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Building artificial intelligence into business process management isn’t easy. Many companies add AI to processes by building or buying single-task bots, such as natural language processing systems or vision recognition tools, and adding them to processes using traditional, non-AI methods. For example, engineers write scripts, and business analysts create automated workflows using process visualization tools.

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Every best practice paper I've read and conference I've attended has identified having a solid project risk and issue management process as a critical ERP program success factor. So why is it that major problems in ERP programs, whether they are technical, process or resource allocation related, surface too late or not at all?

I think that a root cause is a project team affliction which I identify as Fear of Premature Escalation or FPE. FPE can be isolated to a single team member or be systemic throughout the entire project team. It can afflict internal teams, system integrators, software providers and independent consultants alike. The symptoms are difficult to detect but the affliction can be deadly for an ERP project.

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The systems of record employed to run the enterprise — ERP, CRM, HR, manufacturing, etc. — may not be the most thrilling software, but their successful implementation plays an outsized role in ensuring a smooth-running business. Oracle and SAP loom large as the broadest, deepest vendors in the space. But Charles Phillips, CEO of New York-based Infor, wants to elbow his way into the top tier.

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Cloud technology and the increasing pace of globalization allow small and mid-size businesses to scale faster than ever, but also puts them in a bind. How do they take advantage of opportunities to grow when they have limited resources?

At its annual SuiteWorld event, in Las Vegas this week, NetSuite is offering some answers. The SaaS ERP company is, among other things, bringing on software partners with expertise in global tax regimes, offering a planning and budgeting service, adding analytics tools for its product family, enhancing its line of SuiteSuccess preconfigured, vertical-market cloud applications, and coming out with new APIs.

In the wake of its 2016, $9.3 billion acquisition by Oracle, NetSuite has refined its focus on targeting fast-growing, vertical-market SMBs, which it defines as companies with between $1 million and $200 million in revenue.

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Failed ERP implementations halt the careers of even the most seasoned IT leaders. But successful ERP projects buoy them.

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Every organization manages people, purchases products and services, sells (or gives away) something and accounts for money. The way each activity is handled will vary, but every enterprise performs these basic functions. In most cases, it is more effective to handle these processes through an integrated software platform than through multiple applications never designed to work together. That's where enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems come in.

While ERPs were originally designed for manufacturing companies, they have expanded to service industries, higher education, hospitality, health care, financial services, and government. Each of industry has its own peculiarities. For example, government ERP uses Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) rather than traditional purchasing and follows government accounting rules rather than GAAP. Banks have back-office settlement processes to reconcile checks, credit cards, debit cards, and other instruments.

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Almost two-thirds of businesses are planning to migrate an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to the cloud or are already doing so, despite many of them having concerns about moving sensitive data, security and regulatory compliance.

That’s according to the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), which asked 200 businesses about their ERP migration plans. They represent a small slice of a big market: Businesses will spend $30 billion on cloud ERP systems in 2021, and a total of $266 billion on all public cloud services, according to CSA's Impact of Cloud on ERP report.

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The University of California San Diego has a Cobol problem.

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If you have any doubts that digital transformation is top of mind for IT executives, just take a look at what they're buying. Spending on enterprise software, particularly cloud services and applications, is expected to grow faster than any other category of IT this year, fueling an overall increase in global spending on technology.

That's according to a report from market research and consultancy firm Gartner, released today, that forecasts a 3.2 percent rise to $3.77 trillion in worldwide spending on IT.

[ Comparison shopping? See "The best ERP systems:10 enterprise resource planning systems compared," with evaluations and user reviews. | Learn why companies are increasingly moving to cloud ERP and how to spot the 10 early warning signs of ERP disaster. | Get weekly insights by signing up for our CIO Leader newsletter. ]

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As enterprises transition from on-premises IT, Oracle is positioning itself as the premier, one-stop-shop provider for cloud computing. You may think this is a stretch, considering that, for example, Oracle has been lumped in with "Others" in Gartner's ranking of top public infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers, far below leaders like Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

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