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Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is business process management software that allows an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources. ERP software integrates all facets of an operation — including product planning, development, manufacturing, sales and marketing — in a single database, application and user interface.
ERP is an Enterprise Application
ERP software is considered to be a type of enterprise application, that is software designed to be used by larger businesses and often requires dedicated teams to customize and analyze the data and to handle upgrades and deployment.
In contrast, Small business ERP applications are lightweight business management software solutions, often customized for a specific business industry or vertical.
ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning
ERP Software Modules Explained
ERP software typically consists of multiple enterprise software modules that are individually purchased, based on what best meets the specific needs and technical capabilities of the organization. Each ERP module is focused on one area of business processes, such as product development or marketing.
Some of the most common ERP modules include those for product planning, material purchasing, inventory control, distribution, accounting, marketing, finance and HR. A business will typically use a combination of different modules to manage back-office activities and tasks including the following: Distribution process management, supply chain management, services knowledge base, configure, prices, improve accuracy of financial data, facilitate better project planning, automate employee life-cycle, standardize critical business procedures, reduce redundant tasks, assess business needs, accounting and financial applications, lower purchasing costs, manage human resources and payroll.
As the ERP methodology has become more popular, software applications have emerged to help business managers implement ERP in to other business activities and may incorporate modules for CRM and business intelligence, presenting it as a single unified package.
The basic goal of using an enterprise resource planning system is to provide one central repository for all information that is shared by all the various ERP facets to improve the flow of data across the organization.
Enterprise ERP Trends
The ERP field can be slow to change, but the last couple of years have unleashed forces which are fundamentally shifting the entire area. The following new and continuing trends affect enterprise ERP software:
- Mobile ERP: Executives and employees want real-time access to information, regardless of where they are. It is expected that businesses will embrace mobile ERP for the reports, dashboards and to conduct key business processes.
- Cloud ERP: The cloud has been advancing steadily into the enterprise for some time, but many ERP users have been reluctant to place data cloud. Those reservations have gradually been evaporating, however, as the advantages of the cloud become apparent.
- Social ERP: There has been much hype around social media and how important —or not — it is to add to ERP systems. Certainly, vendors have been quick to seize the initiative, adding social media packages to their ERP systems with much fanfare. But some wonder if there is really much gain to be had by integrating social media with ERP.
- Two-tier ERP: Enterprises once attempted to build an all-encompassing ERP system to take care of every aspect of organizational systems. But some expensive failures have gradually brought about a change in strategy – adopting two tiers of ERP.
Depending on your organization’s size and needs there are a number of enterprise resource planning software vendors to choose from in the large enterprise, mid-market and the small business ERP market. Gartner’s annual market share reports put SAP, Oracle, Sage, Microsoft and NetSuite among the top vendors, but Capterra’s data suggests that SAP and Oracle are easily the biggest two, with Epicor, Infor and Microsoft on their heels in a shifting line-up. The top small business ERP vendors includes names like NetSuite, Exact Max, Epicor and Syspro.
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OEM (pronounced as separate letters) is short for original equipment manufacturer, which is a somewhat misleading term used to describe a company that has a special relationship with computer and IT producers. OEMs are manufacturers who resell another company’s product under their own name and branding.
OEM is Similar to VAR
While an OEM is similar to a VAR (value-added reseller), it refers specifically to the act of a company branding a product to its own name and offering its own warranty, support and licensing of the product. The term is really a misnomer because OEMs are not the original manufacturers; they customize the original product.
An Example of OEM
When a computer technology producer manufacturers its product, for example, a computer graphics card, they will usually make two or more versions of the product. One version is distributed by the manufacturer direct to the consumer retail market, using its own branding and offering its own warranty and support.
Other versions of the manufactured product will be distributed through the manufacturer’s OEM and authorized reseller distribution channels. Usually OEM products are the same quality as the retail versions, but warranties may be different, the manual and bundled software may be non-existent, and the cables and connectors required for installation might not be included. In some cases it may be large quantities of the product purchased in bulk by the OEM for mass-production of pre-built systems.
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RAM (pronounced ramm) is an acronym for random access memory, a type of computer memory that can be accessed randomly; that is, any byte of memory can be accessed without touching the preceding bytes. RAM is the most common type of memory found in computers and other devices, such as printers.
There are two main types of RAM:
- DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory)
- SRAM (Static Random Access Memory).
The two types of RAM differ in the technology they use to hold data, with DRAM being the more common type. In terms of speed, SRAM is faster. DRAM needs to be refreshed thousands of times per second while SRAM does not need to be refreshed, which is what makes it faster than DRAM.
DRAM supports access times of about 60 nanoseconds, SRAM can give access times as low as 10 nanoseconds. Despite SRAM being faster, it’s not as commonly used as DRAM because it’s more expensive. Both types of RAM are volatile, meaning that they lose their contents when the power is turned off.
RAM, Main Memory and ROM Explained
In common usage, the term RAM is synonymous with main memory, the memory available to programs. For example, a computer with 8MB RAM has approximately 8 million bytes of memory that programs can use. In contrast, ROM (read-only memory) refers to special memory used to store programs that boot the computer and perform diagnostics. Most personal computers have a small amount of ROM (a few thousand bytes). In fact, both types of memory (ROM and RAM) allow random access. To be precise, therefore, RAM should be referred to as read/write RAM and ROM as read-only RAM.
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Application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API specifies how software components should interact. Additionally, APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together.
Different Types of APIs
There are many different types of APIs for operating systems, applications or websites. Windows, for example, has many API sets that are used by system hardware and applications — when you copy and paste text from one application to another, it is the API that allows that to work.
It’s All in the Planning: Ensuring a Successful Cloud Deployment Download
Most operating environments, such as MS-Windows, provide APIs, allowing programmers to write applications consistent with the operating environment. Today, APIs are also specified by websites. For example, Amazon or eBay APIs allow developers to use the existing retail infrastructure to create specialized web stores. Third-party software developers also use Web APIs to create software solutions for end-users.
Popular API Examples
ProgrammableWeb, a site that tracks more than 15,500 APIs, lists Google Maps, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Amazon Product Advertising as some of the the most popular APIs. The following list contains several examples of popular APIs:
- YouTube APIs: YouTube API: Google’s APIs lets developers integrate YouTube videos and functionality into websites or applications. YouTube APIs include the YouTube Analytics API, YouTube Data API, YouTube Live Streaming API, YouTube Player APIs and others.
- Flickr API: The Flickr API is used by developers to access the Flick photo sharing community data. The Flickr API consists of a set of callable methods, and some API endpoints.
- Twitter APIs: Twitter offers two APIs. The REST API allows developers to access core Twitter data and the Search API provides methods for developers to interact with Twitter Search and trends data.
- Amazon Product Advertising API: Amazon’s Product Advertising API gives developers access to Amazon’s product selection and discovery functionality to advertise Amazon products to monetize a website.
Why Dropbox Poses Data Risks. Reason 1: Data Theft
Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and an increasingly mobile workforce are putting new pressures on IT and changing the requirements for how workers want (and need) to access corporate data.
Most of the problems with Dropbox emanate from a lack of oversight. Business owners are not privy to when an instance of Dropbox is installed and are unable to control which employee devices can or cannot sync with a corporate devices. Use of Dropbox can open the door to company data being synced (without approval) across personal devices. The proliferation of these personal devices, which accompany employees on public transit, at coffee shops, and with friends, exponentially increases the chance of data being stolen or shared with the wrong parties.
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