“Artificial intelligence will define the future of business – we have absolutely no doubt about that. This is why we started very early to research this new technology and its utilisation, even though we’re fully aware that it’s still only the beginning of its evolution. We’re still a long way from completely autonomous and strong artificial intelligence. Yet today’s AI is already extremely well-suited to use in specific areas, such as processing large volumes of data and the identification of undetected correlations. We’re leveraging these benefits with the AI functions in the new version of APplus but are limiting it to a recommendation function throughout. The APplus AI never acts autonomously; instead, it provides well-founded suggestions to users who can either accept or reject them. In this way, we’re ensuring that the decision-making authority rests with humans at all times.”
CTO der Asseco Solutions
Automated APplus personalisation
The new AI functions in APplus provide increased efficiency and automation in a wide range of application areas, such as the personalisation of the ERP system. Prior to this change, users had to manually search the existing APplus catalogue for the operating elements they needed, such as an invoice approval option or an overview of all completed delivery notes. APplus 7.0 now offers the automated and AI-based configuration of the user interface. The dynamic APplus 7.0 portals act as an individual control centre for each user, showing them an overview of all information important to them and giving them access to the actions and activities they need for their everyday work. In order to personalise the portals, the APplus AI function anonymises and analyses the APplus user’s actual utilisation behaviour. Based on that, it either suggests suitable elements from the catalogue or a completely preconfigured portal in the form of a best practice recommendation.
While the dynamic portals give users an immediate overview of the tasks they need to work on, the relevant processes are accomplished with APplus views. This enables them to see the invoices or delivery notes related to a certain order. The analysis of usage behaviour comes in to play here too and suggests which views should be hidden or grouped together. For example: if a person never uses the “shipping notification” view, the AI recommends hiding it. This makes the user interface easier to read while tailoring it to each user. Views can also be modified without the use of AI as users can now show or hide whole columns, such as an invoice number within the invoice view.
Sales support with AI
When companies try to find new customers, the usual way involves time-consuming manual research. APplus 7.0 now helps by using AI to support lead generation. The AI-based APplus Finder analyses existing customers’ websites for specific criteria – then searches for other companies with a similar profile. Once it finds some candidates, it presents the suggestions to staff and the relevant companies can then be analysed further using the enterprise monitor APplus Insights. This helps sales people do their research. Promising leads are then transferred back to APplus automatically and prepared for the submission of a proposal.
Sales staff can then use additional APplus functions like the new sales forecasts. This module is also AI-based and supports Asseco customers by analysing the deal progression and estimating the likelihood of a successful conclusion. For example, it may detect that prospects who became customers usually responded to an offer within 2-3 weeks, while the new prospect has not reacted for five weeks – in that case, it would rate the probability of success lower. By identifying relevant correlations, companies can adapt project priorities accordingly and not waste resources on leads with a low chance of success.
Augmented reality for service
Artificial intelligence is not the only area where APplus 7.0 provides cutting-edge technology for ERP application scenarios. It also blends the digital and real worlds with the introduction of an augmented reality function. This can be used in a wide variety of cases in which real-life conditions, complemented by digital information, can deliver added value to the user, such as in the service and warehousing areas. For example, a service technician can use AR glasses to look at a machine and immediately see sensor data about pressure or temperature, along with information from the MES system about material consumption. The AR system draws the master data required from APplus.
The technician is also able to request support from an internal expert for the machine type concerned. The view in the AR glasses can be sent to the colleague’s computer, so that he or she can see the machine “through the eyes” of the on-site technician. The expert can assist repairs by drawing a circle around components, enabling the technician to see where to repair the machine. AR support for maintenance activities is available immediately as part of the APplus service component.
Overview of additional functions
Further new features in APplus 7.0 include:
- AI-based warehouse optimisation: the new AI module for warehouse optimisation helps APplus 7.0 customers configure their warehouse parameters (put/do not put articles in the warehouse; minimum inventory; order quantity etc.), in that AI calculates the ideal values. Based on this information, the system can then generate concrete ordering suggestions, so that the entire materials scheduling process can be handled by AI. It can also take sales forecasts into account: it uses them to calculate the probability that a certain quantity of products will soon need to be manufactured and uses this information in its ordering suggestions.
- Smart anomaly detection: most errors are preceded by an anomaly in the usual process. Identifying anomalies can enable companies to recognise the risk of an error and intervene in good time. With APplus 7.0, Asseco is introducing an AI-based anomaly agent that can be used for various steps of the overall ERP process. A possible use case is in manufacturing and maintenance, where anomaly detection enables users to predict rejects or develop predictive maintenance scenarios.
- Optimised service planning and documentation: service staff also benefit from the new functions in APplus 7.0. The new service planning board includes the required staff and material resources in the plan and shows whether they will really be available by the desired deadline. The integrated map feature enables companies to plan their service calls using route optimisation, increasing their cost-effectiveness and efficiency. To help technicians document the on-site call, APplus 7.0 includes a timesheet feature. When the work is done, the data is immediately reported back to the ERP system.
- Modernised user experience: APplus 7.0 gives users a refreshed interface that includes support for responsive design. The work view now features an Action Bar as well as a clear task area that stands out as it is lighter in colour than the rest of the interface. The content and task areas in the work view are now separated and can be scrolled independently of one another. The card elements in particular increase the interface’s usability as they – in accordance with responsive design precepts – resize themselves to fit the user’s screen.
APplus 7.0 is available immediately for new as well as existing customers.