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ERP Adoption: Setting Expectations for a First-Time Success

So, you’ve finally decided it’s time to shift gears and move to an ERP software solution to take your business to the next level. Starting your first enterprise-level software implementation can feel pretty overwhelming for any business owner. The good news is that professional ERP implementation teams have performed this migration process for businesses like yours hundreds of times; they know where the landmines are. 

Still, it takes planning, coordination, and effort to get your company to the finish line and beyond. Knowing what you’re getting into and what’s expected can really help make the whole process smoother. This guide is here to help you along the way, breaking down the roles and responsibilities of both your organization and those of your experienced implementation team. 

Let’s walk you through what an ideal implementation looks like and how to work together effectively to ensure everything goes off without a hitch.

Implementation Team Responsibilities

Your experienced ERP implementation team takes a consultative role and drives the successful deployment of the ERP system. Here’s what they do:

1. Project Management

Scope and Planning: The implementation team is responsible for defining the written project scope, setting timelines, and planning each phase of the implementation. This includes creating a detailed project calendar with key milestones and deliverables.

Coordination and Communication: Effective communication is essential. The team ensures that all stakeholders are informed about progress, potential issues, and any changes to the project plan.

2. System Setup and Customization

System Configuration: After significant and ongoing consultation with your business’ department heads and priority stakeholders, the implementation team configures the ERP system to meet your specific needs, setting up workflows, user permissions, and the like.

Customization: Some companies may charge extra for developing complex reports and customizations, but most all-in-one ERP systems run right out of the box. You may decide some level of customization is helpful to more closely align your new ERP system with your unique business processes. 

3. Data Migration

Data Assessment and Cleaning: Before migration, the team assesses the quality of your existing data, scrubbing and massaging it to ensure accuracy. Garbage in, garbage out.

Data Migration: They develop and execute a systematic data migration plan based on your ongoing needs, testing to confirm data integrity and completeness.

4. Pre-Cutover

System Verification: Make sure the initial ERPsystem config meets the written project scope, and review any items uncovered during initial testing to identify those that may require additional enhancement or priority development. 

Training: To get your employees ready to use the new system, the implementation team offers training programs tailored to different user roles.

5. Post-Rollout

Ongoing Support: Post-implementation, the team is there to support and work through any issues, answer questions, and ensure smooth system operation. Some companies offer paid levels of premium or priority support.

Responsibilities of Your Organization

Failure is not an option! For a successful ERP implementation, your company must actively participate and take on several key responsibilities:

1. Executive Sponsorship and Leadership

Executive Support: Senior leadership must actively support the project, allocating necessary resources and driving the strategic vision.

Project Champion: Assign a project champion with the authority to make decisions, resolve issues, and meet project milestones.

2. Clear Requirements and Goals

Needs Assessment: With your implementation team’s guidance, conduct a thorough needs assessment to define clear goals and requirements for your ERP system. This includes identifying key functionalities and expected outcomes.

Process Documentation: Clearly document all requirements, workflows, and processes. This provides a clear reference for the implementation team and can be included in the project scope.

Success Metrics: What does success look like to you? Define success metrics that all teams agree on and regularly track them.

3. Dedicated Project Team

Inter-Departmental Team: Establish your internal implementation project team with members from each area to provide insights and feedback.

Time Commitment: Make sure those team members can dedicate sufficient time to the project to avoid delays and miscommunications. This is a key hurdle. Any delays would come from the business’ level of commitment and responsiveness, not the implementation team’s.

4. Change Management

Communication: Develop a communication strategy to inform and engage employees throughout the implementation process, explaining the benefits and impact of the new system.

Managing Resistance: Address resistance proactively by involving employees in the process, seeking their input, and providing support. Your implementation team can share some strategies.

5. Data Prep

Data Quality: Work with your team to ensure your data is clean, accurate, and consistent before migration. This involves removing duplicates and correcting errors.

Data Ownership: Assign data stewards responsible for maintaining data quality and integrity during and after migration, as well as who has access to what information.

6. User Training and Adoption

Training Participation: Ensure employees participate in training sessions and lean into the learning process. (You know the ones who will be the most change resistant.)

Feedback Mechanism: Establish mechanisms for employees to provide feedback on the training and the ERP system.

Final Thoughts

ERP implementation is a complex and challenging process, especially for those new to it. However, with clear responsibilities, a structured approach, and effective collaboration, it can be successful and rewarding. Keep your eyes on the prize. Both the implementation team and your organization must work closely together, leveraging their strengths to ensure the ERP system delivers its full potential.

The Top 10 Best Contractor Management Software Solutions: 2024 Edition

The Top 10 Best Contractor Management Software Solutions: 2024 Edition

In today’s fast-paced and increasingly outsourced business environment, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often rely on contractors to fulfill various operational needs. Managing these contractors effectively is crucial to maintaining productivity and ensuring compliance with legal and contractual obligations. 

Contractor management software can be a game-changer for SMBs, simplifying and enhancing the process of working with external vendors and freelancers. 

Here are 10 reasons your business should consider implementing contractor and subcontractor management software:

  • Centralized Information Management: Contractor management software centralizes all information related to contractors, including contracts, contact information, work orders, and payment details, making it easy to access and manage.
  • Streamlined Onboarding: Automate and streamline the process of onboarding new contractors, ensuring that all necessary documentation and credentials are collected and stored efficiently.
  • Compliance and Regulatory Adherence: Ensure compliance with industry regulations and labor laws by maintaining an organized record of all contractor agreements and compliance documents.
  • Enhanced Security Measures: Control access to sensitive company information by implementing robust security measures within the software, which can be customized to limit contractor access to only what is necessary.
  • Improved Contractor Performance Monitoring: General contractor management software lets you track and evaluate the performance of contractors, facilitating feedback and continuous improvement in the quality of work.
  • Automated Payment Processes: Automate invoicing and payments to contractors, reducing errors and delays while improving financial transparency.
  • Risk Management: Identify and mitigate risks associated with contractor work, such as non-compliance, project delays, or quality issues, by having structured oversight and monitoring tools.
  • Efficient Resource Allocation: Allocate and track resources and budgets more effectively by having detailed insights into contractor costs and timelines.
  • Better Communication Tools: Enhance communication with contractors through integrated messaging systems, ensuring that all parties are informed and aligned on project goals and updates.
  • Scalability: As your business grows, contractor management software can scale to accommodate an increasing number of contractors and more complex projects, supporting your SMB’s expansion without the need for additional administrative resources.

By using contractor and subcontractor management software, your business can achieve higher efficiency, better compliance, and improved contractor relationships, all of which are indispensable for sustaining and growing your business in a competitive market.

For a lot of growing businesses, it’s not always easy to find the right general contractor management software solution. With so many choices out there, it can be hard to know which sales and general contractor management software really fits the budget and unique needs of your business and your industry.

Don’t worry, there’s good news—finding the contractor project management software for your business has never been easier.

We’re here to help. Our software experts have compiled a comprehensive breakdown of The Top 12 Best Contractor Management Software Solutions of 2024.

*Note: Our contractor management software reviews are for informational purposes only. We encourage you to perform research and demo contractor project management software systems to achieve the most comprehensive comparison.

1. Striven

Striven Logo

Striven is an all-in-one ERP business management software solution built with small to mid-market businesses in mind. Our sophisticated software combines contractor and subcontractor project management tools, CRM, sales performance metrics, lead tracking, collaboration tools, accounting, purchasing, HR and payroll, operations, inventory, task management tools, (and so much more) into a single, easy-to-use interface. Striven is an infinitely capable software solution that supports every type of employee within your company.

Highlights:

  • Project, task, and time management w/ interactive calendar
  • Detailed financial and productivity reports generated in seconds
  • Fully integrated CRM
  • Contractor and subcontractor management
  • Self-service portals
  • Scheduling & dispatch route planning
  • Fully integrated accounting
  • Process optimization & automation

What Sets It Apart: Striven’s expert team of business analysts personally see to your success. From training and onboarding, technical support, and business-specific customizations, our US-based Striven Support Team is available 24/7. On top of that, Striven’s automation capabilities allow you to work more efficiently.

Pricing: Free trial and custom demo, packages begin at $35/user.

More info:  Striven Earns Numerous Awards For Q4 2023

2. Contractor Compliance

contractor compliance logo striven alternative

Contractor Compliance is a cloud-based contractor management software that empowers organizations to easily collect, track and manage third-party contractor and vendor compliance requirements.

Highlights:

  • Automate workflows
  • Contractor scoring
  • Contractor compliance modules

What Sets It Apart: Through both iOS or Android, workers of respective contractors can check in to defined facilities and show a time stamped badge to demonstrate compliance.

Pricing: Plans start at $499/year.

3. Jobber

General contractor management software like Jobber helps project managers send estimates, organize job details, schedule technicians and specialty contractors, and provide a better customer experience—from the office or the job site.

Highlights:

  • Jobber connects with your favorite apps and software to save you time.
  • QBO sync
  • Marketing and AI tools

What Sets It Apart: Jobber makes it easy for customers to refer friends online, and to thank service pros with a tip.

Pricing: Starts at $69/month.

4. Workday

workday logo striven alternative

Workday empowers small to medium businesses like yours to face uncertainty and change with unwavering confidence. Finance, HR, planning, payroll, and analytics work as one to streamline processes, accelerate growth, and even uncover new opportunities.

Highlights:

  • Deploy at lower cost and lower risk
  • Realize rapid time-to-value
  • Flexible costing and automated billing

What Sets It Apart: Workday’s ‘Launch’ program gets your business live quickly so you can get, and stay, ahead faster.

Pricing: From $10/seat/mo.

 

5. Workmarket

workmarket logo striven alternative

Workmarket contractor management software lets you onboard, verify, and pay your independent contractors (1099 workers, freelancers) efficiently and compliantly. Plus, leverage our platform to manage the details of the work to help ensure timely completion.

Highlights:

  • Attract top-tier talent
  • Improve compliance
  • Quickly identify the right workers for the right jobs

What Sets It Apart: Onboard, organize, and pay at scale—painlessly and with competitive automation features.

Pricing: Contact Workmarket for pricing details.

6. Remote

remote logo striven alternative

Remote subcontractor management software lets you manage international contractor status, contracts, time off, invoices, payments, tax forms and more.

Highlights:

  • Enable contractors to add their own details and verify their identity
  • Easy reporting and tax filing
  • Create, edit, sign localized contracts

What Sets It Apart: With Remote, your contractors can get access to exclusive health benefits and perks at discounted rates.

Pricing: From $29 /contractor/mo.

Read More: If you’re outgrowing Quickbooks, you need to read this

7. Deel

With Deel Contractor Management contractor project management software, onboard, manage and pay international contractors compliantly.

Highlights:

  • Financial automation capabilities
  • Withdraw payments in 150 currencies including Crypto, Wise, Revolut and more.
  • Global-first, integrated HR system

What Sets It Apart: Deel’s always-on compliance has an award-winning risk management department.

Pricing: Business Package: $12.00 /member /mo.

8. Payzer

payzer logo striven alternative

Payzer general contractor management software helps you operate better because we care more. Experience seamless workflows from appointment to payment, and everything in between.

Highlights:

  • Drag & drop scheduling
  • Dispatching & navigation
  • QuickBooks sync

What Sets It Apart: Leverage the power of real-time alerts, geofencing, easy-install devices, vehicle cameras, and AI capabilities to optimize driver and vehicle performance.

Pricing: Starts at $349/month.

9. Talentdesk

talentdesk logo striven alternative

We’ve built TalentDesk specifically for businesses that rely heavily on freelancers and contractors as an all-in-one solution for everything freelancer management. Onboard, manage and pay your freelance workforce seamlessly from one place, minus the headaches.

Highlights:

  • Custom built workforce directory
  • Rapid task assignment interface
  • Download freelancer expenditure reports at a click

What Sets It Apart: Execute contracts with your freelancers through our AOR service, offering a safeguard for your business.

Pricing: Contact Talentdesk for pricing plans.

10. Salesflare

salesflare logo striven alternative

Use Salesflare contractor project management software and make more sales while spending less time managing data and emails.

Highlights:

  • Automated address book
  • Email, meeting and call sync
  • Email sequences

What Sets It Apart: Targeted for small and medium-sized businesses selling exclusively B2B.

Pricing:  From $29 user/mo.

Contact a Contractor Management Software Expert

Over the years, our software support team has been instrumental in helping business owners and their employees get up to speed quickly. The small business analyst team at Striven boasts decades of experience across various industries, including contracting and subcontracting.

It’s your business, and you’re the expert—our team is here to support you in every way possible.

Have a question?

The Top 10 Best Process Manufacturing Software Solutions: 2024 Edition

The Top 10 Best Process Manufacturing Software Solutions: 2024 Edition

Process manufacturing is a method of production that involves combining and processing raw materials or ingredients through a series of steps to create a finished product. Unlike discrete manufacturing, which produces distinct items (like cars, sports equipment, or electronics), process manufacturing produces goods in bulk that cannot be easily separated into individual units.

Process manufacturing ERP software is a specialized type of ERP system designed to support the unique requirements of businesses in process manufacturing industries. These industries include food and beverages, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics, where the production processes involve continuous or batch processing, complex recipes or formulas, and stringent regulatory compliance requirements.

Implementing manufacturing process management software in your manufacturing operation can provide numerous benefits that address common challenges and drive growth. Here are several reasons why your business can benefit from manufacturing process optimization software:

  1. Improved Efficiency and Productivity. Process optimization software automates various production processes, reducing manual effort and the risk of errors, and provides real-time visibility into production operations, allowing for quick adjustments and proactive problem-solving.
  2. Enhanced Product Quality. Quality control checks throughout the production process ensures product consistency and helps with industry standards and regulatory requirements—crucial for maintaining quality and avoiding legal issues
  3. Better Inventory Management. Process manufacturing software monitors inventory levels to prevent stockouts and overstock situations, reducing holding costs and improving cash flow. Automated reordering sets reorder points and automates the procurement process to ensure materials are available when needed.
  4. Cost Reduction. Process manufacturing ERP software lets you track production costs, including materials, labor, and overhead, helping identify areas for cost savings. It also optimizes resource usage and reduces waste through precise formula management and efficient production scheduling.
  5. Data-Driven Insights. Manufacturing process management software provides comprehensive reporting and analytics on various aspects of the business, enabling informed decision-making while tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
  6. Scalability and Growth Support. Adapts to the changing needs of your business, supporting growth and new product lines without significant changes to the system and adjusts production schedules and processes easily to accommodate increased demand or new market opportunities.
  7. Regulatory Compliance. Automates the generation of necessary documentation and reports to comply with industry regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance and can even track batch and lot numbers from raw materials to finished products, ensuring full traceability for quality control and regulatory purposes.
  8. Improved Collaboration and Communication. Data and documentation are centralized, making it easily accessible to all relevant departments. Manufacturing process management software can improve relationships with suppliers and customers, facilitating better communication and service.
  9. Risk Mitigation. Helps to identify potential risks in the production process and provides tools to mitigate them proactively, which ensures that production can continue smoothly even when issues arise, minimizing downtime and disruptions.

For an SMB manufacturing business, implementing process manufacturing ERP software can be a game-changer.

For a lot of growing businesses, it’s not always easy to find the right process manufacturing ERP software. With so many choices out there, it can be hard to know which process optimization software really fits the unique needs of your  industry, your business, and your budget.

Don’t worry, there’s good news—finding the right process manufacturing software for your business has never been easier.

We’re here to help. Our software experts have compiled a comprehensive breakdown of The Top 15 Best Process Manufacturing Software Solutions for 2024.

*Note: Our manufacturing process optimization software reviews are for informational purposes only. We encourage you to perform research and demo process manufacturing ERP software systems to achieve the most comprehensive comparison.

1. Striven

Striven Logo

Striven is an all-in-one ERP business management software solution built with small to mid-market businesses in mind, including those involved in process manufacturing. Our sophisticated software combines project management tools, CRM, sales performance metrics, lead management, collaboration tools, accounting, purchasing, HR and payroll, operations, inventory, task management tools, (and so much more) into a single, easy-to-use interface. Striven is an infinitely capable software solution that supports every type of employee within your company.

Highlights:

  • Project, task, and time management w/ interactive calendar
  • Detailed financial and productivity reports generated in seconds
  • Fully integrated CRM
  • Contractor and subcontractor management
  • Self-service portals for vendors, clients, and applicants
  • Scheduling & dispatch route planning
  • Fully integrated accounting
  • Process optimization & automation

What Sets It Apart: Striven’s expert team of business analysts personally see to your success. From training and onboarding, technical support, and business-specific customizations, our US-based Striven Support Team is available 24/7. On top of that, Striven’s automation capabilities allow you to work more efficiently.

Pricing: Free trial and custom demo, packages begin at $35/user.

More info:  Striven Earns Numerous Awards For Q4 2023

2. Epicor

epicor logo striven alternative

Epicor Advanced MES collects data directly from equipment and operators on the shop floor in real-time, maximizing data accuracy and process automation.

Highlights:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Reduce waste
  • Improve quality
  • Increase uptime

What Sets It Apart: You can automatically capture data from machines and sensors on the shop floor. Find out in real-time when a machine is not running efficiently so you can make quick adjustments and improvements.

Pricing: Must contact Epicor.

3. Syspro

syspro logo striven alternative

SYSPRO Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) helps provide process manufacturers the right mix of business software applications to help you address these unique challenges, whether you’re making products in batch or configure-to-order mode.

Highlights:

  • Manage complex production recipes
  • Simplify regulatory compliance and raw material traceability
  • Improve forecast accuracy

What Sets It Apart: SYSPRO’s Work in Progress inspection system gives you the tools to record the inspection details of manufactured products and, depending on the results, select to receipt, scrap or rework quantities.

Pricing: Contact Syspro for pricing.

4. Siemens

siemens logo striven alternative

SIEMENS Opcenter Execution Process is a manufacturing execution system (MES) designed to ensure the perfect quality required of process-manufactured products.

Highlights:

  • Manage materials, formula, recipe and batch management
  • Perform integrated quality sampling and testing
  • Process optimization software

What Sets It Apart: Siemens helps manufacturers meet both the special requirements of formulated product operations and the demands of secondary manufacturing operations, like packaging, labeling and palletizing finished goods.

Pricing: Contact Siemens for pricing plans.

 

5. Batchmaster

batchmaster logo striven alternative

Batchmaster ERP production scheduling software creates the optimal number of batch jobs required to meet current and forecasted demand, so that you can meet your customer service promises, in terms of perfect orders and delivery dates.

Highlights:

  • Consolidate supply and demand of facilities
  • Perform “what-if analysis” while planning production
  • Auto conversion of MPS orders to purchase orders and batch production jobs

What Sets It Apart: BatchMaster Software is a preconfigured “Out of the Box” application that supports the unique requirements of formula based, process manufacturers.

Pricing: Available upon request from Batchmaster.

6. SOS Inventory

sos inventory logo striven alternative

Process manufacturing management in SOS Inventory supports an unlimited number of inputs and outputs, offering complete flexibility to handle not only simple manufacturing but also cope with co-products and by-products.

Highlights:

  • Integrate with QuickBooks Online to eliminate duplicate data entry
  • Use sales orders to streamline your order management
  • Support multiple locations

What Sets It Apart: SOS Inventory’s most compelling feature is its tight integration with QuickBooks Online. Quickbooks Online is not an afterthought for us. Our software is built specifically for QuickBooks Online from the ground up.

Pricing: Starts at $59.95/month.

Read More: If you’re outgrowing Quickbooks, you need to read this

7. MRPeasy

mrpeasy logo striven alternative

With MRPeasy process manufacturing ERP, easily calculate material requirements, comply with traceability and quality standards, eliminate waste, and reduce holding costs.

Highlights:

  • Always know what you have in stock
  • Automatically calculate material requirements for incoming orders
  • Schedule production activities according to resource availability
  • Plan your purchases so that materials always arrive in time for production
  • Track your orders from quote to delivery

What Sets It Apart: Use the plethora of reports created by the software to drive positive change across the operation.

Pricing: Plans begin at $49/month.

8. Acctivate

acctivate logo striven alternative

Acctivate’s software for process manufacturing supports both recipe and formula process manufacturing allowing for components to be adjusted based on seasonal requirements, availability, or the requirement for substitutions.

Highlights:

  • Handle variations in input recipe to allow for substitute items and changes in quantities
  • Variable recipe and variable yield capabilities
  • Account for spillage and waste
  • Substitute ingredients in recipes
  • Handle multiple lots of the same ingredients

What Sets It Apart: Utilize your company’s live data in various ways via Acctivate, i.e., in standard/custom reports, customizable dashboard, and all the application windows to seamlessly handle operations.

Pricing: Contact Acctivate for pricing details.

Read More: 

9. Aptean

aptean logo striven alternative

With Aptean Process Manufacturing ERP, upgrade your operations with a full ecosystem of process manufacturing software from one trusted provider. Improve formula management, lot tracking, regulatory compliance and more with a full set of specialized tools.

Highlights:

  • Streamline new product development
  • Manage product risk
  • Enforce regulatory compliance

What Sets It Apart: Industry segments served: Cannabis, Chemical, Cosmetics & Personal Care, Nutraceutical.

Pricing: Contact Aptean for pricing plans.

10. Absolute ERP

absolute erp logo striven alternative

Absolute manufacturing process optimization software offers the best Production Management that allows you to balance daily schedules timely in a systematic manner. It also helps to promote centralized database support and assists to optimize each resource related to management.

Highlights:

  • Cloud-based solution
  • Unlimited users
  • Device responsive. Get the Absolute ERP access on any device

What Sets It Apart: Production accounting software helps to access business data from their mobile phone, tablet, computer, or laptop anywhere at any time. Production system software allows employees to access documents easily for editing and approval on the go.

Pricing: Contact for pricing.

Contact an Process Manufacturing Software Expert

Over the years, our software support team has been instrumental in helping business owners and their employees get up to speed quickly. The small business analyst team at Striven boasts decades of experience across various industries, including process manufacturing software.

It’s your business, and you’re the expert—our team is here to support you in every way possible.

Have a question?

Augmented Reality (AR) and ERP Integration: Shaping the Future of Business

The fusion of Augmented Reality (AR) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, empowered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), marks the dawn of a new era in business operations. 

First, let’s start by defining augmented reality: 

Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that overlays digital information and images on the real world through devices such as smartphones, tablets, or specialized AR glasses. This technology enhances a user’s perception of reality by superimposing computer-generated sensory input like sound, video, graphics, or GPS data onto their view of the natural environment. AR is used in various applications, including gaming, healthcare, education, and retail, to create interactive experiences that integrate virtual components with the real world in real-time.

Futuristic, right? Augmented reality may not be a part of our daily lives just yet, but someday (probably in the not too distant future) it will be.

Experts predict that AR will soon be deeply embedded in various consumer interactions, from trying on clothes virtually to visualizing furniture in homes before purchasing. This integration aims to enhance customer engagement and personalize the shopping experience by allowing consumers to interact with products in innovative ways before making purchasing decisions.​ 

This groundbreaking integration is set to redefine how businesses manage their resources, engage with customers, and execute operational tasks. As we venture into the future, the synergy between AR and AI within ERP systems promises to bring about innovative solutions that are not just evolutionary but revolutionary.

The New Frontier: AR in ERP Systems

ERP systems have long been the backbone of business operations, offering a centralized platform to manage various processes, from finance and HR to supply chain and customer relations. The integration of AR and AI into ERP systems introduces a layer of interactivity and intelligence that elevates these systems from mere information repositories to dynamic, interactive tools that can guide decision-making and operational efficiency in real-time.

Transformative Potential for Businesses

1. Enhanced Data Visualization and Decision Making:

AR brings data to life through immersive visualizations that allow decision-makers to interact with complex datasets in a more intuitive and meaningful way. When combined with AI’s predictive analytics, businesses can not only visualize current data but also future projections and scenarios directly overlaid onto the physical world. This could mean projecting future inventory levels directly onto warehouse shelves and helping managers make more informed stocking decisions.

2. Revolutionary Training and Onboarding:

Training and onboarding processes can be significantly enhanced with AR and ERP integration. New employees can wear AR glasses to receive real-time, AI-generated insights pulled from the ERP system as they navigate their tasks. A hands-on approach accelerates the learning process, reduces errors, and improves overall job performance from day one.

3. Real-Time Operational Adjustments:

In manufacturing and logistics, AR devices can display real-time information from the ERP system to workers on the shop floor or in the warehouse. As market demands shift, AI algorithms can analyze data and suggest operational adjustments. Workers can see these updates in their field of vision, allowing for immediate adaptation, such as changing assembly line configurations or redirecting logistics routes based on predictive demand and supply chain statuses.

4. Personalized Customer Experiences:

In retail, AR and ERP integration can transform the customer experience by personalizing interactions based on data-driven insights. Customers wearing AR devices could see product information, stock levels, and even personalized recommendations as they shop, all powered by real-time data from the ERP system. Personalization not only enhances the shopping experience but also drives sales and customer loyalty.

5. Fashion and Retail: There are developing technologies that allow shoppers to virtually try on clothing and makeup. It may be outside the scope of this document.

Navigating Challenges and Embracing the Future

The integration of AR and AI into ERP systems is not without its challenges. Revolutionary technologies rarely are. Privacy and security concerns, the need for significant investment in technology infrastructure, and ensuring user adoption require careful consideration and strategic planning. The potential benefits, however, far outweigh these hurdles, offering businesses unprecedented opportunities to innovate and excel.

For business owners, the message is clear: the future is about integration and innovation. Investing in AR and AI technologies and integrating them with your ERP systems can propel your business into the future, setting a new standard for operational efficiency, customer engagement, and competitive advantage. The journey requires vision, commitment, and a willingness to embrace change, but the rewards promise to be transformative.

As we look to the future, the integration of Augmented Reality and AI with ERP systems represents a significant leap forward in the way businesses operate. This convergence of technologies offers a glimpse into a future where business operations are more efficient, employees are more empowered, and customers are more engaged. The time to explore and invest in these innovative solutions is now, as they pave the way for a new era of business excellence.

AI in ERP: Enhancing Competitor & Market Trend Analysis

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a formidable ally in competitor analysis, offering tools and techniques that can decode complex market trends and competitor strategies with precision and foresight. 

Here’s how AI is revolutionizing competitor analysis and how businesses can leverage these innovations to stay ahead of the curve.

1. Real-Time Market Trend Analysis

AI-driven tools can sift through vast amounts of data from various sources, including social media, news outlets, financial reports, and more, to identify real-time market trends.

A retail business might use AI to monitor social media trends and online reviews to understand consumer preferences and how competitors are responding to these trends. 

By using natural language processing (NLP), businesses can gauge sentiment analysis, helping them to understand public perception towards their brand in comparison to their competitors.

Let’s consider a real-life scenario that illustrates how AI can be used for real-time market trend analysis, focusing on the retail industry.

Company Background

Imagine a mid-sized apparel company, “FashionForward,” specializing in sustainable clothing. FashionForward operates in a highly competitive market where trends shift rapidly and consumer preferences are increasingly influenced by social media influencers, environmental concerns, and ethical manufacturing processes.

Challenge

FashionForward noticed a decline in sales of a particular clothing line but couldn’t pinpoint the cause. Was it due to a change in consumer preferences, an emerging trend they were missing, or a successful campaign from a competitor?

AI Implementation for Real-Time Market Trend Analysis

To address this challenge, FashionForward implements an AI-powered market analysis tool designed to monitor and analyze social media platforms, online forums, and product reviews in real-time. This tool utilizes natural language processing (NLP) to understand sentiment and identify trending topics related to the fashion industry, specifically sustainable clothing.

How the AI Tool Worked

  • Data Aggregation: The AI tool begins by aggregating vast amounts of unstructured data from various online sources (Twitter, Instagram, fashion forums,  product review sections on e-commerce platforms, etc.).
  • Sentiment Analysis: Using NLP, the tool analyzes the sentiment of posts, comments, and reviews, distinguishing between positive, negative, and neutral sentiments related to sustainable clothing and identifying key themes.
  • Trend Identification: The AI system employs machine learning algorithms to detect emerging trends within the sustainable fashion niche. It was able to recognize patterns indicating a growing demand for upcycled clothing, a subset of sustainable fashion where old garments are repurposed into new items.
  • Competitor Monitoring: Concurrently, the tool monitors competitors’ online activities, identifying any mentions of upcycling or related campaigns that were resonating well with the audience.

I agree that we need to break up all this information with a good bit of white space and varying formats. I don’t know what the final format will be (I assume PDF), but it can’t just be paragraph after paragraph of technical writing. Will Sharon be taking this text and making it more reader friendly?

Outcome and Strategic Response

The AI tool discovered a significant positive sentiment and growing trend around upcycled clothing, a market segment FashionForward had previously overlooked. At the same time, it identified a successful campaign by a competitor that highlighted their new upcycled clothing line, which was gaining traction on social media.

Armed with these insights, FashionForward quickly pivoted to design and promote its own line of upcycled clothing. The company leveraged social media influencers passionate about sustainability to highlight the environmental benefits of upcycling, aligning with consumer values identified through the AI analysis.

Results

The new line was a hit, leading to an increase in online engagement, higher traffic to their website, and a significant boost in sales. FashionForward’s swift response, guided by real-time AI insights, not only helped them regain their competitive edge but also established them as a key player in the upcycled fashion market.

This example underscores the transformative power of AI in enabling businesses to stay ahead of market trends and align their strategies with real-time consumer preferences and competitive dynamics.

2. Competitor Strategy Decoding

Through AI algorithms, businesses can conduct in-depth competitor analyses. AI tools can track competitors’ website changes, social media activity, and email marketing campaigns, providing insights into their marketing strategies and product launches. 

Expanding upon the concept of using AI for Competitor Strategy Decoding, let’s delve into how businesses can implement AI tools to gain actionable insights into their competitors’ strategies, ultimately allowing them to make informed decisions that can enhance their competitive edge.

Implementation of AI for Competitor Strategy Decoding

1. Establishing AI Monitoring Tools:

Businesses begin by deploying AI-based monitoring tools designed to analyze competitors’ digital footprints comprehensively. These tools are configured to track website updates, social media posts, email newsletters, and even online customer reviews related to the competitors.

2. Real-Time Alerts and Dashboards:

The AI system is set up to provide real-time alerts for specific triggers, such as price changes, new product announcements, or spikes in social media activity. Dashboards are customized to display this information in an easily digestible format, allowing decision-makers to grasp competitive dynamics at a glance.

Actionable Strategies from AI Insights

1. Dynamic Pricing Strategies:

When the AI tool alerts a business that a competitor has reduced prices on key products, the business can quickly analyze its cost structure and market positioning to determine if it can afford to match or beat the competitor’s prices. Alternatively, it can focus on highlighting its unique value proposition, such as superior quality or customer service, to justify a higher price point.

2. Rapid Response to Product Launches:

Upon detecting a competitor’s product launch, the AI system can help businesses analyze the features and marketing tactics used. Such insight allows them to craft counter-marketing campaigns that emphasize their own product’s unique features or launch complementary products that fill gaps in the competitor’s offering.

3. Social Media Strategy Optimization:

By monitoring competitors’ social media activity, businesses can identify which types of content generate the most engagement. This information can guide them in refining their own social media strategy, adopting successful content formats, hashtags, or engagement techniques.

4. Customer Sentiment Analysis:

AI tools can analyze customer reactions to competitors’ marketing campaigns, product launches, or service updates. Understanding customer sentiment can help businesses identify areas where competitors are underperforming and exploit these gaps by tailoring their products, services, or marketing messages to address these pain points.

5. Strategic Email Campaign Analysis:

By monitoring the frequency, content, and engagement of competitors’ email campaigns, businesses can optimize their own email marketing strategy. This might involve adjusting the timing of emails, personalizing content, or offering exclusive promotions to counteract competitors’ campaigns.

Implementation Example: TechGadget Inc.

Consider TechGadget Inc., a company in the consumer electronics sector. Using an AI-powered competitor analysis tool, TechGadget Inc. tracks a key competitor’s launch of a new smartwatch. The AI tool analyzes the product’s features, pricing, and promotional strategies, as well as consumer responses across various platforms.

With this data, TechGadget Inc. identifies a lack of certain features in the competitor’s smartwatch that are highly requested by consumers, such as longer battery life and a more intuitive user interface. TechGadget Inc. quickly develops a marketing campaign for their own smartwatch, highlighting these features and offering a limited-time discount for those switching from a competitor’s brand. They also launch targeted social media ads focusing on the superiority of their product in areas where the competitor’s product is lacking.

3. Automating Competitive Intelligence Gathering

Tracking and analyzing competitors’ strategies and market trends manually is time-consuming and prone to error. AI can automate these processes, continuously monitoring and analyzing data from competitors and the market. This automation allows businesses to receive timely insights and alerts on critical developments, ensuring they’re always informed and ready to act. In addition, AI tools can automatically track patent filings, product launches, and regulatory changes affecting competitors, providing businesses with a comprehensive view of their competitive landscape.

Below, we examine how AI can automate competitive intelligence gathering, along with actionable strategies businesses can employ based on these insights.

Implementing AI for Automated Competitive Intelligence

1. Setting Up AI-Powered Monitoring Systems:

Businesses first need to integrate AI-powered ERP systems that are capable of scanning a wide array of data sources for competitive intelligence. These sources include patent databases, regulatory filings, competitor websites, social media channels, and industry news outlets. The AI system should be tailored to recognize and prioritize information that is most relevant to the business’s strategic interests.

2. Customizing Alerts for Strategic Triggers:

ERP systems can be configured to send alerts for specific events such as new patent filings by competitors, announcements of product launches, changes in pricing strategies, or updates in regulatory standards that could impact market dynamics. (Most ERP software solutions have dedicated support, training, and onboarding included in their services.) These alerts enable businesses to stay on top of developments that could affect their competitive position.

Actionable Strategies from Automated Competitive Intelligence

1. Innovation and Product Development:

By tracking competitors’ patent filings and product announcements, businesses can identify trends in innovation and technological advancements in their sector. This information can guide R&D efforts, inspiring new product developments or improvements to existing products that address unmet market needs or capitalize on emerging technologies.

2. Regulatory Compliance and Market Entry:

AI monitoring of regulatory changes can provide early warnings about shifts in legal requirements that could affect product design, marketing, or distribution, thus allowing businesses to adapt quickly.

3. Strategic Patenting and Intellectual Property (IP) Management:

Automated tracking of patent filings not only reveals where competitors are focusing their innovation efforts but also helps businesses identify potential IP conflicts or opportunities for strategic patenting. This can lead to the development of a robust IP portfolio that protects innovative products and technologies, perhaps creating barriers to entry for competitors.

4. Competitive Pricing Strategies:

AI tools that monitor competitors’ pricing changes in real-time can inform dynamic pricing strategies. Businesses can adjust their pricing models based on competitive pricing data, optimizing for profitability while remaining competitive in the market. This could include launching price-matching initiatives or targeted promotions to capture market share.

5. Tailoring Marketing and Sales Strategies:

Gleaned from automated AI analysis, insights into competitors’ marketing campaigns and sales tactics  can lead to more effective marketing and sales strategies. Identifying the channels and messaging that resonate deeply with the target audience allows businesses to refine their own marketing messages, optimize channel selection, and improve customer engagement.

Conclusion

Automating competitive intelligence gathering with AI transforms a traditionally reactive process into a proactive strategy. Continuous monitoring of the competitive landscape allows businesses to anticipate changes, adapt strategies quickly, and maintain a competitive advantage. This approach not only saves time and resources but also ensures that strategic decisions are driven by comprehensive, up-to-date intelligence on competitors and market trends.

AI in ERP: Automating Business Communications

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing how companies communicate with their customers. By automating repetitive tasks and personalizing interactions, AI enhances both marketing and customer service functions, making them more efficient and effective. This post explores the transformative power of AI in business communication.

Marketing Communications

Personalized Content Creation

AI’s ability to analyze customer data has made personalized content creation not just possible but powerful. By generating unique content for email marketing campaigns, social media posts, and advertisements based on customer interactions, purchase history, and preferences, businesses are seeing higher engagement rates. Studies show that personalized emails can boost click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. 

For example, consider a customer named Jane who bought a tent two weeks ago. An AI system identifies her as a potential buyer for sleeping bags and sends her an email showcasing top-rated sleeping bags with a 10% discount. This timely, relevant offer leads Jane to make a purchase, demonstrating AI’s capability to target effectively.

Predictive Analytics for Targeting

AI excels at analyzing customer behavior and trends to predict future buying patterns. This enables businesses to target their marketing efforts more accurately, focusing on prospects most likely to convert. Efficient resource allocation in marketing can significantly increase return on investment. Amazon’s use of predictive analytics to suggest products to customers is a prime example of this strategy in action.

Automated Social Media Management

AI tools automate the scheduling and posting of social media content and analyze engagement to suggest optimal posting times and content types. This automation helps businesses maintain an active and effective social media presence with minimal manual effort. For instance, an AI-powered scheduling tool can analyze past post performance to suggest the best times to post for maximum engagement.

Chatbots for Lead Generation

AI-powered chatbots on websites and social media platforms can interact with visitors around the clock. They answer questions, provide information, and qualify leads, ensuring potential customers are engaged immediately, which increases the likelihood of sales conversions.

You can check out Striven’s AI Chatbot right here.

Example of AI-Powered Chatbot Interaction:

  1. Chatbot Integration: A business integrates an AI-powered chatbot into its website to greet visitors, offer assistance, answer FAQs, and guide users through the product catalog.
  2. Visitor Interaction: A visitor named Emma is greeted by the chatbot, which offers her options like “Browse Products,” “Custom Design Consultation,” or “Help with an Existing Order.”
  3. Lead Qualification: Emma chooses “Custom Design Consultation,” indicating interest in a custom piece of furniture. The chatbot qualifies the lead by asking about her preferences and budget.
  4. Capturing Lead Information: The chatbot captures Emma’s contact information and stores it in the CRM system after determining she is a qualified lead.
  5. Follow-Up and Conversion: A specialist contacts Emma to schedule a consultation, leading to a sale after designing her custom furniture piece. Sephora’s chatbot on Facebook Messenger is a great illustration of how a beauty brand can leverage chatbots to offer personalized shopping experiences.

Voice Search Optimization

With the rise of voice assistants, optimizing for voice search is increasingly important. AI helps businesses understand natural language queries and optimizes online content for voice search, enhancing visibility in voice search results. 

AI-driven Content Curation

AI curates and recommends content based on audience preferences and behaviors, keeping the content engaging and reducing the workload on marketing teams. Netflix’s recommendation system is a prime example of AI-driven content curation, using viewer preferences to suggest relevant TV shows and movies.

Customer Service Communications

AI Chatbots for 24/7 Support

AI-powered chatbots provide instant responses to customer inquiries at any hour, improving customer satisfaction by reducing wait times. These chatbots handle everything from simple FAQs to more complex issues and escalate the conversation to a human agent if needed. 

Sentiment Analysis for Customer Feedback

AI analyzes customer reviews, surveys, and social media posts to gauge sentiment. This insight helps businesses identify improvement areas and understand customer satisfaction levels.

Example of Sentiment Analysis in Action:

  1. Collecting Customer Feedback: A local restaurant encourages customers to leave reviews and complete surveys about their online ordering experience.
  2. Implementing Sentiment Analysis: The restaurant uses an AI tool to perform sentiment analysis on the feedback, determining overall sentiment and identifying specific discussion points like food quality or service speed.
  3. Analyzing the Feedback: The AI tool provides insights into customer satisfaction and areas needing improvement, such as delivery times.
  4. Taking Action: Based on the analysis, the restaurant partners with a more efficient delivery service to reduce wait times and improve its kitchen workflow.
  5. Monitoring Changes and Continuous Improvement: The restaurant continues to monitor feedback, and the sentiment analysis shows a positive shift, indicating successful improvements. Yelp’s use of AI in filtering reviews and identifying consumer sentiment is a useful reference here.

Automated Email Support

AI automates responses to common customer inquiries via email, ensuring timely responses. The system categorizes and prioritizes emails, directing more complex issues to the appropriate human agent. A notable example is Striven’s Workflows feature, which enables automated responses and scheduling tools, freeing up human agents for more complex tasks.

Personalized Customer Service

AI analyzes a customer’s history to provide personalized service recommendations and troubleshoot issues more effectively. For instance, if a customer frequently buys a specific product, the AI system can offer tailored advice or promotions related to that product.

Example of Personalized Customer Service Using AI:

  1. Setting Up the AI System: A boutique store specializing in sustainable fashion implements an AI-powered email management system to handle customer inquiries.
  2. Customer Inquiry: Sofia asks about returning a dress that doesn’t fit. The AI system identifies this as a return request and provides an automated, detailed response.
  3. Automated Response and Action: Sofia receives instructions on returning the product, information on the refund process, and a link to a prepaid shipping label.
  4. Escalation for Complex Issues: Another customer, Lucas, asks a complex question about material sourcing. The AI system escalates this to a human specialist in product sustainability.
  5. Continuous Learning: The AI system learns from each interaction, improving its ability to respond accurately and identify trends in customer inquiries. The personalized support provided by AI is evident in how Spotify uses AI to tailor music recommendations to individual tastes, enhancing user satisfaction..

Predictive Customer Service

AI predicts potential customer issues based on behavior and preemptively offers solutions. For example, if a subscription is about to expire, the AI system sends a reminder and offers renewal assistance. HP uses predictive analytics to detect potential issues in their printers and proactively provide support to customers, demonstrating how predictive customer service can work effectively.

By leveraging AI, businesses can transform their marketing and customer service functions, making them more personalized, efficient, and effective. This innovation allows businesses to stay ahead of the competition and foster stronger relationships with their customers.