Since college I have loved ERP software. I embraced the concept of an order entry system back in 1993 when I created a tiny Lotus 123 script to enter a basic sales order. From that day on I was hooked. I mean really hooked. I fell absolutely in love with technology and could not turn back no matter how hard I tried.
After college I found a temporary position at a barcode and data collection distribution and before I knew it, I was a full-time employee running their operations. Why? Because I fell in love with the ERP system they installed three months before my arrival. That and the fact that I was one of the few employees who “got” new their ERP system. I didn’t just get it, I embraced it with my entire being. For the next three years I worked 60-80 workweeks and spent much of my time on the applicable. And while it wasn’t perfect, it helped me manage a national distributor with multiple branches and distribution centers. Again, I was in love with my job and my ERP software. To this day I miss the chaos and the challenge of fixing every operational woe with my ERP system.
Flash forward fifteen years and I’ve moved from my first college job through working ten years for an ERP developer and now I run my own Internet marketing company. The trouble is my love for marketing and ERP rarely seem to connect as much as I would like. While a VP of marketing at an ERP developer, I myself struggled with managing marketing via my ERP system. While I lived off my personalized dashboards and workbenches, I used a lot of offline processes to help manage what my beloved ERP software could not. Don’t get me wrong; I knew exactly where each lead came from, where it was at in our sales process, and how long the sales cycle should take before new business was closed. I had lead generation and tracking, but I lacked the ability to proactively manage marketing. Within my ERP software, everything I did for marketing felt reactive, which is not at all, what marketing is supposed to be.
Honestly, I don’t think I’m alone. While I doubt there are many marketing people reading this blog entry, I know they would concur with me if they did. And I don’t believe ERP developers have reached the concept of automating marketing enough to work hard at developing strong marketing content for their user community. They are side tracked with fuel surcharges, customer service needs, and compliance issues. And really, who listens to marketing people anyway? We are overhead plain and simple.
Today I received a feed from Web Strategy by Jeremiah. He was covering CRM software (aka ERP software) and the newer functionality for social media management. Yes, social media, the new darling of topics on the Internet. Social media reminds me so much of ERP software, because just like a complicated ERP system, few people get it. They think you can throw up a Facebook page or Twitter account and call it good. Not so fast. Just like an integrated ERP system, your social media accounts are fully integrated with your overall marketing campaign and search engine optimization. There are rules to follow and there are reasons why you do what you do on Twitter versus Facebook. Honestly, I think you either get it or you don’t. I always felt the same about ERP software. You need to look past your little piece of the ERP pie and you need to look into the entire pie or organization to see how your data input alters another department, process, or users. Social media is the same. Your tweet on Twitter will alter other marketing activities. Good or bad. The Twitter community is persnickety and they speak differently than Facebook or MySpace. Make a mistake and you will be ignored or blocked. Do the same in an ERP application and you’d just lose your program access.
Okay I’m running off track here a bit. I have to really question the blog entry by Jeremiah, because I truly question if the ERP developers and their programmers get social media and marketing. I question if they can truly meet the needs of marketing departments and look beyond a simple project plan, marketing budget, or lead-tracking program. Marketing, and in particular Internet marketing, is like voodoo. Hard to quantify and difficult to measure results, yet something I believe in. Okay I don’t believe in voodoo, but I did catch your attention. I do believe in successful marketing and I do believe in ERP software.
So Jeremiah, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, and Salseforce – do you really get it? Are you writing software code that your marketing department lives and breathes by or are you writing code that helps your salespeople sell your ERP software? Ask yourself the question, then ask a marketing person who understands both their functional role and your ERP software. The answer may surprise you.