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From Mainframe to the Cloud: The History of ERP Software

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Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is one of the oldest software categories out there. In fact, if you trace its lineage back to the original MRP specs outlined by APICS, ERP software dates back more than fifty years. As a result, ERP software has had the unique opportunity (or challenge) of transitioning across virtually all of the major architectural eras in modern computing.

From the 1960’s to today – through all of the key events, software vendors and technologies – we learn that even the smallest change in technology can create massive shifts in the software landscape, especially for ERP software. For example, the advent of minicomputers, microcomputers, tablets, and now the cloud, resulted in significant advantages for ERP customers across all industries, including manufacturing:

  • Lower costs of hardware, technology and infrastructure
  • Increased flexibility to align the software to unique business requirements

These changes ultimately transformed how manufacturers do business. Think about it. During the early mainframe days, launching an ERP solution required a massive investment in hardware followed by a completely custom software development effort. This made ERP solutions costly and time consuming for customers to deploy.

In today’s environment, there’s virtually no hardware cost and no custom coding to deploy. Because of the cloud, enterprise software can be delivered faster, more efficiently and less costly than in years past, resulting in real improvements in manufacturing operations. In fact, in a recent study, manufacturers reported that since deploying a cloud ERP solution they:

  • Saw improvements in plant operations
  • Achieved operating process improvements
  • Achieved better quality in their own products

As the needs of ERP users and demands from customers continue to evolve, one thing is certain with ERP software: change is the only constant. And it will continue to drive down costs and increase flexibility for ERP users into the unforeseeable future.

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