ERP vendor Epicor has announced the latest version of its software. The announcement was made at Insights 2017 taking place in Nashville, Tennessee. The company has added a number of new features with the top two being new cloud-based analytics and a new cloud instances.
Scott Hays, senior vice president, product marketing, Epicor said: “With margins for products eroding, customer demands increasing, and an uncertain and somewhat unstable global economy, manufacturers need to use technology to increase their business agility, and enable strategic decision-making. Designed to support how people work, today and in the future, Epicor ERP helps businesses make the most of technologies such as the Internet of Things, big data and analytics, social collaboration, mobility and additive manufacturing.”
A new cloud-based option
Epicor has announced a new dedicated tenancy cloud option. This will sit alongside its existing single and multi-tenancy offerings. It will still be managed by Epicor but it is handing customers greater control over what goes on. Hays told Enterprise Times: “customers will share some infrastructure such as apps but they will get their own dedicated copy of the database.” This is designed to appeal to those customers in highly regulated environments such as Epicor’s defence and aerospace customers. Defence customers are required to adhere to ITAR (International Trade in Arms Regulations) and some were concerned about the perception of risk from a shared database.
Interestingly these customers will also get more flexibility about when the underlying platform updates. Customers using the multi-tenancy cloud solution get moved on Epicor’s schedule. The new dedicated cloud instance customers will get a 90 day window to revalidate any changes to the platform to ensure that it meets their compliance obligations.
One of the big challenges for Epicor is customer legacy. It currently has just 350 customers or around 2% of its installed base on it cloud-based solutions. The last year has been a huge investment by the company into cloud and it takes time to migrate customers. To help accelerate its customers move to cloud it has announced a new Site Analyzer.
For customers already on cloud it brings upgrades down to a couple of hours. For older customers on legacy systems it claims this will reduce migration to the cloud from 9 months to 4 months for most installations. With over 20,000 customers to be migrated to the cloud the success of Site Analyzer will be important.
Improving compliance and financial capabilities
Financial compliance is a major issue for many organisations. Epicor has moved to expand its support for regulatory compliance in several countries. It has added a new electronic compliance engine it claims will make tax and finance easier for customers working across multiple geographies. It will be interesting to see how this works out. International financial compliance is not easy. The various pieces of regulations in different territories conflict and often there is confusion over which is more important.
To counter this conflict, Epicor is giving customers the ability to choose what they want to comply with. This allows country units to ensure that they are in compliance locally. What is not clear is what customers get in terms of reconciling different country units to show where there could be risk factors.
One area where there is also work to be done is harmonising the compliance work with breach notification and incident reporting systems. It will be interesting to see how much of the compliance details around this Epicor has captured. If it can develop its own breach notification system, buy in a solution or do a deal with some partners to develop the right level of integration, that will be very interesting.
Another technology that seems to be missing for its financial and supply chain customers is blockchain. There has been no mention of it in the keynote yet Epicor is targeting companies who are running their own supply chains, especially manufacturers. It will be interesting to see what Epicor’s plans are in this area.
A boost to data analytics
Epicor has added a new cloud-based data analytics package which will be available to all their products. Called Epicor Data Analytics (EPA) it is targeted at end users rather than IT departments and data scientists. It sports a new User Experience (UX) with drag and drop functionality for users.
Importantly this is not just about supporting desktops. There is an app for Windows, Mac OS X and iOS. There was no mention of Android which is a big surprise given its increasing popularity inside enterprises. Users can build their data analytics queries in each app but there doesn’t appear to be any way to save them for use across different platforms. This is something that Epicor will need to address as customers will not want to be doing the same thing on multiple devices. It should stay within the user workspace.
This is a significant upgrade for Epicor. It is just starting out on its cloud journey across its customer base. So far it has around 2% of its customers running on cloud. This is a mix of its own managed cloud, AWS and Microsoft Azure. It will hope that the new features are enough to get customers on older versions of its software excited enough to push for immediate upgrade.