The digital revolution is well and truly underway, and shows no sign of slowing down, let alone reversing course. Equipment Rental companies who are leveraging outdated technology may get left behind the competitive curve as other organizations embrace tools and systems that give them greater insight into and across their businesses and the power to act on that insight.
This guide is designed to help equipment rental companies understand what digital transformation is, how to gain insights and other benefits from digital transformation through a modern ERP platform, and some pitfalls to avoid along the way.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation, in the briefest definition, is the process of moving vital business functions from legacy, often physical systems to an agile, digital platform. This process can change almost all, if not every aspect of a business and how it operates. Most commonly this is achieved by moving from a legacy, on-site ERP system to a modern, cloud-based ERP provider.
By going digital a rental company can move itself from the purely transactional nature of legacy ERP to a system that enhances operations across the whole of their business- opening doors to them that did not even exist before and allowing them to focus on key areas to maximize efficiency, quality, and profitability.
Where You Can Go With The Right ERP
The right ERP solution can greatly enhance nearly all aspects of a rental operation’s business.
A modern, agile ERP solution will offer business in-depth visibility into every aspect of their operation, be it financial, purchasing, inventory, or rental scheduling. With drill-down ability users will find detailed break- downs allowing for up-to-date info on all aspects of the business. With mobile connectivity users are able to access this data from any device at any time, no longer tied to workstations.
This constant availability of up-to-date information allows businesses to stay top of mind with customers- no longer needing to check the data later and get back to them to answer questions, and able to head off problems before they start thanks to the easy visibility.
The Future is Now: Automation, Al, and Machine Learning
Perhaps the most powerful boost a digital transformation can offer a rental provider is the upgrades in regards to “future technologies” such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). “Future technologies” is a misnomer, however, as rapid advancements have been made in these fields in the last few years, providing early adopters massive benefits. AI has already shown great ability to analyze external factors such as buying trends or weather events to help predict changes to the marketplace, and advances are expected to continue for the next few years.
Automation functions are another game changer for rental operators. Top-class ERP platforms will allow users to set up automatic alerts based on certain business conditions. This allows users to reach out proactively to their customers in the event of a change.
With advances in machine learning, these automation options can extend to suggesting alternate equipment in the event that requested equipment is unavailable or damaged or suggesting parts or services that can be sold alongside the rental order.
With advances in these fields continuing constantly, more enhancements to modern ERP platforms are expected to be rolled out in the years to come, including advanced integration with robotics, as well as continued advancements in “intelligent advisor” technologies, ideal for customer support.
Safe and Secure in the Cloud
An often overlooked factor in ERP platforms are the disaster recovery and cyber-security considerations. Legacy, on-site servers are in constant danger of falling victim to natural disasters, cyber-attack, or other unfortunate incidents that can inflict expensive and long-lasting damage to a company. A modern, cloud-based ERP solution eliminates the concern of a natural disaster or other physical catastrophe, and top of the line ERP providers always include a full cyber- security suite, meaning that a businesses systems and data are safe from disaster on all fronts.
As noted above, a key functional improvement for a modern ERP solution is that it provides end to end functionality. Modern ERP solutions allow users to see into every aspect of their business.
This is particularly important for rental equipment providers, as it allows direct, in-depth control over the entire rental cycle- from equipment purchase, warehousing, renting, invoicing, maintenance, to returns and eventually selling the equipment.
This is just a sampling of the myriad improvements to a businesses quality of life that a modern ERP solution provides. By arming its users with these powerful tools, modern ERP allows the rental business to stay top of mind with customers while increasing employee happiness with easy to use, intuitive interfaces.
Pitfalls to Avoid for a Smooth Digital Transformation
While digital transformation is a positive thing for any company sometimes businesses can unintentionally self-sabotage in a number of ways. Here are a few key things to avoid:
Leadership Engagement is Lacking
Any major company change is likely spear-headed by senior management, often at the executive level. The rest of the company follows the example leadership sets, so if senior leadership is not sufficiently behind and enthused by the change to a modern ERP solution, the rank-and-file may struggle to adapt to the changes the process requires. To avoid this it is recommended that a member of leadership act as the ‘cheerleader’ or ‘point-person’ for the implementation, tasked with ensuring that the company remains entirely behind the project.
Employees Stuck in the Past
Following on from the previous point, an unenthusiastic or backwards-looking workforce can spell doom for a successful implementation. An ERP switch is a huge change, and can often be overwhelming for employees, particularly those who have been entrenched in the old way of doing things for a long time. Leadership must ensure that the employees are empowered to take charge of their new duties and processes, not burdened by them.
Don’t Hold On to Old Ways
Perhaps most important is that a business must ensure that there are no exceptions to their transformation. No legacy analog processes should be allowed to remain, no matter how comfortable or entrenched.
Modern ERP solutions are designed to be all-encompassing. Holding onto old ways of doing things only harms the implementation, and the company as a whole.
Make the Change Today
The age of digital transformation has arrived. The need for an all-encompassing, agile, modern ERP solution is a reality that businesses must face. By choosing a top-of-the-line partner and provider, rental companies can position themselves to be top of mind with customers, and embrace the future to ensure they remain at the front of the class for years to come.
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