In our series exploring opportunities for wholesale business growth next year, we look at the significant impact timely adoption of the right software can have on business productivity and profitability. Sustainable growth will rely on technological solutions that simplify, streamline and inform the business.

Turn data mountains into molehills
Gaining complete business-wide insight from data generated in one system is the ideal. However, it is by definition far from easy to achieve. ERP systems generate a huge amount of information, the raw data needing experience, expertise and time investment to create workable calls to action. With time at a premium and decisions needing to be made quickly, businesses need tools to do the work for them. Cue the dashboard.

Dashboards turn reams of complex information into easy to read charts, graphs and schematics, helping people to gain the information they need at-a-glance. Based on pre-defined KPIs, they do the work of teams of data analysts in the blink of an eye. Continually updated by real-time business information, they make it easy for leaders to base decisions on what’s happening right now – removing the necessity to place trust in shaky conclusions drawn from piles of reports on a previous business reality. When data and decisions run together, the right calls are easier to make.

Embrace freedom and flexibility
Mobile applications will be a great help to controllers and decision makers needing business critical information on the move – at customers, suppliers and travelling in between. Demand to get more done in less time means none can be wasted. Company information via phones or tablets will help wholesalers make the right choices when dealing with key people throughout their supply chain. Real-time stock, current cash, order trends or delivery data during discussions with key players empowers good decision making.

Employees can also be set up to work remotely when appropriate – reducing dependence on ‘the physical office’, giving a greater sense of freedom and flexibility in their work lives, and helping businesses reduce their travel load and carbon footprint. A motivated, energetic workforce who feels empowered to deliver is certainly one of the most important requirements for delivering growth in these challenging times.

Smaller businesses can aim high
The explosion of possibilities in the cloud offers a range of options for smaller SMEs. The invent of dedicated full-suite wholesale SaaS ERP solutions is a major example. This technology offers full process coverage for small businesses on a simple, relatively low-cost, per-month pricing basis. In addition to full access from any internet connection, SaaS products require no consultancy fees for implementation and are free from update procedures. With this functionality and flexibility available at a dramatically lower price point than with traditional ERP systems, small businesses suddenly have the tools for new levels of insight and efficiency – a key step towards generating significant growth.

The barriers to traditional ERP are coming down
Innovation in the traditional ERP sphere is also impacting the smaller end of the mid-size market. On-premise ERP vendors are now beginning to move to a monthly pricing structure – similar to that seen with SaaS. This dramatically lowers the investment barrier associated with these types of solutions, the large upfront license fees removed from the equation.

This scenario will undoubtedly widen the market – young, ambitious growth-focused businesses now able to fund the support they need to successfully expand their operations. The on-premise solutions remain significantly more powerful than their cloud competitors because of their flexibility and customizability, and with implementation in a hosted environment now also available (in effect giving them the same internet access as cloud hosted products), they’ll remain the solution of choice for the complexity of most companies above 50 employees.