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ERP Investment Trends: What B2B Pros Prioritize and When They’ll Buy


When we hear the word enterprise in the context of business, it’s common to associate it with large-scale, multi-billion dollar corporations with hundreds or even thousands of employees. Perhaps, then, you’d be surprised to know that any for-profit business or company is defined as an enterprise but isn’t usually used to describe small businesses. 

Enterprise-level organizations typically have many moving parts, consisting of a number of disparate systems, strategies, and goals. That’s quite a bit to manage. To keep each of these pieces straight, businesses turn to ERP systems. 

What Is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?

ERP is an acronym for enterprise resource planning—a software suite that encapsulates all facets of an organization to manage and integrate crucial business data. 

Many ERP software applications assist businesses implement resource planning by integrating all of the processes needed to run their companies (i.e. planning, purchasing inventory, sales, marketing, finance, human resources, etc.) through a single system. ERP software can be a very useful tool used across an organization to increase transparency, promote collaboration, and improve data-driven decisions. 

Despite the various capabilities ERP software covers, vendors don’t always have vision into which challenges or features drive purchase.

Fortunately, this is something that NetLine has insight into. 

The Challenge

  • How can Marketers at ERP software vendors better understand the needs of their target buyers beyond the personas they’ve built and learnings they’ve gleaned from their existing customer base?
  • What kind of obstacles are operations professionals facing that ERP software users resources-specific software vendors can solve or simplify?
  • How can Demand Generation Marketers for these vendors operationally leverage insights into those obstacles to drive more personalized and contextual dialogue with prospects?

The Goal

  • Identify and understand how leading ERP decision-makers use or intend to use ERP software and whether they intend to increase their investment any further within the next 12 months and beyond.
  • Such observations should exclusively be captured via first-party interactions with ERP decision-making buyers as they voluntarily registered and consumed related content.

The Questions

To answer the questions, we engaged nearly 11,000 senior-level IT decision makers to assess their:

  • Top priorities with ERP software
  • Greatest challenges managing and using existing ERP software
  • Desire and Timeline to invest in ERP software

Here’s a sampling of some of the insights we uncovered from their responses.

Question

Name PCT.
Moving to A Cloud ERP Solution 25.52%
Management Reporting is Cumbersome-Reporting Streamlining is Needed 21.26%
New Compliance Requirements 18.58%
A Solution to Disparate Data 13.17%
Desire to Move to a Shared-Services Model 12.34%
Replacing Existing ERP Infrastructure 9.13%

While there are three top priorities when it comes to ERP investment, the answers are quite evenly split, with no categories dipping below 9.13% or exceeding 25.52%. The themes at the top appear to be that centralization and clarity are the driving factors for businesses, with Moving to a Cloud ERP Solution (25.52%), Management Reporting is Cumbersome-Reporting Streamlining is Needed (21.26%), and New Compliance Requirements (18.58%) making up this trio. 

It’s worth noting, with Moving to a Cloud ERP Solution accounting for more than a quarter of the responses, it’s quite possible that these professionals have yet to use an ERP solution. 

While this is merely an educated guess, answers to the second question (What are your top challenges in managing and using ERP software?) resulted in 45.05% of respondents saying that Adequate Training (24.97%) and Commitment from Top Management (20.08%) were their greatest hurdles. It’s not a stretch to think that a significant number of respondents in that 45% would like to use an ERP tool but feel unsupported by management when it comes to the investment of capital or time. 

24.97% of respondents said that Adequate Training is their greatest hurdle in managing and using ERP software.

Some of the other notable insights include the following:

  • 9.13% of respondents said that “Replacing Existing ERP Infrastructure” was their top priority, the least selected priority.
  • Respondents in the Biotech and Pharmaceuticals field were 33.64% more likely to say that Moving to A Cloud ERP Solution was their top priority.
  • Respondents in the Transportation and Logistics field were the most likely to state that Replacing Existing ERP Infrastructure was their top priority at 16.67%, making them 82.6% more likely to say this than the average respondent.
  • Respondents in the Real Estate field were 44.7% more likely to say that New Compliance Requirements was their top priority.

Question

Name PCT.
Over 1 Year 69.3%
6-12 Months 15.03%
3-6 Months 7.29%
Under 3 Months 8.38%

On the whole, ERP investment timelines have accelerated slightly.

Since the end of Q1 2022, the number of respondents stating that their timeline extended beyond the next year decreased from 72.5% to 69.3%. While small, this acceleration was spread out across the board, with responses of Under 3 months increasing the most from 6.9% to 8.38%. Responses expecting investment between 3-6 months (7.29%) and 6-12 months (15.03%) each rose less than one percent, respectively. 

At 15.69%, Real Estate professionals were the most likely to state that they’d be investing within the next 3 months, making them 87.16% more likely to say this than their peers. Conversely, Biotech and Pharmaceutical professionals were most likely to state that their investment timeline extended beyond 12 months.

  • Professionals working in an Operations role (COO, Sales Ops, Marketing Ops, Legal Ops, etc) only stated that they’d be looking to invest between 6-12 months (42.11%) or past the 12 month mark (57.89%).
  • C-Level respondents were 21.5% more likely to say that 6-12 months was their expected timeline for investing in additional ERP software. This same group was also 16.5% less likely to say that they’d be investing over the next 3-6 months.
  • Respondents in the Travel/Hospitality/Entertainment industries were the least likely group to state that they’d make an investment past the one-year mark; in fact, they were 21.74% less likely to say this compared to their peers.

    This is good news for vendors, however, as these professionals were the most likely group to make an investment over the next 3-6 months—not to mention 132.08% more likely to invest than the average respondent—and were the third most likely group to invest within the next 3 months.

30.7% of all respondents have an ERP-related
investment occurring within the next 12 months.

While it’s encouraging to see a progression toward more immediate ERP investment, we need to recognize that more than two-thirds of respondents said they wouldn’t be making any decisions for the next 12 months. A big reason for this, undoubtedly, has to be the sizeable investment required—from every corner of the business—to make a wise choice. For instance, how many organizations do you believe would like to spend half a billion dollars without anything to show for it?

Around 2011, German grocery chain Lidl decided to replace the 90 different systems they were using to power their business with one, centralized ERP. By 2018, however, they’d terminated the entire project and reverted back to their previous systems. The grocer failed to make key, necessary adjustments to their existing processes—and without that willingness to change the blunder cost Lidl €500 million (US $584 million). Talk about a clean-up on aisle one.

According to SoftwarePath’s 2022 ERP Report, the average cost per user is $9,000. While the overwhelming majority of businesses in the US are comprised of 1-4 employees, 18.15% of respondents work within organizations employing 50,000+. Enterprise-sized businesses spending $450 million on the deployment of an ERP solution might seem astronomical, but clearly, it’s not that farfetched. 

Needless to say, selecting an ERP solution is a major decision that is not taken lightly. Any indication that a business is looking to move in the next few quarters should be seen as an organization that’s done a good deal of internal homework. While 95% of businesses have found improvement in some or all of their processes after ERP implementation, 100% would say that being on the same page before massive investment is made is crucial. 

The Results

For ERP vendors and/or those considering adding or upgrading their ERP solution, you now have a more complete and accurate understanding of where your potential clients/peers are in their unique buying journey. 

To further emphasize this, Intent Discovery identified:

  • While 9.13% of respondents said that “Replacing Existing ERP Infrastructure” was their top priority, the least selected priority, Manufacturing and Transportation and Logistics professionals had it at the top of their lists. Given how exacting and automated these fields are, having modern, up-to-date infrastructure is critical.
  • Respondents in the Legal field were 309.7% less likely to say that Adequate Training was their greatest challenge. Instead, these professionals said that Implementation Costs (22.47%) and Sufficient Testing (14.61%) were more challenging.
  • 15.49% of Finance professionals stated that Implementation TIme was their top challenge in managing and using ERP software, making them 24.4% more likely to make this statement than their peers.
  • 21.05% of Agriculture professionals stated that Maintenance Cost was their top challenge in managing and using ERP software, making them 207.41% more likely to make this statement than their peers.
  • 100% of State/Local Government professionals said that moving to a Cloud ERP solution was their top priority. (Thank goodness for the ever-evolving state of cloud-based securities.)

How Intent Data Can Help You Better Understand the Needs of Your Audience

As we move into an era of economic uncertainty around the world, insights like these are more valuable than gold. Having tangible, contextual information regarding the needs of your prospects that removes the guesswork opens the door to more productive and more fruitful interactions, relationships, and, hopefully, sales.

NetLine’s Buyer-Level Intent Discovery offers a glimpse (if not the full view) into what your buying audience craves. The product helps businesses accelerate its sales cycle by capturing first-party intent data by intercepting and engaging the buyer with customized validation questions with this one-of-a-kind product

Become a B2B Marketer that’s leveraging first-party insights for immediate activation and seamless remarketing/sales acceleration today.

How This Data Was Captured

By tapping into dramatic scale beyond the limitations of their own content, our customer leveraged NetLine’s Intent Discovery product to secure first-party sourced intent-rich data squarely aimed at accelerating sales outcomes. Empowered by NetLine’s entire universe content, the client put to good use all 13,000+ assets, billions of data points, and the 35,925,120 different ways of filtering buyers actively performing research.

Unlike traditional intent data, Buyer-Level Intent Discovery helps you better understand the challenges, priorities, and purchase timeline of your ideal targets. Nothing is hidden behind obfuscated datasets and/or black box proprietary scores. 

Perhaps most importantly, Intent Discovery acts as an always-on monitor of all B2B content consumption behavior as professionals are actively researching content specific to their challenges. Monitoring activity is then mined on a real-time basis and intercepted once a buyer has met or exceeded each element required to define intent—capturing custom, intent-rich, customer-specific insights directly from the prospect.





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