Epicor’s ERP focus for 2015: agility, mobility and user experience

Epicor provides enterprise resources planning (ERP), retail management software, supply chain management (SCM), and human capital management (HCM).

In an exclusive interaction with Infotech Lead on the latest trends in the industry, Anish Kanaran, channel director for Epicor in the Middle East, Africa and India, said ERP software is transforming from the desktop-only model to a device-centric mobile technology.

Here’s the excerpt of the interaction:

What were the major IT trends in 2014?

2014 saw the escalation of trends such as mobile technology, cloud services, Big Data analytics and social technologies.

Migration to the cloud represents one of the biggest shifts in the way enterprise software is developed and delivered. In 2014, we saw a continued shift to the cloud for software as a service (SaaS) offerings, as well as Private Cloud products for sensitive data computing. Enterprises are expanding into hybrid cloud computing that brings together the best of both worlds by enabling businesses and their IT organizations unprecedented flexibility in hosting many and varied workloads. It also increases business agility with the flexibility to use a variety of services, the scalability to keep pace with business volume, the efficiency to keep costs to a minimum, and, of course, the ability to protect data and other technology assets.

Access to data across devices has become an attractive prospect for large and small businesses alike – from mobile phones, to tablets, and laptop computers. Executives and employees want real-time access to information regardless of where they are, evident by the increased adoption of mobile solutions that we are seeing. There are significant investments being made into extending enterprise applications on mobile devices. Businesses are leveraging mobile ERP not just for reports and dashboards, but for conducting key business processes. Real-time information needs are demanding more agile business applications.

Big data analytics is the other big trend. Spending on big data technologies and services saw a significant increase in 2014. Enterprises are looking for data and applications that help them to understand their customers, products, and the markets they serve.

Social technologies that increase collaboration have become an integrated part of existing enterprise applications. It’s all about accessing data to reveal key insights for better faster decision making at every level in the organization — from product development, to services, marketing and customer engagement.

Anish Kanaran_Epicor

Tell us about your achievements – client wins, sales, volume, revenue growth, people, reach, geographies, etc. in 2014.

2014 was a defining year for Epicor with the launch of a new product, new partnerships, as well as numerous awards and industry recognitions.

Epicor announced the availability of Epicor ERP version 10 in April 2014, our latest and extremely flexible enterprise resource planning solution that is based on the five key principles: Collaboration, Choice, Responsiveness, Simplicity and Mobility. With Epicor ERP 10, we’ve taken our visionary blend of rich global functionality built on agile technology, and eliminated complexity to make ERP easier to use, more collaborative and more responsive. Guided by the needs of today’s users — we’ve streamlined the users’ experience across multiple devices and expanded deployment choice. The result is an inspired solution that changes an organizations’ relationship with ERP to drive growth and opportunity throughout the business.

Epicor’s next-generation ERP solution was listed as a Champion and awarded Best Overall Value in the new Midmarket ERP Vendor Landscape published by Info-Tech Research Group. The research firm evaluated ten products in the ERP market, including Epicor ERP, focusing on those vendors that offer broad capabilities across multiple platforms and that have a strong market presence and/or reputational presence among mid and large-sized enterprises.

In partnership with RheinBrücke, we announced the setting up of a dedicated Migration Factory for the Epicor EMEA consulting organization. The Migration Factory set up in Chennai India, will support the Consulting organization to migrate/upgrade customers from Epicor 9 to Epicor ERP 10

Another interesting read was the Forrester Consulting study on “The Total Economic Impact™ of Epicor ERP.” This study is based on detailed interviews conducted with a number of Epicor customers worldwide. Their combined attributes and experiences form a composite organization from which a framework was developed to measure the potential financial impact and investment return of Epicor ERP on an organization.  Based on the analysis, Epicor ERP enabled the composite organization to achieve risk-adjusted monetary benefits of more than $3.8 million, with a risk-adjusted ROI of 103 percent and a payback period of 15 months, in addition to $1.25 million in productivity savings bringing the total economic benefit to more than $5 million. Furthermore, with Epicor ERP the composite organization achieved significant business benefits and productivity improvements across its supply chain management, production management, planning and scheduling, sales, finance and IT functions.

What you have done differently in 2014 to win customers?

Epicor has invested heavily in a modern, flexible and agile technology platform to ensure that customers can take advantage of new functionality and trends that can help them become more competitive.  Epicor ERP repeatedly gets a thumbs-up from customers when they compare our product to the competition. When we display the functionality and features of the Epicor solution, customers see that it is a product they can rely on. Epicor offers agile solutions that can help organizations take advantage of trends such as social media, cloud computing and mobility, both now and well into the future.

What were the good and bad moments in your market in 2014?

2014 was a good year for Epicor in the Indian market. We brought on new channel partners and are making investments to expand our market presence.

Your focus areas and strategies in 2014

Our strategy was to strengthen our local customer base and channel community. Therefore partner enablement and new partner recruitment was very important in order for us to expand our presence in the large Indian market. This coupled with rolling out our next generation Epicor ERP 10.

India is a 100 percent channel market for Epicor. Epicor currently has 14 channel partners across India such as Orient Technologies, Daksha, Corporate Serve and RheinBrucke. Keeping in mind the country’s geographic spread, Epicor partners have been strategically chosen to expand our reach so that we are able to support companies with branches across the country. Expanding the partner program allows us to deliver enhanced solutions.

Our plan is to establish ourselves as a key player in the manufacturing segment and then tap into other segments such as distribution and services.

Trends to watch in 2015

Top business initiatives are focused on growth and differentiation through value-added services and improved customer experience. While there has been a high degree of conversation around social, mobile, big data analytics and cloud technology, we’ll see organizations really gear themselves to take advantage of these trends in 2015 and well into the future.

Anytime, anywhere computing is becoming mainstream, especially with the proliferation of mobile technology. Once strictly chained to the office desktop, ERP software is now increasingly becoming a device-centric mobile technology, especially if its users have their way. This was the finding of a recent global study of over 1,500 business professionals by Redshift on behalf of Epicor Software; 97 percent of the respondents said that ERP would be improved in the future if it was more accessible out of the office.

IT decision makers are taking the next step by deploying mobile collaboration applications, which are key components when enabling a secure mobile workforce.

Cloud computing has the potential to impact every aspect of IT and enhance the user experiences in accessing applications and data. Gathering and managing big data and integrating predictive analytics will enhance business performance. Cyber security will become a more important and complex issue.

Your expansion and investment plans in 2015?

Epicor will continue to invest in expanding market presence in India. Working closely with our local partners to deliver innovative software, services and support to our customers.

What are your new strategies for 2015?

2015 is expected to be a good year for ERP as many companies haven’t upgraded their systems in years.  Other enterprise applications expected to be in the limelight in 2015 are CRM, mobile and collaboration solutions.  In 2015, Epicor will focus on our strong ERP offering and channel partnerships that offer us reach. Our product strategy in particular continues to deliver results for us.

Providing deployment Choice: The rapid evolution of global business is changing the way in which companies approach the deployment of ERP solutions. Today’s need for agility and responsiveness has increased the demand for choices, and customers need to be able to use the same product whether they want it deployed on-premises or in the cloud, on a desktop PC, or on a tablet or smartphone. They also need the freedom to change how it is deployed without having to configure and implement a different solution, allowing them to upgrade faster and stay current with technological advances.

In an increasingly competitive environment deployment choice is a significant advantage for companies seeking an agile response to constantly changing market conditions. With modern ERP, companies will no longer be forced to compromise because of the way they want to deploy their solutions. Before, if a business wanted to move from on-premise to the cloud, it could potentially mean sacrificing functionality and forcing end users to move from one user experience to another, but with modern enterprise solutions these potential restraints are eliminated.

Focus on user experience: Among the most prolific impacts that the consumerization of IT has had on technology in the workplace is the usability and functionality of business software. There is no manual for social networking, mobile phones, web-based email, tablets or data storage but people know how to use them. The intuitive way that they work and their design mean that the user can easily learn how to use them through experience.

When a business implements new business software it is critical that the user feels comfortable and ready to accept it as one of their most valuable work tools. This will ensure that users are comfortable, and the business begins to reap the benefits of the investment with minimal disruptions.

Anywhere, anytime access to ERP data from any device: Mobility- Allowing end users to be able to access ERP from anywhere, and at any time, puts them in the driver’s seat and enables them to interact with technology on their terms while empowering even the occasional user. Mobility, especially for ERP will be a big enabler for today’s modern business environments and access to it can lead to real boosts in productivity and significant opportunity to gain competitive advantage.

BYOD – BYOD (bring your own device) is a trend that continues to grow—no longer are all staff coming into the office and turning on their desktop machine, they may have a laptop, tablet or smartphone. It’s important that an ERP solution provides support that enables customers to use their device of choice, while having a consistent experience and be able to enjoy the full benefits of the specific device they’re using. Modern ERP has responded to this by supporting touch and gesture capabilities: there’s no need for customers to invest in additional tools and skills to make their solution mobile, it comes as an inherent capability of the package.

Modern ERP platforms are now supported by open and flexible architectures that encourage and embrace the integration of other applications, enable greater collaboration with business partners, and leverage new technologies without requiring the wholesale replacement of infrastructure or applications. ERP solutions will become more agile, more adaptive and more flexible—all of which lowers the total cost of ownership and encourages business to think more strategically about how they can use technology to drive competitive advantage.

Rajani Baburajan

[email protected]