After 20 years as a Sage Development Partner, we severed our partnership as Sage was forcing our company to adopt a new ERP System with the removal (End of Life) from the market of their product that we sold and supported. Being forced to learn a new system meant to us that it was an ideal time to shop around. In 2013 we chose to become a HansaWorld Partner as we found them to have the most “Modern” software we had reviewed. So, what is Modern Software?
This is a really difficult question to answer for two reasons. Firstly, the concept of “modern” is a moving target, with every new idea and innovation the exact definition of “modern” will change. Secondly, modern is a term that means different things to different people – here we will argue that when the term “Modern” is used in conjunction with the word “Software”, we are referring to software that offers support for modern concepts within the software industry. The following material describes a few of these concepts, which, although not an exhaustive list, will give you a good feel for the extent to which modern ideas are influencing and moving the Information Technology arena today. Note, we deliberately avoided addressing “Cloud Computing” as this is a vast service offering that includes most of what is defined below.
MODERN CONCEPT: MOBILITY being able to be anywhere there is connectivity and still work. There are those who argue that Remote Access and Mobility is one and the same and you already have this, for a good “techie chuckle” read this article, The “Cloud” – Is it for you? Probably not! by Wildwood Software.
Although both concepts – Remote Access and Mobility – can use the Internet for connectivity, Remote access depends on “Computer Network” (LAN, WAN) technology for a medium that would be fast enough to support it. Get ready to park outside of Tim’s or Starbucks and steal/use Wi-Fi if you are too rushed for your next meeting. Conversely, Mobile software uses the connectivity in your device to access your data, so a smartphone will connect using LTE etc and will work reasonably well over this medium.
Typically, Remote Access depends on you having a dedicated resource back in the office to support the connection to the “Data Server”, where you remote to a client PC (many times Terminal Server) and then the client PC gives you the ability to go to the data. Mobility should take you directly to your data. Note, the data can be on any type of server. Mobility does not define the operating system to be used by your file server. Remember this point when you get to the third modern concept, Multi-platform/Mix-platform clients, later in this article.
“Some ERP systems work directly on tablets and smartphones, with apps available that present data in the appropriate format for handsets. The emergence of mobile devices coupled with powerful services at reasonable prices is unprecedented. The development of apps means it is today possible for even a tiny business to get practically complete ERP functionality, including accounts, bookkeeping, CRM, contracts, expenses, invoices, POS, projects, rentals and more, and run their operation from a smartphone or tablet.” Alan Sher, Director HansaWorld South Africa.
Let us put this into perspective by looking at three software choices:
• Microsoft family of products Dynamics (NAV, GP, AX, etc) – uses Browser Technology to deliver mobility and possibly some “apps” to deliver specific features using “add-on” integrations.
• Sage family of products (Sage 100, 300, 500, X3) – uses Browser Technology to deliver mobility and possibly some “apps” to deliver specific features using “add-on” integrations.
• HansaWorld – uses client software written to work on the device and in the operating system of the device in use.
MODERN CONCEPT: BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE (BYOD) allows your employees to use their own devices and when they leave the company there will be no company data on their devices. Remote access does guarantee this as they are only looking at screen shots of a PC in the office but security keys and many pieces of software owned by the company has to be installed and should be removed upon an employee’s departure from the company. The big payback with BYOD is that employees pay for the devices that they are using and you simply let them have access to the work they need to do on their devices.
• Wildwood suggests that Mobility and Remote Access are one and the same thing.
• Sage and Microsoft are trying but betting their solution on Browser based technology.
This does achieve the goal of BYOD but the software is limited by the deficiencies of a Web browser. Then there is the concept of data and where and who is responsible for it while it sits on a cloud. There are many issues to consider but there are the advantages like smoother upgrades etc with “Hosted” cloud based solutions, but again this is an entirely different beast and needs an article of its own to address…enough said.
HansaWorld is already there, with clients for Android, iOS, MAC OS, Windows, Linux and more. Further adding to the technology race by offering both hosted and private cloud based solutions. This software is user installable and user removable but holds no company specific details.
MODERN CONCEPT: MULTI-PLATFORM, MIXED CLIENT SOFTWARE when software is available for any device regardless of the file server operating system back in your office, that software is said to support multi-platform clients. When you can use these clients all at the same time, this is known as Multi-platform independence. Building a Browser Based Software solution is a cheaper but achievable alternative for the short term – it would be safe assume that this is the main reason we are seeing such is large adoption by today’s bigger software vendors like Microsoft and Sage of “Cloud based” solutions.
HansaWorld designed their software foundation from ground up to be cross platform/mixed platform independent. When Microsoft released Windows 8, HansaWorld soon had a client for this operating system and they were the first company in the world to have an ERP system Windows 8 ready. Sage Software still does not have one to this day.
Windows 10 has replaced Windows 8 – if you owned a software house and the foundation of your software is not written to be deployed on a newer operating system, Browsers, which are guaranteed to work in any new release, is the safe place for you to be.
MODERN CONCEPT: SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE (SaaS) with costs moving higher and higher in the market, licensing software has become an expenditure forcing companies to scale back on what they purchase simply because the right tool is just too expensive. Software as a Service also referred to as “Subscription” is quickly becoming a popular offering to end users. Subscription brings many benefits to any business. Budgeted, monthly fees can put fully-functional ERP systems within the reach of far more businesses than ever before, thanks to the fact that there is no longer any need for substantial capital expenditure – “Cloud computing” offers many benefits including reduced hardware costs, smoother upgrade management, etc.
For a reasonable and predictable monthly fee, small and medium-sized companies now have access to systems and processes that once belonged only to large businesses. After all, the savings in capex can be substantial – thousands of dollars. Software as a Service means that Small and Medium business owners who have always had the same demand for functionality as large business can now afford the right tools. Having full access to the concepts and controls used in bigger companies, positions and equips smaller businesses to deliver the same level of service as that of a larger business; however, as a small business you still retain your competitive advantage of being able to implement new decisions faster than larger competitors!
Sage and Microsoft can both deliver “on–premise” or “public” cloud. HansaWorld will deliver both these options but you can also choose “Private Cloud”. So, think “Modern” when it comes to the software solution that will run your business and don’t ask Why? Ask Why not!