ERP has come a long way in the past few years, evolving in unanticipated ways with technologies and in the marketplace. Cloud computing, mobile technologies, and social media mean new opportunities and challenges for the enterprise systems.

ERP still does what it has always done well. ERP collects, manages and distributes information across the enterprise to drive efficiency, quality and productivity. By breaking down information barriers to cooperation and collaboration between critical business functions, ERP helps companies accelerate time-to-market, shorten lead times, reduce costs and improve customer service.

Now that ERP survived the Mayan apocalypse, here are several ideas to consider for improving your ERP in 2013:

ERP in the Cloud – The cost benefits of migrating to a cloud-based ERP make it well worth considering for all companies. Cloud-based solutions and services are easy to deploy, integrate and upgrade — and they don’t require additional investment in IT infrastructure and staff. Bringing your business into the cloud can be especially beneficial for businesses that anticipate rapid growth, have limited IT infrastructure, seasonal spikes or multiple locations.

Powerful Analytics – Today’s advanced enterprise analytics empower organizations to anticipate change and react effectively to shifts in the dynamic business environment. Integrated analytics capabilities extract and enhance the data in your company’s ERP to help you make smarter decisions, faster.

Mobile ERP – To stay competitive, companies are rapidly moving toward a more mobile enterprise model. Mobile ERP tools help companies create better ways for end users to access and interact with information. With mobile ERP apps, mobile workers get easy access to powerful functionality and real-time data anywhere, any time.

Social ERP – As the next generation of ERP systems emerges, social applications are proving their value in connecting businesses internally and with customers. By facilitating collaboration and communication among employees and partners using your ERP system social ERP tools can enable them to proactively solve business problems together.

Easier Configuration – Leading ERP applications provide a full set of functionality and pre-integrated modules, and optimized interfaces – that means configuration is much less costly than it has ever been. Next-generation ERP solutions allow organizations to quickly create new processes, improve existing ones, and add functionality as the needs of the business change. As the need for enhanced functionality increases, these capabilities can be “turned on” for little or no additional license fee.

Today’s ERP solutions deliver return on investment almost out of the box, with easier configuration, cost-effective cloud-based options, and sophisticated analytics. Mobile and social alternatives can help users deliver better service levels and improve productivity. These solutions offer enterprises of all sizes unprecedented opportunities to drive business performance and competitive advantage.