Epicor has announced the availability of its Epicor Data Analytics (EDA) solution for Epicor Prophet 21. This appears to be the first cloud integration for the EDA solution. The distribution industry customers benefiting first from the integration of the new analytics solution.
A first for margin focused distribution
The distribution industry is constantly aiming to drive costs down. More effective use of vehicle’s, warehouses and staff help to drive those costs down and maintain margins. Epicor is targeting EDA at those customers already using Prophet 21 to further improve efficiencies and decision making.
So why are companies turn to analytics solutions to help with data driven decisions? Epicor state that according to Forrester Research: “more than 70% of decision-makers report planned or current initiatives to encourage more data-driven decisions”. In fact an academic study in 2011 by Brynjolfsson, Hitt and Kim concluded that firms using data driven decision making increased productivity and output by 5-6%.
Doug Smith, director of product marketing, retail and distribution, Epicor commented: “Epicor Prophet 21 is a proven success for distributors of all sizes, supporting growth through rapid implementation and easy expansion regardless of supply chain size. Our newest cloud solution, Epicor Data Analytics, is a powerful, easy-to-learn tool that allows distributors to discover new business insights and increase productivity with Prophet 21 to help transform and grow their business.”
Epicor has chosen to integrated EDA fully with Prophet 21. They have delivered this in six packages, each of which has specific functionality. The six are:
Sales: The dashboard exposes to commonly asked questions such as average sales and gross margin by invoice line. It identified trends such as whether sales in specific lines are increasing or decreasing. Over time it would show whether that is seasonal fluctuation or an overall trend.
Inventory: The dashboard provides instant access to information that is important to the business. What is the current value of the inventory, where are potential shortfalls and in which locations? Data exposed includes insights into the quantity on hand, value, cost, back ordered, on PO and in transit.
Purchasing This dashboard is useful for purchasing managers to quickly analyse the performance of vendors. Who delivers late? How close to rebate volumes for each stock item and vendor and vendor are they? Typical values analysed include quantity ordered, value ordered, quantity received, value received, quantity open and value open.
Accounts receivable: For credit controllers and managers this provides insights on customer payment history. The solution helps to identify future cash flow issues, matching customer pay cycles with future projections. No longer do aged debtors reports need running so frequently, controllers can quickly analyse which companies need chasing and where issues may lie. Data values exposed include amount, paid, terms taken, allowed, memo amount, bad debt amount and amount receivable.
Accounts payable: This package helps users to identify performance on payments. Were any discounts taken advantage of? Which invoices are due for payment? Which ones will leverage a discount if paid early?
General ledger: This delivers the insights that board members have wanted for a while. It includes the ability to drill down into the business into the income statement and balance sheet. The dashboard provides the ability to compare and contrast previous years figures and also against budgets and targets.
Without an in depth study of the capability of the new EDA product this feel like a first generation analytics program. It is delivering report in dashboards to mobile devices from the cloud. This takes reporting to the next level of analytics. It also delivers trends, and simple insights. There is no doubt more to come from Epicor though. In the future the solution should deliver actionable insights and actually allow the user to pay the invoice that is flagged.
There are some gaps in the coverage of the analytics. Prophet 21 includes service and warehouse modules that do not seem to appear on the list of packages. It is possible that inventory may also cover warehousing but this is unclear. There will also be questions from other Epicor cloud users such as those with Epicor Bistrack, Epicor ERP and Epicor Eagle N, asking when their integrated analytics solution is ready for them.
This announcement sees Epicor delivering an interesting add on to their Prophet 21 distribution ERP solution. Customers will readily take advantage of the dashboards and the insights they deliver out of the box. PJ Glauber, chief operating officer, Glauber Equipment Corporation commented: “We are excited about the features available in the EDA for Prophet 21 solution. The ad hoc data mining capability, for instance, will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of our business and position us for growth.”
The future is more exciting. This is the first step for Epicor with EDA. There are some unanswered questions. How quickly will the solution is integrated with their other cloud ERP products. When will Epicor start talking about predictive analytics, and even prescriptive analytics as part of this story. Competitors such as NetSuite and Infor are already ahead of them on that track.
Epicor did not release pricing for the new solution, but it is now generally available.