Mobile ERP misses the mark: Gartner

Accessing ERP systems through tablets is complicated, but Windows 8 may be able to change that, according to Gartner.

Companies, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system vendors and tablet manufacturers have failed to understand how to effectively bring ERP onto mobile devices , according to Gartner enterprise software research director, Nigel Montgomery.

Spurred by the popularity of tablets such as the Apple iPad, mobility has become a noted trend in the business space. But that has brought a swathe of new headaches for businesses, one of which is the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy.

ERP, which involves collating the information of a company from a number of sources to assist decision making and transparency, is an area saturated with overly complex systems piled on top of each other, according to Montgomery.

Because companies and ERP vendors want to simplify access to these systems on mobile devices such as tablets, the end result does not resemble ERP access on desktops. This can cause confusion for users.

"A company I spoke with last week bought 14,000 iPads for its management team, and 40 per cent of them had sent the devices back because they don't have a clue what to do with them," Montgomery told ZDNet Australia."The company never considered what the value was and what was going to be delivered [through the iPads].

"Understanding the impact of consumerisation on mobility should be considered by CIOs."

He also blames tablet vendors for failing to create devices that can adequately support a seamless experience from desktop to mobile device, which is what's lacking in the ERP space now.

"People are not looking at the iPad as a replacement for their ERP user interface — they want it as an additional user interface, and still have the core system on their desktop," Montgomery said.

With Microsoft coming out with the Surface tablets running Windows 8 , it will give users the same experience from desktop to tablet, Montgomery said. He sees Windows 8 as a disruptive force in the ERP space, and will not only propel Microsoft into a top position in that area, but also fast track tablet adoption for businesses.

"I think it will also force the likes of Asus and a lot of the tablet vendors to step up in being able to deliver something that is business capable in the first place, because that's not what they've been doing," Montgomery said. "The convergence of Windows 8 capabilities, its ability to sit on the tablet and other vendors' ability to deliver the goods for the platform, I think, will change the game."

ERP vendors will need to raise their game as well. According to Montgomery, big ERP players have become too big through acquisition, taking in more capabilities than they can manage, and creating complexities in ERP systems.

Vendors need to stop piling new features on, and instead look at how they can simplify systems so they can jump from desktops to tablets more easily.