Social media inspired ERP aims at removing the chore for consultants

14 August 2017 6 min. read
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Working in ERP systems doesn’t have to be a chore for consultants, as utilising social-network techniques could see productivity thrive, according to the UX architect behind professional services application VOGSY.

Google’s Cloud Next 2017 conference in San Francisco, held in March, was attended by more than 10,000 customers, developers, partners and other professionals, kicking off a global tour that has since taken place in London, Tel Aviv, Madrid and Tokyo. On June 21, the roadshow reached Amsterdam, with the digital giants showcasing how enterprises and entire sectors are benefiting from the latest in cloud technology which leverages the company’s innovative G-Suite.

G-Suite – formerly known as Google for Business – is the company’s attempt to break into the business market, which has to date been dominated by large players such as Microsoft. VOGSY may be in unchartered territory, but it has been gathering momentum since its launch, and has already gained a network of business partners looking to build on their new ERP system.

Attending the Google NEXT event, Ruben Kruit, CTO of Young Capital, one of the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands, told that the archetypal millennial business had switched from more traditional systems for greater ease of systems integration, stating, “Growth is hindered exponentially by the old ERP methods, which have not kept pace with current digital innovations. Leveraging G-Suite gives us the chance for more engagement with the system, and for more enjoyable ERP experiences.”

Social media inspired ERP aims at removing the chore for consultants

While facing stiff competition from the globe’s most successful business ERP systems then, Google argues its system is much more malleable, allowing for other groups to leverage specific parts of the suite, tailoring packages to the needs specific industries.

The G-Suite Marketplace features a wide range of enterprise apps from certified and trusted partners that do this, adding functionality and features to native Google Cloud apps, such as Drive, Gmail, Google Docs, Slides and Sheets. Admitted to the G-Suite market in March 2017, VOGSY, a platform for the internal operations for consulting groups, is the first such app aimed at the professional services industry, with the programme aiming to transform the way consultants work on the go by leveraging the G-Suite.

VOGSY’s ‘Holy Grail’

Despite key players across the industry constantly encouraging global business to embrace technological innovation, the professional services sector itself remains relatively traditional when it comes to change, in particular when it comes to managing internal operations. “Even in the digital era consultancies remained stuck using inefficient, old modes of business, with paperwork usually ending up buried in a stack on each manager’s constituent desk,” Wim Keizer, the chief UX designer behind VOGSY commented. “By leveraging G-Suite to meet the specific needs of the consulting industry, we can cut those huge processes into manageable, fast moving chunks.”

VOGSY brings what it calls a unique new perspective to ERP systems – providing a mobile-exclusive platform with a user interface inspired by social media.

Speaking to following VOGSY’s session at the Google NEXT conference in Amsterdam, Keizer, the senior front end designer behind VOGSY’s intuitive newsfeed-style platform, was keen to point out his belief that UX design could be used to innovate every aspect of business, not just customer interactions, while further warning that failing to utilise such innovations, companies could risk falling behind disruption from more dynamic competitors.

“The ‘Holy Grail’ we were searching for over the two years of developing VOGSY was to find a way to simplify business processes to the point where there was no longer a delay in handover between team members.”

Social media inspired ERP aims at removing the chore

Development on the project began in 2015, with designers originally experimenting with traditional ERP systems such as SAP. However, according to Keizer, it quickly became apparent that for what the team were aiming for a more fluid system would be required. VOGSY went on to launch the app based on G-Suite in late 2016.

Social network inspired collaboration

Aimed at firms with staff sizes between 25 and 5,000, VOGSY is based on interaction, rather than action as per more traditional ERPS, with the app’s newsfeed-based workflow aiming to stimulate speed and collaboration between team members. The system gives some level of access to all members of a consultancy, with different levels of control assigned accordingly, in a similar style to the Admin structures on many social networking ‘Groups’. Users can also ‘follow’ other projects they are not directly involved in, as well as complimenting co-workers posts, leading ideally to an enhanced cross company knowledge of projects, as well as an improved camaraderie among employees.

The application is browser-based to minimise memory usage, while the newsfeed will only load a top few items unless the user scrolls further, to maximise mobile battery life. It also comes complete with VICTOR, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) function which acts as a kind of digital PA, reminding users of the days priorities with push-notifications – which can be managed by users to avoid ‘overkill’ – along with improving the usability of the new technology.

According to Keizer however, it is unlikely anyone using the app should experience difficulty understanding the platform. With no need for multiple log-ins across various platforms, even previous technophobes can make the most of the platform’s streamlined process. “While younger generations of consultants can thrive on VOGSY, non-millennials should not be daunted by the prospect of using our app. They will recognise the intuitive lay-out from the consumer products they and their families already use in their daily lives and at home.”

While he believes the app represents a major leap forward in how a 24/7 industry can deal with multiple workloads however, VOGSY’s interface architect is keen to stress that there is still room for further development, noting an offline-mode as a key target for the future, to enable remote work in emergency cases where network coverage falters. Keizer concluded, “We are constantly looking for ways to improve – we will blend our focus on feedback-driven alterations with the next trends across all levels of social media and digital technology to translate their usability to the needs of the modern consulting industry.”