Is ERP converging with Social Media?

It’s a serious issue confronting the business software industry of which ERP is a large part. Generation Y, the children of the Baby Boomers, are hitting the workforce right now and they have a completely different outlook to their parents. They are steeped in the immediacy of the internet, the speed and variety of communications Twitter, Facebook, Skype, itune and Instant Messenger (IM). They have instant everything, choose the information they want and personalise the way that it is delivered. Their leisure use of the internet bears no resemblance to the clunky and inert user experience which is commonplace in the business world.
But the transformation facing the business world is not gimmicky. It’s not about paying lip service to social media, adding a Twitter Feed here or a Facebook link there. It is early days but the world of Social Media has a huge amount to offer business and should not be dismissed as a fad. Recent reports that 500 million people used Facebook on a single day is a phenomenon which cannot be ignored.
One software house that is taking the Social Media revolution very seriously is Infor, the third largest ERP vendor in the world. Following a recent management shakeup it has invested heavily in product differentiation and Social Media capability is a big part of its strategy going forward.
Work started around 18 months ago with the a commitment to a completely new interface. “We want our software to look beautiful!” exclaimed Duncan Angove, Infor’s president of products and support at the launch of Infor10 last week in London. That’s not a bad place to start if you are trying to grab the attention of Generation Y. Indeed the new interface which pervades Infor’s products is attractive – (they used a specialist design house rather than a bunch of techies and it shows). But the clever stuff is the functionality that they have added.