Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has long conjured up images of confusion and a falling apart of even the best-laid strategies for business users. ERP systems which typically feature complex user interfaces have done little to improve the productivity of even the most enthusiastic users. Users are forced to spend way too much navigating the system, switching from one window to the next, and across multiple dashboards to access important data and get tasks done.
As organizations have increasingly started to see the drawbacks with an ERP system, they’ve begun to actively seek strategies in which to facilitate the usage of ERP to generate real business outcomes.
Over the years, several organizations have implemented external facing chatbots to interact with customers. You enter an e-commerce website and you’re immediately greeted with a chatbot checking in with you to help you around the online store. And this has proven to be rather successful at engaging customers.
Is there a way to integrate this same, proven technology into employee-facing applications, to facilitate the vast number of internal business applications? It would absolutely revolutionize ERP, Line of Business (LOB), Employee Self Service (ESS) and various other systems.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is essentially a software that is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, and can carry human-like conversations. Conversations between the user and a bot happen via a chat interface using textual or auditory methods.
Bots are usually built using a chatbot platform or frameworks, and deployed on messaging apps like Skype, Skype for Business, Slack, Google Teams etc. or virtual assistants like Alexa, to converse with end-users, via natural language.
Why you should consider integrating chatbots into your ERP System
Make better decisions and quicker
In a cut-throat environment, what sets one organization apart from the rest, is the ability to implement fast decision making that is driven by meaningful insights. By implementing chatbots, you will be able to give decision makers the power to access ERP and business data, without having to switch across multiple screens and dashboards. Data they require can be made available to them incredibly easily, by only having to ask natural-language questions to the ERP bot. Leveraging the power of a bot will mean the drastic simplification of data consumption for decision-makers.
Additionally, if data is too complex to be sent or shared on a chat window, bots can even be designed to provide links to the relevant ERP screen. Bots enable improve decision making across the board, including marketing, sales and finance departments.
All of these teams rely heavily on intelligent decision-making – the role of bots providing them with just the right data they seek, will not only cut time spent on navigation, but will also help them power through the process of deriving relevant insights from the data consumed. Bots can also be used to generate exhaustive reports or specific data-points from any given report.
Bots can also provide information in a format of your choice of consumption – whether that is plain text or rich-media formats, including but not limited to graphs, pie-charts, and others.
Enable efficient mobile access to ERP data
Employees who work remotely will require access to ERP data in an easy-to-consume format. Furthermore, field personnel will require mobile access to ERP data, as well.
Mobile ERP client apps provide remote workforces, typically salespeople and warehouse managers, who are at client sites or freight deports, on-demand insights into resource planning. However, because the screen sizes are so small, it can be rather challenging to access data.
It is especially important that they are able to access the required data, within seconds and with ease. While on the ‘field’, so to speak, they will not have the time to navigate through endless reports. They require data and insights in as little time as possible. Integrating a chatbot interface enables your ERP users to access your ERP data through a single field.
Chatbots address this time and location challenge for businesses, by generating quick answers via natural language questions.
By introducing chatbots to ERP, you can receive personalized alerts, and act on the alert from a device of your choosing – whether that is a computer or mobile device. These alerts enable users to immediately spring into action and request for more information or potential solutions on addressing the alert. Needless to say, this use case will have a plethora of applications across various departments of an organization.
Automating ERP Data Input
A major expense of any organization still revolves around data inputs. Several members of the workforce are dedicated their time to an exhausting process of manually inputting data. This often results in data redundancy and entering incorrect data. Leveraging the power of bots which are driven by AI will greatly reduce the time it takes to input and change data.
Bots will do all of the groundwork in data mining, modification and submitting relevant data into the records, after eliminating repeated entries. Your employees can save time spent on mind-numbing activities of eliminating repeated/incorrect entries, and focus on activities that facilitate organization growth instead!
Improved User Experience and Adoption
Because of the complexities of using an ERP system and the dismal user experience, they fail to garner high adoption rates. This is typically why most ERP systems fail. However, your ERP investment can deliver the results you are looking for, by introducing bots.
Bots behave as a nearly human-like representative of the ERP system by being available on demand, 24/7, at the tip of the user’s fingers, and across various devices. They also act as a single platform for accessing ERP data, updating data, generating reports and receiving personalized alerts. All of these factors work together to improve end-user experience tremendously, which subsequently results in increased adoption rates.
In addition to the ERP, chatbots have various applications across other business systems as well, including but not limited to, LOB, Business Intelligence, CRM and so on. The bottomline is this: chatbots get you the information and insights you require to make intelligent, everyday business decisions and craft organizational strategies that have the potential to revolutionize the growth trajectory for your business.