The business intelligence metrics that typically accompany ERP systems out of the box present data from the past, such as a summary of past transactions. With the Industrial Internet of Things, we can expect to see metrics that show the present reality and enable true, actionable business intelligence.

Granted, machine maintenance software that provides real-time monitoring has been around for a long time, especially in the process industry. But these are local solutions. The Internet of Things makes location irrelevant so companies can keep an eye on machine operations anywhere in the world.

Beyond machine maintenance management, the Internet of Things enables social analytics and a direct interface with customers. The instant availability of data about customers and the market creates a live feed of sorts, similar to a TV news channel. This will greatly help managers make sound tactical decisions for distribution supply chains, shop floor schedules and sourcing.

In this new world, business intelligence metrics will drive ERP parameter changes directly, turning ERP from a “system of record” into a “system of intelligence.” The ERP system will be able to generate direct recommendations — based on real-time, accurate data — for factory floor and supply chain managers.

And deploying advanced business intelligence capabilities is easier than ever. Today’s ERP systems, with much of their functionality in the cloud, are not a strictly defined set of modules. Instead, many offer marketplaces that allow users to shop for and seamlessly add new applications for functions like advanced business intelligence.

Prioritize Cybersecurity


Cybersecurity is a clear and legitimate concern for manufacturers, and with more products connected than ever before with the rise of the Internet of Things, it must be prioritized. But the Internet of Things is a new reality of life, and manufacturers should not shy away because of any real or perceived security risks. Instead, they should couple their proactive approach to adopting new technology with an equally aggressive approach to cybersecurity.

Performing a cybersecurity risk assessment, annual or biannual penetration testing — in which security professionals attempt to break into a manufacturer’s IT systems or applications to identify deficiencies — and monthly vulnerability scanning are best practices to ensure ongoing data security. However, with the advent of the Internet of Things, manufacturers employing this technology must also make sure that they are including these devices in their risk assessment and security testing activities. Additionally, it’s important that manufacturers have a crisis response plan prepared in case of a breach. Having legal and communications advisers lined up and a detailed action plan for proactive outreach to both customers and the press will enable manufacturers to ably handle any crisis.

Maximize ERP Potential in an IoT World

While some manufacturers are already realizing the efficiency gains, cost savings and competitive benefits of the Industrial Internet of Things, others have been slower adopters. However, the stage is set for manufacturers of all sizes to revolutionize their businesses and ERP operations with the Internet of Things. Today, manufacturers have the tools at their fingertips to embrace the Internet of Things, realize efficiency gains and supercharge their businesses.

Evert Bos is a technical fellow for Microsoft Dynamics 365 operations in Sikich‘s technology practice.

This article originally appeared in IndustryWeek.