and establish reporting structures by configuring common document templates.

System-Wide Integrations

ERP can no longer work as standalone enterprise level solutions. There is some level of system integration with existing business systems, e.g. moving sales data from eCommerce to core financial modules or integrating your customer emails to a CRM package, among others. This requires integrating the ERP’s API with the business systems.

Business to ERP Data Migration

To centralize data, it is impertinent that existing organizational data be transferred to the new software. Given that the existing data structures are likely to vary with the ERP’s, and hence become a source of data loss, migrating data becomes a time-consuming challenge. Established ERP vendors often take data structures into account during the consultation phase and leverage their understanding of their software and experience in moving databases to ensure a seamless and efficient migration.

ERP Customizations

ERP solutions are often basic, initially addressing the core functionality of the business (and hence becoming firmly embedded into the enterprise’s operations). It is only later that additional features and functionalities are added through add-ons and task specific functions.

Change Management and User Training

ERP solutions deliver a new and a highly sophisticated software solution. It is often incorporated as an enabling initiative in change management and hence requires extensive training so that the users are able to effectively leverage all its capabilities. This training differs from stakeholder to stakeholder: C-Suite executives will require a different type of training, where as managers, administrators, and others will require different ones to match their job description and level of access to the system.

Training is both mobile and on-job, offering flexibility to employees. It can incorporate a varied types of training resources, ranging from webinars, videos, online learning, hand-on job trainings and more.

In Conclusion — ERP Trends


The Enterprise Resource Planning solutions business has evolved over the decades, from the point where a hand few organizations were willing to implement it, to become an essential component for every SME and larger organizations. Over time, ERP software has been affected by new trends, primarily the following:

  • Mobile ERP — With the rise of smartphones employee mobility has taken to the fore of organizational change management. Executives and employees want real-time access to information, regardless of where they are. Hence, ERP systems will become increasingly mobile, allowing personnel to access it through mobile dashboards.
  • Cloud ERP — The cloud has been advancing steadily into the enterprise for some time, but many ERP users have been reluctant to place data cloud. Those reservations have been fading away with the passing time, however, as the cloud’s advantages become perceptible.
  • Social ERP — Social learning is fast becoming an important consideration in increasing communication and collaboration within the organization. To increase social learning within the organization, vendors offer social packages for ERP.
  • Multi-Tiered ERP — The ultimate task of ERP is considered to take care of every aspect of organizational systems. However, so far such attempts have been expensive and prone to failure. Hence, a new strategy is being adopted, of creating multi-tiered ERP systems.

The one best suited to a business will always depend on the initial assessments when organizational requirements and ERP project scopes are defined.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Simon Reed

CloudTweaks Comics
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