Thanks to technology, the human attention span is at an all-time low. According to a study by Microsoft, our attention span has shrunk from 12 seconds in 2000 to a mere 8 seconds in 2019. With all the technology available at our fingertips, humans have become used to instant gratification. In fact, Google even found that more than half of mobile users will abandon a site if it takes longer than just 3 seconds to load.
Our need for immediate answers extends even into data, where real-time data—or data that is presented as it is acquired—has done away with nightly batch uploads and long waits for files to be delivered. Real-time data is considered the most accurate information available, enabling your business to make the quick decisions it needs to move the business forward and positively impact the bottom line.
Real-time data may be collected from many areas of a company. All this data must flow through one central point—such as ERP business software—so it can be presented in a logical, orderly, and usable fashion such as graphs, charts, and/or reports.
The Value of Real-Time Data
Perhaps the biggest value in real-time data is mitigating the risk of wait time for information. If your competitors access real-time data through their cloud-based ERP business software and you don’t, you run the risk of falling behind in the race to the top.
Without real-time shipping data, for example, you’ll be unable to update customers on their order status. They’ll wonder why your company cannot provide them with the exact location of the shipment in transit when Competitor XYZ can give them that information. And, in the future, they may choose to go with Competitor XYZ if that company provides them with better information and service.
The Internet of Things (IoT) provides real-time data from many aspects of a business that were once difficult to track. For example, in a manufacturing environment, data from censors in equipment relay their status back to a central database. The company can monitor which equipment requires servicing, which remains idle, and which continues on schedule.
This level of sophisticated data is what now sets companies apart from the average business.
Five Surprising Insights to Gain From Real-Time Data
Although you may have ERP business software, you might not actually have real-time data. Some systems promise real-time data but instead mean the data automatically feeds into the system on a specific schedule. It’s not like older systems that required manual updates, but it’s still not the best available.
The best systems do indeed update immediately into an ERP. Software such as Sage 300cloud provides true real-time data with excellent integration with other software for unparalleled data availability. But immediate access to data comes with some additional benefits you may not have thought about:
- Accurate scheduling: Manufacturers and other businesses that rely upon scheduling equipment will find that one of the first benefits of real-time data is more accurate scheduling. When you can view what is happening on the shop floor, in the warehouse, and in the dispatch unit of fleet vehicles in real-time, you can make improvements to the schedule: tighten up timelines, improve estimates, and provide better information to your customers about expected delivery dates. It’s all improved, thanks to real-time data.
- Errors spotted immediately: It can be costly to allow errors to continue. With real-time data, you can stop production if too many items are rejected for quality issues. The same goes for shipments arriving in the warehouse. If too many arrive damaged, you can stop inbound shipments from that vendor and call to request improved packaging, for example, to cushion the items in transit. These may seem like small improvements, but they quickly add up to time and cost savings.
- Service improves dramatically: Up-to-the-minute shipping information has become the expected norm thanks to companies like Amazon who have raised the bar on customer expectations. If your company does not provide accurate and timely information in response to customer inquiries, they will take their business elsewhere. Real-time data flowing through an ERP system into customer service or sales departments ensures that the response the service team gives matches what the salespeople tell customers. Overall service improves dramatically which leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction.
- Cost-savings: Consider your warehouse for a moment. The inventory of raw materials, partially finished products, or finished goods changes every minute as items are scanned into and out of inventory and shipped to customers. If your inventory data is out of date, you may over- or under-order products. Over ordering leads to too much money invested into inventory with little excess capital for other projects. By using real-time data to manage inventory levels, you’ll be able to keep stock levels consistent without wasting money ordering excess inventory.
- Enhanced sales and marketing data: Real-time sales and marketing data provides great insights into customer trends, sales trends, and more. With this information, you can make better decisions about sales (put those laggards on clearance) and promotions (promote what’s hot and sell more.) The sales team can reach out proactively to customers because customer information is updated; they know who has been in touch and why and can spot trends in customer queries or problems. The marketing department can also use real-time data to maximize promotional opportunities. All this leads to higher sales and enhanced revenue.
Why You Need to Invest in the Right ERP Solution
When it comes to real-time data, it pays to invest in the best ERP business software you can afford. A good ERP system:
- Integrates easily with other software: Using APIs or other technology, a good ERP system easily integrates with your existing software or critical programs such as Word, Excel, and others. Look for ERPs compatible with the programs you deem essential to your business.
- Expands with your business: ERP systems that offer enhancements such as HR and CRM capabilities can grow along with your business to add features as you need them.
- Provides automation: Automated processes, including automated alerts and reports, offer considerable time-saving benefits. Review the automation features in any ERP system under consideration.
- Reporting: Most ERP systems come with reporting features but be sure to review the reports before committing to the ERP system. Some come with better data visualization features than others.
- Basics: Make sure the ERP you’re considering includes the basics—accounting, finance, operations. Some look like glorified accounting programs. A true ERP offers a robust overview of your business from numerous angles.
- Visibility: Real-time data means enhanced visibility into every part of your company. Some systems enable users to customize dashboard features so people can access the information they use most frequently right from their desktop. Others allow role-based access and/or limits.
Real-Time Data With Cloud ERPs and PositiveVision
With so much depending on your ability to access information, the benefits of real-time data cannot be underestimated. Cloud-based ERPs are designed to meet the demanding needs of your diverse business environment. Get unprecedented flexibility, customization, and scalability with seamless integration, all with a solution like Sage 300cloud from PositiveVision.
As the partner of choice for many organizations in the greater Chicago area and beyond, PositiveVision is here to help you grow and take your ERP business software from where it is now to where you truly need it to be. Find out how we can help move you to the cloud. Talk to one of our consultants today.