Wondering why I have chosen to use the names of one of the world’s greatest marathoners (Abebe Bikila), and the modern day sprint king (Usain Bolt) as the title of my post? Simply put, I found the marathon and the sprint are apt to describe the way, IMHO, how two of the most transformative business trends (ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning and KRP i.e., Knowledge Resource Planning) have been / are being shaped and adopted by businesses, worldwide.

 

Before I illustrate, I invite you to take a crack at these two questions:

 

Organizations first started using ERP’s earliest predecessor, Enterprise Information Systems (or EIS for short), in the …
A. 1980s
B. 1970s
C. 1960s

SAP today is a global behemoth and synonymous with ERP. SAP launched the R/1, its first Financial Accounting System in …
A. 1993
B. 1983
C. 1973

 

If your option was “C” for both the questions, you deserve a pat on the back.

 

It’s hard to believe that what was considered a “backroom” activity in the 60s when its first avatar (“EIS”) was born, has today transformed into what is commonly known today as ERP. (Check out the infographic on SAP, the ERP biggie’s development over the years, here). This transition however, has taken many decades and things have arguably moved somewhat slowly in this (ERP) space… quite similar to a marathon. (Coincidentally, 2015 marks 42 years since SAP’s first system was launched and just over 42 kms is also the distance of a full marathon that Bikila was the master at).

 

Fast forward to today. The INFORMATION that ERP helps consolidate, while useful to organizations, is no longer sufficient; KNOWLEDGE is today’s currency. The way organizations create & share knowledge, monitor its consumption and measure outcomes in real-time rapidly, just as in a sprint, is what separates winners and losers.

 

Let’s take the example of a new product launch. It’s no longer enough for the corporate headquarters to know what stocks are where and which ones are being consumed / replenished and at what rate (which ERP can help with). In addition to this data, it is actionable insights and learning and sharing information in “real time” from the field that is even more valuable. For instance, product inventory is usually only accessible when an order is placed; critical information such as product expiry dates are usually not accessible and what customers are saying qualitatively is not available – but they can be collected through technology now. Other crucial information could include information about where employees rank in product knowledge and awareness of competitor’s products, how to cascade learnings from the sales staff in one geography across the organization, how to share best practices, how to quickly share ideas and innovation from the field, etc.

 

It is these elements that KRP or Knowledge Resource Planning addresses by leveraging the power of Cloud, Video, Mobile, and Data Analytics. A KRP system’s goal is to help organizations collect, measure and analyze knowledge, and quickly place it in a relevant (right place & right time) context, where it becomes the most useful.

 

While ERP’s journey from the “backroom” to becoming a critical driver of an organization’s success took many decades, KRP’s development to becoming a “must-have” for every organization – no matter what its size, is happening at a very fast pace on account of its direct correlation to an organization’s top and bottom-line. This transition is happening in “Internet time” and is not taking decades. I expect integration cycles and associated costs will be crunched and setting aside massive expenses and hundreds of man-hours with multiple teams for these deployments, will be a thing of the past.

 

KRP minimizes the complexity and cost associated with deployment while maximizing returns, which in turn can drive extremely high levels of adoption – all of this, at sprint speed.

 

Usain Bolt would be proud.

(Watch this space for more on what Linkstreet is doing in the near future)