Among IDC's Worldwide Software Business Solutions 2011Top 10 Predictions: The Hyperconnected Enterprise, we noted the convergence of on-line commerce with traditional creating a whole new customer experience, and offered that "focuing on customer experience, the proliferation of text aware mobile apps, and the emergence of social tools will lead to an innovation in commerce experience that is a hybrid of social, mobile, online and brick and mortar."
Data points that suggest this growing trend of an increasingly seamless interplay between on-line and traditional commerce are emerging everywhere, both in B2C and in B2B. I spoke a couple of weeks ago with Michael Griffiths, Product Director for Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail about his experiences at NRF (the annual National Federation of Retailers conference), held January 9th-12th in New York City where Microsoft announced its Dynamics AX for Retail R2 release. "Many of the things we are seeing with our customers are about empowering the consumer, cross-channel shopping, social networking, utilizing Twitter." But Mr. Griffiths also saw a not-so-subtle shift in emphasis at NRF this year compared to last. "NRF last year was all about 'the connected retail experience'. This year was all about 'redefining the customer experience.'"
While Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail R2 looks to capitalize on this trend with new point-of-sale, store management, supply chain, merchandising and financials functionality, other enterprise applications vendors are also strengthening their eCommerce offerings, both organically and through acquisition. In November, Oracle announced the acquisition of Art Technology Group to strengthen its CRM and cross-channel eCommerce offerings. On the sourcing side, while SAP Sourcing OnDemand and Oracle Procurement OnDemand infuse collaboration technologies and embedded analytics to provide sourcing professionals with the information they need when they need it, in the context of their workflow and user interface, sourcing vendors Ariba, Emptoris, BravoSolution and Coupa are pushing their own combinations of social, mobile and spend analytics to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
How does all this tie in with recent research by Geoffrey Moore, noted author of Crossing the Chasm and most recently Dealing with Darwin? Perfectly. In fact, as so ably articulated by Mr. Moore, speaking at Emptoris' user conference in September, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in the emphasis of innovation in Enterprise IT that can be summed up quite simply as "from one about systems of record to today one about systems of engagement." By systems of record, Mr. Moore is describing those systems that are all about automation, and creating a single source of truth -- in essence the ERP systems that we have today. Those systems have matured to the point that they are no longer considered as creating competitive advantage, but are now the table stakes for doing business in today's global economy, no matter the size of the company. Where once ERP systems were reserved only for large enterprises, today's ERP SaaS vendors -- in a market that is flourishing -- are making these systems available and affordable to small businesses.
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