News from Epicor’s annual user conference

A round-up of what Epicor has going on, including the new release of Epicor ERP and where the company stands with cloud computing

News from Epicor’s annual user conference
Credit: Epicor

Epicor’s annual user conference in Nashville this year was a good chance to spend time with the company, its partners and its customers. I have some big thoughts about Epicor and its existential issues, but I’ll leave that post for a little later. For now, here’s a roundup of what we saw at the show.

Show demographics

Thirty-two countries were represented at the show, with some 3,300 attendees. There was a good mix of customers, media/analysts, partners (although more on that in a later post) and, of course, Epicor’s employees. The event venue, the Gaylord Opry, was a little strange and, in my mind at least, was a bit of a reflection of the company, its customers and its struggles. But again, more on that later.

On R&D

Epicor’s CEO took to the stage to claim that the company spends 20 percent of its resources on development. This is, alas, a very problematic metric and can mean a bunch of things. I’d like to see some hard numbers around the percentage of total revenue that Epicor expends on R&D, as well as a clear breakdown of what is actually R&D and what is really business as usual.

Sectors and verticals

Epicor was quick to point out the expertise it has within vertical industries, an assertion that is pretty fair. Indeed, rather than talking about verticals, it talks about broad sectors—manufacturing, distribution, retail, services—and under these sectors sit a number of micro verticals.

As Epicor pointed out, while both within the manufacturing sector, electronic manufacturing is a fundamentally different beast from rubber and plastic manufacturing. It can’t be overstated how important this is, and if Epicor has a defensible competitive advantage, it is around this hyper-specific vertical knowledge.

Cloud. Kind of

Again more on this later, but the line I heard time and again was that Epicor loves the cloud but is focused on helping customers grow—no matter which deployment method that dictates. Cloud has become a religion for people, Epicor opined, saying, "While we’re totally committed to it and believe it will be the future, it’s not right for some people."

If you see an inherent conflict with that statement, you’re not the only one—and that was a glaring issue for me.

Epicor pointed out that while they’re keen to attract net new cloud customers, they have 20,000 existing customers they need to support—and that is a core focus for them. Innovator’s dilemma, indeed!

New software release

Epicor’s latest version of Epicor ERP includes new deployment models and new out-of-the-box functionality. It also includes the integration of recently acquired DocStar for content management within the ERP.

Epicor sees embedded content management as a key strategy in offering added value to customers and points to ECM being an enabler of collaboration and efficiency. Using DocStar embedded into accounts payable processes, customers can digitize paper invoices to kick off electronic workflows to automatically route invoices through validation, matching against ERP data and final approval to import back into the ERP system.

New dedicated tenancy cloud option

As another option for organizations juggling with the decision between on-premises and cloud, this new version is available in a dedicated tenancy cloud deployment model in addition to multi-tenancy and single-tenancy deployment options. Available for North American customers now, the new dedicated cloud option offers each client its own database with shared application servers.

International financial and compliance capabilities

The latest version of Epicor ERP features expanded international financial applications and a new electronic compliance engine designed to ease complexity and improve visibility and controls. New functionality localized for specific geographic regions supports compliance and reporting, tax and payment processing, and international trade requirements.

New data analytics

Epicor ERP features new, industry-focused Epicor Data Analytics (EDA), which offers analytics integrated with Epicor ERP. A cloud data analytics solution, it can be accessed via desktop or any mobile device. And it offers out-of-the-box dashboards that are configurable, with the ability to “drill down” into supporting data for deeper insights. Modular, pre-built content packs for sales, financials, materials and production are also offered.

New tools for front- and back-end processes

The latest version of Epicor ERP features additions to its configure-to-order design function with a 2D Design Visualization Tool, enabling viewing of models and drawings, markup in 2D, and real-time collaboration on design documents over a network.

New resources for upgrades and support training

The release also incorporates new tools designed to accelerate the upgrade process for customers transitioning from on-premises implementations to cloud deployment models. Epicor Site Analyzer analyzes existing software environments to identify changes and configuration needs in advance of migration to provide a “know before you go” visual representation impact assessment. A new rapid data migration process enables data to be migrated to a cloud environment faster.

Epicor University offers a mix of education and training options for the latest release of Epicor ERP. New Epicor Learning Center training offerings—including a bunch of video courses on new ERP functionality and live virtual hands-on training sessions—help keep users up to speed.

Newest version of Prophet

Rebuilding a solution that has been around for decades is a big deal, but that is what Epicor has done with Prophet to drag it, kicking and screaming, into the modern ages. The distribution-specific ERP has been rebuilt using .NET and will now work within any browser. For this one, Epicor has thought about what an ecosystem needs and built in a range of APIs. It also has “plans” to offer a software development kit over time. Prophet also has a dedicated tenancy option.

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