A closer look at the major shifts in the ERP market that will impact industries next year.


Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and their business applications have seen a quantum leap in growth and maturity in recent years with the advent of sophisticated breakthrough technologies. ERP platforms and business applications solutions have evolved to support most business functions, from back-end processes like human resources to front-end functions like eCommerce.

Today, most businesses rely on some form of an ERP application to run their critical business functions. The rate of adoption of ERP applications will see a further increase in the coming years. Gartner estimates that by 2022 the ERP market will be worth $44 billion.

Legacy ERP applications suffer from security limitations and spreadsheet dependencies, amongst other disadvantages. Businesses must strive to keep pace with the rapid advances in the ERP market to ensure their business applications are up to date with the latest capabilities and innovations.  It is thus essential to be fully abreast of the latest trends in the market that have been gaining momentum to stay ahead of the pack.

Let’s explore the top ERP and business applications trends that are likely to re-shuffle the ERP market in 2021.

What’s Next? 6 Key Forecasts for 2021


1. Appetite for ‘Niche’

 One-size-fits-all ERP and their business applications solutions will find less takers in 2021.There is a growing appetite in the market for ‘niche’ solutions, customized for a specific industry. Generic ERP solutions had previously delivered value for large as well as smaller businesses, but the current trend indicates a burning requirement for vertical solutions for businesses.

So, what we will see take centerstage in 2021 is the replacement of common ERP and business applications by personalized, hyper-niche ERP platforms and business applications solutions. These will contain specific features and functionalities optimized for a particular industry, with better and more extensive user-friendly interface and seamless integration of cutting-edge technology such as Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced analytics. This will yield a considerable reduction in capital and maintenance expenditure. However, to balance the flexibility, the ERP platforms, and business applications solutions will have to undergo standardization to avoid compromising on speed-to-market.


2. AI Explosion


Artificial intelligence (AI) has been the talk of the ERP-town for a few years now. In the last 5 years, AI and machine learning (ML) technology has steadily trickled down into every industry, infusing their systems and platforms with new possibilities. 2021 will see an explosive growth of AI in the ERP and business applications landscape.

Until now, businesses needed to invest in installing add-ons to their ERP and business applications to benefit from process automation and intelligence. In 2021, we will see the rise of ‘iERP’ technology- ERP and business applications solutions reinforced with built-in artificial intelligence and process automation functionalities. The signature capability of the new ERP and business applications model  will be innovative data processing that will lead to reduction of errors and information loading time, creation of new workflows, process automation of routine tasks such as account payables, and conversion of complex, unstructured data into actionable insights.

iERP will enable businesses to improve their bottom lines and increase productivity and efficiency.


3. Cloud Acceleration

If the last 5 years were about the heavy lifting of infrastructure to ascent to the cloud, the next 5 will be about innovation in the cloud. The global cloud computing market is poised to grow from $371.4 billion in 2020 to a whopping $832.1 billion by 2025. Much of that growth will gain traction in 2021, spurred on by the ripple effect of the pandemic this year which saw a sudden shutdown of businesses, leading to a surge in demand for sophisticated cloud-driven solutions and platforms.

The cracks and limitations of on-premise ERP and business applications solutions are already on show. Cloud-hoisted ERP and business applications solutions offer more accessibility with lower system upkeep and upgrade costs, and limitless scope for innovation. It is estimated that 32% of IT budgets will be spent on the cloud by 2021 and with ERP and business applications heavyweights such as SAP, Oracle and Microsoft focusing heavily on the cloud, a significant number of companies who were on the fence before will choose to have their ERP and business applications solution in the cloud next year.

With Software as a Service (SaaS) ERP and business applications solutions already dominating the market with the growing adoption of cloud-based models, it can be safely predicted that the cloud will play a significant role in enhancing and transforming current ERP and business applications solutions in near future.


4. Two-Tier System

Traditionally, businesses have resorted to the deployment of a single ERP system across their organization, imposing the central model on their subsidiaries and global offices. This has unsurprisingly proven problematic to implement, costly to roll-out and challenging to sustain. This is where a two-tier ERP system comes into play, as it replaces the one-size-fits-all generic model.

A two-tier ERP system is one of the top trends in ERP which enables businesses to customize their software functionality and deployment according to regional and local requirements. A two-tier system allows firms to retain their investments in existing ERP software at the corporate level (tier 1), while the subsidiaries and smaller business units run on a cloud-based specialized ERP software (tier 2). The two tiers will ideally be integrated to allow seamless data exchange and allow flexibility to respond quickly to market signals.


5. Data-on-the-Go

ERP and business applications vendors have provided mobile support as an ‘extra’ feature for a while now, but in 2021 having your ERP and business applications available on a complimentary mobile application will be the norm. ERP and business applications solutions have evolved to include access to critical business data-on-the-go. This allows employees to get a snapshot of accurately captured data via a user-friendly dashboard, view status of critical workflows from their phones, complete key tasks at home and collaborate with colleagues across the world with a click or two. Mobile ERP and business applications tools will provide a massive boost to agility and productivity for firms.

This anywhere-anytime accessibility to back-end and front-end data in new ERP and business applications tools is a trend that will see an upward swing in the coming year, driven by the unprecedented disruption of the pandemic that has made remote working the new normal.


6. Smart Enterprise Journey Begins

Just as many families have begun their smart home journey ‘connecting’ them within their home (e.g., thermostats, doors/windows, appliances, utilities, lights, audio and security cameras) where they can monitor, analyze, and direct their ‘living’ home automation through their mobile apps and voice-controlled assistants, companies will begin their “Smart Enterprise” journeys in 2021. A Smart Enterprise journey integrates the ERP and business applications 2021 predictions already mentioned above and will add others such as Big Data, IoT devices, and 5G technologies.

Big Data is all set to make a big impact with predictive and prescriptive ML advanced analytics making it possible to mitigate disruptions, such as supply chain shocks, as seen during the pandemic. Advances in ERP and business applications will also have a positive impact on the additive manufacturing space as cloud-hosted ERP and Business Applications tools offer a robust data management solution, which has been a major roadblock in the large-scale adoption of 3D printing technology until now.

Amongst other hot trends to be on the look-out for next year is the fusion of IoT devices with ERP and business applications systems that will enable companies, especially those in the manufacturing and logistics industry, to mine and analyze vast amounts of real-time structured and unstructured data through connected sensors that will help increase top and bottom lines.

5G technologies will accelerate the ERP and business applications hotspots of supply chain innovations. 5G specifications will propel the evolutionary progress of many emerging technology solutions currently being explored such as IoT, real-time visibility, warehouse automation, cloud, and Big Data analytics.


An Exciting Market to Watch

ERP and business Applications are fast-evolving and transforming the way we do business. This is not only true for large enterprises but small and midsize businesses as well. With the rapid amalgamation of new and diverse technologies, this is an exciting space to watch in 2021.

When it comes to the ERP and business applications market, the best is yet to come.

Jon Brizzi

Jon Brizzi


Jon is a Vice President and Partner at Infosys within the Management Consulting Practice. Jon’s primary responsibility is leading the Global ERP & Platforms business. He has 20+ years of experience in ERP leadership roles and with leading ERP enabled business transformation programs. Jon’s extensive practice leadership experiences includes responsibilities for managing practice operations, recruiting, alliance relationships, methods, tools, approaches and development of intellectual property. 

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