ERP UX Evolution

Published May 2, 2024

ERP UX: Navigating the Shift from Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0 

ERP (enterprise resource planning) is a software system that integrates core business processes, and ninety-five per cent of businesses report improved processes post-ERP implementation. 

But no matter how powerful an ERP is, its impact on an organisation’s bottom line is defined by optimal ERP user interaction—a key driver in unlocking the full spectrum of business optimisation benefits offered by ERP software. 

As the integration of Industry 4.0 technologies into ERP systems becomes the new standard, the impacts on ERP usability are being closely scrutinised.  

We are already seeing a shift in focus towards ensuring optimal ERP user adoption isn’t lost in the big picture. To this end, Industry 5.0 will herald a more balanced approach in future ERP development with the incorporation of user-centric design (UCD) principles that humanises technology interfaces.  

Here’s what you need to know. 

Industry 4.0 and ERP User Experience Challenges 

As industries embrace the transformative potential of Industry 4.0, the integration of advanced technologies into ERP systems promises unprecedented levels of efficiency, connectivity, and data-driven decision-making.  

Industry 4.0 represents the amalgamation of physical and digital technologies in manufacturing, including: 

  • Internet of Things (IoT): Networked physical devices embedded with sensors and software 
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): Machines capable of intelligent behaviour, including learning and problem-solving 
  • Big data: Large datasets requiring specialised analysis techniques 
  • Cloud computing: On-demand access to computing resources like storage and processing power over the internet has resulted in 60% of all business data being stored in the cloud.  

There’s no denying the business-changing potential of ERP powered by Industry 4.0 technology. Already, ERP users are benefiting from AI recommendations and interactive dashboards that enable real-time visualisation of key performance indicators (KPIs) and production data.  

However, amidst this digital revolution, user experience (UX) emerges as a critical factor shaping the success of ERP implementations in Industry 4.0 environments, with the following key UX challenges cited: 

Complexity of Integration: Industry 4.0 involves the integration of various technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), and advanced analytics with ERP systems. Integrating these technologies seamlessly within the ERP environment can be challenging, leading to complexities in user interfaces and interactions. 

Data Overload: With the proliferation of connected devices and sensors in Industry 4.0, ERP systems gather vast amounts of data from different sources. Managing and presenting this data in a meaningful way to users without overwhelming them can be a significant UX challenge. 

Change Management: Managing user resistance and ensuring smooth transitions to new ERP Industry 4.0 initiatives, while minimising disruptions to productivity and user experience, poses a UX challenge for organisations. 

Adaptability to New Interfaces: Industry 4.0 introduces new interfaces such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for interacting with ERP systems. Ensuring that these interfaces are intuitive and user-friendly, especially for employees accustomed to traditional ERP interfaces, presents a UX challenge. 

Training and Onboarding: Industry 4.0 technologies require specialised skills and knowledge for effective use. Providing adequate training and onboarding resources to users to familiarise them with the new technologies and interfaces within ERP systems is essential but can be challenging due to the complexity of the technologies involved. 

Addressing these user experience challenges is essential if organisations seek to leverage Industry 4.0 technologies to drive innovation, efficiency, and competitiveness. 

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Transition to Industry 5.0: Human-Centric ERP UX

Balancing complexity with ease of use is crucial to ensuring optimal ERP user adoption.

Introducing Industry 5.0, an approach that focuses on the connection between people and machines, where robots and smart technologies augment human capabilities.

This evolution leads to a shift in ERP UX design towards intuitiveness and empathy. Under this philosophy, industrial digitalisation serves business objectives but also meets the actual needs, and caters to the lived scenarios, of employees.

Industry 5.0, often considered as the next evolution beyond Industry 4.0, is expected to build upon the foundations laid by its predecessor while addressing its usability challenges in several ways:

Human-Centric Design: Focuses on creating technologies and systems that are intuitive, user-friendly, and tailored to the needs of workers. This addresses usability challenges linked to complex interfaces and workflows, enabling individuals to interact with advanced technologies more easily and derive greater value from them.

Augmented Intelligence: By integrating AI, machine learning, and natural language processing with human capabilities, Industry 5.0 empowers workers with tools to enhance productivity and problem-solving. This approach addresses usability challenges by offering intelligent assistance and personalised support tailored to users’ tasks and preferences.

Collaborative Robotics: Industry 5.0 emphasises collaborative robotics, promoting human-robot interaction and cooperation in shared workspaces. Unlike Industry 4.0’s isolated automation, this approach leverages the strengths of both humans and machines to simplify tasks, reduce physical strain, and create a safer, more collaborative work environment.

Simplified Integration: Industry 5.0 will tackle usability challenges in data integration and interoperability by advocating standardised interfaces and communication protocols. This streamlining of technology integration aims to reduce complexity, foster seamless data exchange, and enhance interoperability across devices and platforms. By simplifying deployment and maintenance while enabling greater flexibility, Industry 5.0 enhances usability and adaptability to evolving business requirements.

User-Centric Innovation: Technology development will be driven by end-users’ needs and feedback. By actively involving workers in design, development, and testing processes, Industry 5.0 ensures that products and systems align with user requirements and preferences. This approach fosters the co-creation of intuitive and effective solutions, tailored to the diverse needs of workers across various industries and roles, thereby addressing usability challenges effectively.

Overall, Industry 5.0 holds the potential to address usability challenges inherited from Industry 4.0 by emphasizing human-centric design, augmented intelligence, collaborative robotics, simplified integration, and user-centric innovation.

The emphasis on elevating the ERP user experience is guided by the following user-centred design (UCD) principles:

  • Visibility: Can users understand the purpose and function of the interface immediately?
  • Accessibility: Is it easy to find information and use features?
  • Legibility: Is the text clear and easy to read?
  • Language: Is the terminology clear and jargon-free?

By prioritising the needs and capabilities of workers, Industry 5.0 aims to create a more inclusive, collaborative, and user-friendly approach to technology adoption and deployment, ultimately driving greater efficiency, productivity, and satisfaction in the workplace.

Navigating the Shift from Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0

While ERP developers focus on improving future ERP user experience, organisation’s can take steps now to support their ERP users to navigate the integration of the advanced technologies of Industry 4.0 and pave the way to an Industry 5.0 transition.

Key support strategies that can be adopted include:

Provide Training and Education: Training should cover not only the technical aspects of the Industry 4.0 technologies but also their practical applications within the ERP environment.

Offer Hands-On Workshops and Simulations: Organise hands-on workshops and simulations to allow users to familiarise themselves with the new technologies in a controlled environment.

Create User Guides and Documentation: Develop user guides and manuals with step-by-step instructions, tips, and best practices, that help users effectively navigate and leverage the capabilities of the technologies.

Establish Support Channels: Set up dedicated support channels, such as help desks, online forums, and chat support, to assist users with any questions or issues they encounter while using the advanced technologies.

Encourage Continuous Learning: Offer ongoing training opportunities, webinars, and workshops focused on the advanced technologies. Encourage users to stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices through self-directed learning and PD activities.

Promote Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Provide platforms and tools for sharing insights, experiences, and lessons learned related to the integration of advanced technologies. Encourage users to collaborate with each other, share tips and tricks, and learn from each other’s successes and challenges.

Gather User Feedback: Identify areas for improvement based on UX feedback, address the usability issues, and adjust the implementation as needed to better meet user needs and expectations.

Monitor Usage and Adoption: Track usage metrics and adoption rates to gauge how effectively users are integrating and utilising the advanced technologies within the ERP system. Use data analytics to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement, and take proactive steps to address any barriers to adoption.

By implementing these strategies, organisations can enhance user satisfaction, productivity, and overall success with their ERP systems.

The Wrap 

An increasing number of manufacturers are adopting Industry 4.0 technologies to enhance efficiency and productivity. Balancing these innovations with usability is a core objective of Industry 5.0.

With Industry 5.0, the spotlight will shift to a human-centric approach to UX, where the well-being and empowerment of the people who use advanced technologies are given equal priority.

In the meantime, organisations can stay on top of the evolving ERP technological changes by taking steps to ensure ERP users are equipped to embrace new technologies and capabilities with confidence and competence.

Is your business set to thrive in the era of intelligent manufacturing with a future-proof ERP solution?


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