Re: Simplicity is another theme...
I've always worked for manufacturing company, hired from school in 1985 to write IBM Mainframe CICS applications and support the American Software ERP system they used. That company went to IBM AS400 (now i5 POWER system) in 1988 still running American Software. I ported my CICS apps to custom AS400 apps. I've been on that platform since. That first company went belly up in 1998, I worked for consulting firm during the big Y2K ERP push for 3 years, where I gained experience with JD Edwards, BPCS and a couple of smaller players. Since 2002, I've worked for another manufacturer who used Infor's BPCS (now called ERP LX) for it's core.
My work usually extended outside scope of what the ERP was good at. The shop floor especially, which is where the license cost was normally saved. I'd write what is typically called a MES now and integrate it into the ERP doing MRP, Inventory Control and other core back office stuff. Most of my new apps now are written using Sencha Ext JS on clients and good old RPG/SQL on the i5 back end. We no longer have source code for BPCS but it does not use adapters, so at least my applications can read/write data from their files without needing a client license. A lot of other systems like SAP and AX use adapters, what I'm doing is impossible with them.
Our Corp chose AX as it's strategic ERP for any unit needing business system replacement. So I have had chance to learn quite a bit about that system. All work is outsourced thru 3rd party business partner, which is what MS does with AX.
You are correct they have more configuration options now than they used to. Certain systems, like General Ledger, you rarely have to modify any source code. But when you try and extend to full scope, over places like shop floor and lab (quality testing), you can not configure your way into that.
We cast copper based alloys (50+ flavors) and process them into all sizes of wire for customers who make everything from batteries to brakes to ammo. All make to order (actually make to engineer better term). Our system is so integrated now that I can block Inside Sales from printing shipping paperwork unless the lab has approved the wire for quality testing. I then take the tests and customer specification and print a Certificate of Analysis for every shipment, then optionally automatically fax/email it along with other shipping paperwork to the customer.
You don't configure your way into that, whether you are SAP or AX or anyone else. If you are a vanilla type processing company, you can use vanilla ERP and you don't need someone like me. But for companies like this one, you need me or you need 10 more data entry clerks all over the place. Which do you suppose is more cost effective?
But no question I'm a dying breed. I'd be so bored in the type of IT going on today, which your article talks about very nicely. But I don't really buy into ERP needing to be on phones idea, very few jobs require that. You may need ERP DATA to display on dashboard on phone, but that is just a glorified paperless report, not transactional ERP. That is problem with adapters, that takes a license now. If you use Named User license, no extra cost for any device. If you use Concurrent or Device based licensing, then it becomes a cost issue to extend to devices like phones.
Now do you see why the ERP guys want to build all that in, instead of someone like me? All about the license cost. And you don't really get rid of my salary, I just become a business analyst making same money who now can't write any code for you. That sure seems like a bad deal for business to me.