ERP Access From Any Device - Getting the Most out of ERP Systems (Part 2/4)
When working with an ERP system such as SAP Business One, what do employees require in order to be most productive, and what do IT Admins need to provide them?
Welcome to Part 2 in our 4-part series on providing clientless, browser-based access to ERP systems, from any device, anywhere. In Part 1, I touched on issues and challenges related to enterprise resource planning (ERP), software. In Part 2, we’ll discuss the growing popularity of ERPs in the Cloud, the beauty of HTML5 for browser-based, ubiquitous access, local resources access, and more.
How to Maximize ERP Productivity: 101
To be productive when accessing an ERP, employees require the following elements: Seamless access to the full ERP system, including all dashboards, customizations and third party add-ins, and the ability to work with almost any device, including Windows PCs, Macs, Linux, iPads / iPhones, Android devices, Google Chromebooks, etc. Additionally, employees need fast, smooth access, including over slow, low-bandwidth connections, to all kinds of local resources such as the client device file system, clipboard and printer.
In the mobile age, providing access to cloud-based ERP systems is becoming an increasingly popular choice by many organizations. In fact, the number of enterprises that have upgraded or plan to replace their ERP systems with SaaS has doubled percent in the past year. Cloud-based ERP systems are generally hosted by a managed service provider on external servers, eliminating the need for the organization’s internal IT department to maintain the software on-premises.
According to a recent Gartner survey analysis[i], "Adoption of Cloud ERP, 2013 Through 2023", organizations are considering cloud-based ERP as a potential replacement for aging core systems that are out of support or running on old technology platforms. A few key findings in the survey below indicate an interest in the cloud.
- Including the 2% that already have core ERP in the cloud, a total of 47% of organizations surveyed plan to move core ERP systems to the cloud within five years.
- 30% of organizations surveyed indicated they planned to keep the majority of their ERP systems on-premise for the foreseeable future.
Not all ERP systems can be truly web-enabled; as a result, managed service providers frequently find themselves having to rely on remote access solutions to provide access to the cloud-hosted ERP software. This approach often uses Remote Desktop Client technology to ensure a secure connection. Often this requires installing client software on end-user devices, creating more work for IT departments. Moreover, these clients are usually device or platform-specific, adding to the complexity and overhead of maintaining and installing client updates.
Cloud -based ERP can be part of the answer – but not the entire solution.
HTML5 Browser-Based Access – The Right Choice
A browser-based access approach that utilizes HTML5 technology is as an ideal complement to on-premises or cloud-ERP. For as it provides access to ERP entirely from within the browser – there is nothing to install on the endpoint device – significantly reducing IT overhead. In fact, HTML5 access addresses all of the above-mentioned challenges:
No downloads required. As mentioned before, client software must typically be installed on desktops, laptops and mobile devices to facilitate access to centrally hosted desktops and applications. With HTML5, organizations can achieve pure browser-based access to these resources. All they need is a device with an HTML5-compliant browser.
- Simplified deployment. All software requires periodic updates. When software is installed as a native client, each and every endpoint device in the organization must be updated. In sharp contrast, HTML5 browser-based access only requires embedding browser-based software into corporate portals by adding a link or a frame – easy – this means no client device software update is necessary.
- Simplified integration with SSL VPNs. These secure virtual private networks are based on the Secure Sockets Layer protocol–they can be used with both native clients and browser-based solutions. With an HTML5 browser based solution, access to centrally hosted tools is easy and automatic, whereas opening up communication channels to native clients on many devices can be quite an undertaking, requiring significant support.
- Device-agnostic. HTML5 is already supported by virtually all browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. As such, enabling access from anywhere and on any device is effortless.
- IT department relief. HTML5 solutions reduce hardware and mobile costs by leveraging both employee-owned devices and IT technologies that are designed to lower IT support and overhead.
- Helpdesk friendly. A browser-based solution fits all devices, significantly reducing support issues and simplifying configurations.
- Security. Since no information is stored on the endpoint device, data is never compromised if the device is lost or stolen.
Stay tuned for Part 3 – I’ll be getting into the specifics of a use-case concerning AccessNow, a high performance HTML5, browser-based remote desktop client for ERPs.
Gartner, "Adoption of Cloud ERP, 2013 Through 2023", January 24, 2014, as cited in Forbes.com