To accelerate your smart enterprise journey, you’ll need to turn to an SI that offers a one-stop shop of services. Here’s what to look for.

By Sean Molloy

Here you are. Your organization is finally modernizing, and you’re starting down the path of becoming a smart enterprise. So, where do you turn?

A Google search for “smart enterprise consulting firms” turns up links to business advisory and consulting companies — companies focused on various sub-components of the smart enterprise roadmap. Searching for “Internet of Things consulting firms” returns countless services companies that are, again, focused on various sub-components of the smart enterprise roadmap. To truly find consulting services suited for your smart enterprise journey, you should be looking in one place: first-tier ERP Service Integrators (SIs).

The Digital Core

Every smart enterprise begins with a state-of-the-art digital core. Look at SAP’s tier-one ERP system, which has evolved over the years into an integration and networking powerhouse. With ERP, business users across the organization are brought together in a suite of industry — and role-specific — functionality that’s integrated into a single and central platform.

The digital core and its associated infrastructure become the backbone for the smart enterprise.

Without the core, the enterprise is made up of islands of smart processes that may or may not be cobbled together, restrictive, or even preventative of the free flow of — and access to — people, processes, equipment and data.

The Best Service Integrators

On the other hand, with the digital core foundation in place, we can start the smart enterprise project in earnest. The next key step is hiring a firm, preferably a one-stop shop with the project management competencies necessary to: create a phased roadmap, design the solution (or solutions), properly set the scope and assumptions, identify KPIs, manage the project, and deliver the project with the expertise necessary.

Keep in mind: This is not an easy task. Not all firms have invested in the resources needed to support smart enterprise implementations.

So, how can you narrow down your list of potential SIs? Below are my suggestions — based on over 25 years of industry experience with enterprise projects — of what roles your SI will need to fill. If your SI can’t provide staffing for all these roles with internal staff (or through their partner network), they simply won’t be able to support a holistic approach to building your smart enterprise.

End-to-End Implementation Role List:

  1. Industry Expert: Necessary in the sales process to frame up the opportunity, discuss capabilities, provide relevant examples and define the customer-/industry-specific solution roadmap, timeline, benefits, and costs
  2. Project Sponsor: To align with an support your organization’s C-level executives
  3. Project Manager: Will manage the project timeline, budget, resources, deliverables, and support the customer project manager
  4. Solution Architect: A senior project team member who will design an end-to-end solution in light of industry business requirements — and develop a data management strategy within hot, cold and warm data storage
  5. Things Modeler: Has the necessary device management skills and creates a framework for “things modeling”
  6. Integration Lead: Focuses on telematics, enterprise and external data integration
  7. Task Automation Lead: Sets up AI bots that support data collection, automate tasks, and learn how to identify and isolate significant data for analysis
  8. Predictive Modeler/Data Scientist: Must have the skills to build and validate models which reliably predict future outcomes
  9. Analytics Lead: Performs data mining, event monitoring and alerting, dashboard creation, monitoring of KPIs, “what if?” scenarios, and more
  10. Web Portals Lead: Builds web-based and industry-specific portals and apps
  11. Virtual Reality Lead: Integrates virtual data into real-world environments using tools like the HoloLens
  12. Data Security Expert: Focuses on device and application layer security
  13. Organizational Change Management Expert: Brings the executive vision into focus, supports executive leadership/top-down change, and drives organizational changes required to realize the vision

Find Your Path

Those are the experts you will need and the skills they need to bring to the table. First-tier ERP SIs who focus on the smart enterprise stand out as go-tos in supporting these functions. In addition to their industry-specific digital core consultants, they also provide world-class consulting in all the expertise areas listed above. Their skilled resources can be imlemented on site, in the cloud, and as “Software as a Service” (SaaS).

Find an SI invested in retaining the depth and breadth of their integrated software consulting services, and you’ll find what you’re looking for: a team that will support your smart enterprise journey, from end to end.