The Acumatica summit has now concluded, but the event gave attendees much food for thought. After the company’s successful rollout of 2018 R2 in the fall of 2018, many wondered how the company could top that product launch. Acumatica surpassed expectations with the release of Acumatica 2019 R1 on day 2 of the Acumatica Summit.
Discussions at the Summit included unveiling the company’s product roadmap and reviewing their commitment to using customer feedback to guide product development. It is this feedback loop, perhaps unique to Acumatica, that led to the updates which resulted in 2019 R1.
Other fascinating developments from the company include Acumatica Alexa for Business, a voice-activated module that works with natural language inputs to streamline retrieving information from Acumatica, advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, and the Acumatica Cloud ERP Connector for Microsoft Flow.
Acumatica 2019 R1: Advances in Cloud ERP
Acumatica continues to break new ground with the release of Acumatica 2019 R1. The much-anticipated release includes product advances in usability, order management and inventory, financials, project accounting, and CRM. Industry-specific features and improvements were announced for Construction Edition, Manufacturing Edition, and Field Service Edition.
At the Summit, Acumatica Chief Product Officer Ali Jani showcased several features of R1 including:
- Improvements to the side panel
- Personalizing your website or instance based on color to more clearly identify branch offices
- Multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication is an especially significant advance in the age of cybersecurity. It utilizes multiple sources of data to authenticate user access. Access is granted only after two or more pieces of authentication data are presented. Data may be possession (something only the user has, such as a cellphone to receive a text authentication code), knowledge (something only you know, such as a password), or inherence (something unique to the user).
Other new features found in Acumatica 2019 R1 include multi-current capabilities and rate consistency in Project Accounting and Field Service.
Acumatica’s new mobile design also provides easier navigation on mobile devices. The new color system on the desktop version enables users to set different colors for branches, locations, field offices, or any system that makes sense for their business.
As always, Ali underscored Acumatica’s commitment to functionality, usability, and easy implementation of both the core Acumatica product and modules.
The Acumatica Customer Feedback Loop
Throughout the Acumatica Summit, one thing became crystal clear: this is a company seriously dedicated to customer feedback.
The company uses a substantial group of feedback mechanisms to collect information on how their products are used, field requests for updates and changes, and more. They visit customers at their workplaces to see Acumatica in action.
That last bit is a crucial difference between Acumatica and many other competing cloud ERP platforms. Although many other ERP platforms offer user-friendly interfaces, Acumatica strives to ensure that the real-world application of their products meets its users’ needs and goals. By watching, listening, and speaking to customers at their workplaces using Acumatica, they can see firsthand what customers like and use about their product, and what they don’t. Each iteration of Acumatica becomes better and better thanks to this feedback loop.
Natural Language Recognition: Acumatica Alexa for Business
Almost everyone has heard about, seen, or interacted with Alexa, the ubiquitous voice-activated AI bot from Amazon that can do everything from play your favorite Beatles hits to ordering dog food delivered to your home. Acumatica now applies natural language recognition technology to business through their Acumatica Alexa for Business application, unveiled at the Summit.
This voice-recognition software enables Acumatica users to perform a wide array of everyday tasks. An example might be looking up an order. Instead of spending time clicking through screens or hunting among files, a user asks, “Alexa, read back to me Customer XYZ’s order of May 2” and she’s off and running. The natural language recognition program can improve productivity in many ways, and both retrieves and adds data to the cloud ERP system.
Acumatica Cloud ERP Connector for Microsoft Flow
Microsoft’s automation tool now works with Acumatica cloud ERP thanks to Microsoft Flow. Microsoft Flow allows users to streamline tasks across apps sync files, get notifications, collect data, and more. Users do not need to work with developers to build specific apps or modules; the connector makes bridges between programs without special programming or unique coding.
The Future: Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and More
Machine learning and artificial intelligence create quite a buzz in the software world, but how can the average business owner benefit from these advances? Leaders at Acumatica showcased both advances with a hint at what might be on its way in the Acumatica of the future.
One example of how machine learning and AI can build a faster, better, and more efficient warehouse came from Google. A beta program from Google called Cloud Vision Product Search promises Acumatica users faster, easier, and better product lookup. That’s great news for companies handling a lengthy list of SKUs.
At the Summit, presenters demonstrated Cloud Vision Product Search with an example product that offers many variations: shoes. Size, width, and color variations make inventory management challenging. Cloud Vision Product Search was up to the challenge and provided a response using a smartphone camera.
As the event continued, it became clear that both machine learning and artificial intelligence are the wave of the future, especially for manufacturers who work with large numbers of SKUs. Products such as Cloud Vision and voice activation using natural language recognition will make the warehouse of the future streamlined and highly efficient. Gone are the days of searching for minutes through bins for one SKU; smart programs will be able to recognize and pinpoint items quickly.
Field service is another area that may benefit enormously from the advance featured in Cloud Vision Product Search. If you’re out on a call, this product can find the right replacement part in a jiffy. That enables you to move on to the next call much faster.
Machine learning and AI also help make routine, repetitive tasks more manageable. Because machines now learn from experience, they can anticipate routine queries. If you always run a particular report each day, machine learning and AI will eventually enable your system to remember what report you needed by when.
Although we aren’t at the point yet where machines can read our minds, they rapidly become an uncanny partner in the field of business. Voice recognition, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and simplified connectors between programs are making it easier and faster to build a system that is perfect for your business needs. It’s incredible how far products such as Acumatica have come over the years, and with each launch, we see more significant developments that enhance business productivity. As the year progresses, it will be exciting to watch where Acumatica is going with R1 and subsequent R2 releases.