Social ERP – Happening or Hype

Jun, 09. 2015

ID-100152996 - Social Media

Social media isn’t a term that’s generally associated with ERP – but what are the benefits and is it possible and to fuse the old with the new, bringing your traditional BPCS / LX system right up to date?

We know the benefits of social tools, they can mimic the ways in which employees interact with technology outside of work and can offer enhanced capabilities for real-time collaboration.  The millennial generation of employees have a high expectation of the business systems their organisation gives them to use so perhaps it is not beyond the realms of possibility to expect them to be utilised within an ERP environment.

By definition ERP systems are process driven, formal and structured but, by its very nature, social media data is unstructured, flexible and re-active.  So, are we complicating matters by trying to incorporate social elements it into an already complex system?  What benefits can a manufacturing company making widgets gain from implementing Social Media into their ERP?

As we all know, the heart of an ERP system is manufacturing but what about the other areas that are integrated such as distribution, personnel, project management, payroll and financials? ….  If we then think about applying social media tools to each of these areas there are some easy applications, for example talent acquisition in personnel and team collaboration in project management but that still leaves manufacturing, distribution and financials – what advantage can they gain from using social media tools?

The main benefit of social tools is the real-time communication, it allows people to communicate and share information faster and more effectively inside and outside the organisation.  The lines often blur as customers and employees see Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as just extensions of ways to connect with the company.  Of course, the benefit for social integration with CRM is huge.  Team members can collaborate and share information as well as tagging customer feedback, online comments or forum posts all on to one customer file.

In Shankararaman’s white paper, he talks about the need to multi-layer the social media technologies when integrating them with your ERP.  For example, in the ERP layer you can use blogs and wikis to share best practice and processes.  It is only when you expose the processes through a Business Process layer, that you can then customise the interaction via tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

Sharing content and communicating via wikis and blogs is easy to build into ERP systems but is that really Social ERP?  B2C organisations can probably find it easier to implement Social ERP within multi-channel retail and tracking social media interaction with specific consumers / consumer groups but how about B2B businesses – is it truly possible to fuse  social media elements into their ERP systems?

We would love to hear your comments and, if you know of any real-life examples of Social ERP in a B2B environment, whether just “inside” the organisation or interacting with customers, suppliers and influencers, then please share!

Image courtesy of Kromkrathog at freedigitalphotos.net


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