Enterprise Resource Planning's Role in Intellectual Captial

While teaching an intellectual capital management course I noticed some confusion are having over the role of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in intellectual capital. Some students are incorrectly categorizing ERP systems as a type of intellectual capital system; more specifically, a type of business intelligence (BI) system. In this post I will explain the relationship of ERP systems to intellectual capital systems in terms of the organization's processes as intellectual capital and as a type of BI system.

First, the role of ERP systems as an intellectual capital system for managing the organization's processes. One form of an organization's intellectual capital assets is its processes. The knowledge of these processes can be a strategic asset for the organization. ERP systems are used to standardize processes across the organization and this is where some confusion may exist. While ERP systems facilitate process standardization, these systems require adoption of more generic processes rather than unique processes organizations use to gain strategic advantage. The ERP systems are not used to develop innovative processes but rather the adoption of common processes and therefore are not contributing to the strategic process intellectual capital of the organization.

Secondly, the role of ERP systems as a type of BI system for supporting the development of new knowledge within the organization. ERP systems are transaction processing systems (TPS) used to conduct operational business in the organization. These systems yield large quantities of transactional data and this data can be used as an input source to enterprise data warehouses. However, the ERP systems themselves are not classified as a BI system since their primary role is transactional rather than informational. Additional tools can be used to make use of the transactional data but ERP systems are considered transactional systems with the potential of supporting BI practices.

It is clear that ERP systems contribute to developing an organization's intellectual capital but these systems are not intellectual capital systems by themselves. Organizational knowledge is very much associated with the development and implementation of these systems but, once in production, these systems primarily serve as transactional systems.


  1. Indeed, ERP is a transactional system assumed to be running in the backgrounds, however I can relate to student's confusion. Perhaps, confusion is more to do with how we are viewing or defining the entire system. If we are defining it as an I/O or "Enterprise" system where ERP being a critical input then perhaps, we can relate to students' doubts. In other words (using an analogy) are we going to position a car as "a vehicle" or as collection of systems such power, tran. & motor, each distinct yet critical to function as a transportation medium. Therefore, it seems that the bigger concern is how do we define it ? There is no one industry standard view (Enterprise or Diffuse) on it but perhaps I may be wrong!

  2. Great Blog !!!
    It looks like you spend a large amount of time and effort in writing the blog. I am appreciating your effort.
    Tangible benefits improves Improves the productivity of process and personnel where as in intangible benefits Increases organizational transparency and responsibility.
    Thanks for sharing such a nice blog on benifits of ERP..


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