adaptive applications, adaptive erp, QAD Explore

Next week will kick off QAD Explore 2019 in New Orleans, and we couldn’t be more excited! QAD hosted Explore in New Orleans in 2014, five years ago. It was soon after our previous “Big Easy” Explore that we launched an internal project called “Channel Islands.”

The Beginning and End of Channel Islands

What compelled QAD to undertake Channel Islands? It was obvious to us that enterprise-class applications, like enterprise resource planning (ERP), needed to evolve considerably to remain relevant. We therefore wanted to transform our ERP and supply chain solutions to help manufacturers deal with a rapidly changing industry and take advantage of emerging technologies.

Examples of the hot technologies at the time included cloud, big data analytics, HTML5, pervasive mobile computing, RESTful APIs, microservices, non-relational database technologies, social media and others. Related trends and buzzwords, such as postmodern ERP, Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, intelligent ERP and evolving compliance requirements reflected the transformation in manufacturing and ERP.

Starting in 2015, we rolled out one of the four phases planned for the Channel Islands project each year. In September 2018, the Channel Islands project was completed.

The Future Requires Adaptivity

The result is QAD today offers a quite different ERP solution, from the inside out and from the outside in, than what we offered at Explore New Orleans in 2014. While the number of innovations and enhancements, as incorporated into our flagship QAD Cloud ERP solution by QAD R&D over the past four years, is far too numerous to list in a blog post, there were two major elements that came out of the project.

  1. We modernized the user experience. This did not just involve shifting to HTML5 and native mobile OSes, but, more importantly, it meant adding flexibility to the user experience – to future-proof the user experience (UX). Our thinking was that since change seemed so rampant in manufacturing, changes in role definitions, user preferences and collaborative flows were inescapable. We named this the Channel Islands UX.
  2. To incorporate all relevant and current advanced technologies, to add as yet unforeseen technologies as they emerge, and to make our solution architected for the cloud era, we built a new platform. Again, the idea was to develop a platform that could easily morph over time as technology and market conditions changed, and, more importantly, could support the unique requirements of each manufacturer – to support a rapid response to change. We named this the QAD Enterprise Platform.

There is a common theme that crosses all of these subjects: Change! Change In technologies, in manufacturing and related industries (e.g. retail, distribution and logistics), in global business practices, in geopolitics. There is no end in sight.

What does a manufacturing need to do to deal with all of this change on an on-going basis? Adapt! Do so rapidly, effectively and with agility.

What can QAD do, therefore, to help manufacturers? Provide adaptive ERP and related applications.

This is quite a different ERP value proposition for manufacturers than in the past where ERP was the monolith and the business often had to customize around ERP. QAD’s view, and commitment, is that ERP should make it easier and faster for manufacturers to adapt. Why is this so important? The ongoing disruptions happening in manufacturing in terms of complexity, scope and impact are seismic.

Business Model Disruption

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Digital Twin, Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Blockchain, Machine Learning, Robots, etc. We are all familiar with these new and emerging technologies, but that is only the technology. Business model disruption is happening in manufacturing as never before. The three primary business model disruptions we see we refer to as Anything-as-a-Service, Make to Order at Scale and the Digital Transformation of Manufacturing.

In addition, the requirements associated with compliance have expanded and are increasingly going regional and even global. Trade and tariffs have become more convoluted. Supply chains are in a constant state of flux. Environmental factors have never been more important and, if anything, will become more important. This is a lot for a manufacturer to deal with. It is clear that in manufacturing the only constant is change.

The Fourth Generation of ERP: Adaptive

ERP must therefore become adaptive so that it is optimized to support a manufacturer’s changing needs. QAD now has two goals for ERP:

  1. Provide an ERP that, because of our focus on only six vertical industries within manufacturing, offers excellent fit out of the box.
  2. Provide an ERP that easily adapts to meet requirements as they evolve to address new business challenges and opportunities – offering excellent fit over the long run.

That is why, going forward, QAD’s flagship offering will be called QAD Adaptive ERP. QAD’s portfolio of solutions, including QAD Adaptive ERP and a comprehensive list of closely related solutions, will be called QAD Adaptive Applications.

QAD welcomes manufacturers to the fourth generation of ERP – the adaptive generation – and again to New Orleans. We are looking forward to a shared learning experience and laissez les bon temps rouler!