Epicor ERP Software
Mining and the Internet of Things? You bet.
When you think of industries leveraging digital technology, you usually think of electronics, finance, retail, or telecommunications. I bet you don't think of mining. Well, think again.
 
In a post on techvibes.com, industry analyst Kelley Prowse asserts that big data analytics, the Internet of Things, and automation and control technology are starting to be commercially harnessed by the mining industry in a big way. According to Prowse, while the technologies are developing faster than mines can adopt them, deployments are showing huge potential for miners and the technology industry.
 
According to market projections, total spending on information and communication technologies in the mining sector is forecast to reach $26.1 billion by 2018. What does this investment look like in the mining industry? Prowse paints a picture:
Few do "toys" quite like the mining industry … giant trucks on programmed and responsive routes haul ore autonomously, drones monitor and measure surface operations, and equipment is located, scheduled, and monitored with adaptive feedback loops to maximize production. Autonomous drill rigs and trains are already being trialed.
 
On the miniature end of the scale there are sensors and transmitters for a plethora of variables. Single sensors can measure machinery operating and environmental variables, while integrated networks of sensors can forecast maintenance requirements, prevent accidents, optimize processes, and monitor environmental compliance. Thanks to their Internet connectivity, it is also possible cover vast distances.
Momentum in the industry is building, with hardware moving towards open standards to maximize the flexibility and interoperability of equipment. But service—including systems integration as well as tailoring data analysis and outputs—is likely to join hardware as a significant technology investment in the mining sector.
 
At this point, a small number of very large mining companies have taken the lead in adopting technology to mining operations; the industry as whole will look to these early adopters for best practices as they come on board.
 
Posted by Technology Insights Team
Epicor User Group 4000th Member Milestone and Global Expansion

Recently the Epicor Users Group (EUG) reached a new milestone by having our 4000th member contact sign-up for the group. 

The EUG is a completely independent group of users helping users of Epicor software products. It’s a non-profit organization comprised of a volunteer board, product liaisons that act as a bridge between Epicor and Epicor users, and more than 30 regional groups worldwide. The group formed in February 1995 as the Data Works Users Alliance, then changed the name to Epicor Users Group in March 2000. 

As Epicor expanded worldwide, so did the user base.  We merged EUG with groups from the UK and EMEA, and since have gone further to add groups from Australia and Sweden. Along with our continued partnership with Epicor, we are hoping to reach even more users through our forums, regional user group meetings, special interest groups, discount training and other offerings.

Momentum highlights:

  1. Membership has grown by over 50% in the last three years and increasing fast.
     • 1,095 new users added in 2014
     • Over 9,000 forum posts
  2. 3,200 EUG members in the US.
  3. 1400+ EUG members in over 40 countries from afar as Fiji to Tanzania.
  4. EUG represents 21 different Epicor products from Avante to ERP.
  5. Introduced the new Premier Partner membership to help Epicor partners engage with members.
  6. EUG holds many events each year including regional meetings, webcasts to the major Insights events around the world and looking to coordinate product specific conferences.

Throughout our nearly two decades in existence, we have worked to accomplish our core mission of “users helping users”. The main focus is education as we are a multi-product user group and support the whole range of products offered from Epicor. However, we also provide the opportunity for help and insight from other users, which is just as important, and the fact that it’s wholly independent is critical.

In a time where global collaboration is increasingly a part of doing business, it’s exciting to see this among users in a group like ours. Our goal is to sign-up our 5000th users before we close out our 20th year. 

To learn more about the Epicor Users Group, view video below from the Insights conference and visit www.epicorusers.org.

Posted by Bill Wolfe, Vice President, Epicor Users Group (EUG)

[[blogvideo:http://www.youtube.com/v/GKRnqbdaEiw]]

Why You Need an Agile ERP System: Part One
Five pillars of change are dominating discussions about today’s technology:
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Cloud
  • Big data
  • Video/unified communications

“Mobile” is about the interface—how quickly we can access computing power. Today we have more computing power in our smartphones that what was used to send the first man to the moon. “Social” is the network and who is engaged. Social transcends personal and work, and today genuine value resides in this network. The “cloud” is the information store and innovation platform. “Big data” is the brains and intelligence resident in the information, be it structured or unstructured. Finally, “video and unified communications” are how we share, interact, and collaborate with each other across all senses.

While these five forces are interesting on their own, digital business disruption is happening at their convergence: social and big data, mobile and cloud, video and mobile. It’s this convergence that is creating tremendous market disruption.
In the midst of this technological advance, market change is accelerating.

In light of these forces, where is your company today? Where will it be in five years? Consider this: in 2010, Blackberry had a 45 percent market share, Apple 25 percent, Microsoft 15 percent, Android 7 percent, and Palm 5.7 percent. Today, Blackberry has a 1.5 percent share. The pace of change has never been so intense. Since 2000, 52 percent of the Fortune 500 has been merged, acquired, or gone bankrupt.

Four massive trends are driving this change:
  • Macro trends
  • An increasingly dynamic work force
  • Disruptive technology adoption
  • New digital business models
The first of these trends cannot be controlled by organizations: natural disasters, political unrest, and economic recessions are effectively beyond their scope of influence. But the other three can be planned for, and need to be accommodated by today’s agile enterprise resource planning (ERP).
 
Dynamic Work Force
In addition to where we work, when we work, what we work on, and how we work, even the notion of why we work has changed. All this is impacting ERP development. While most analysts discuss the changing work force in generational terms (e.g., millennials, generation X, generation Y, baby boomers, post war), Constellation Research segmented the workforce in terms of digital proficiency, a more useful structure in light of the fact that the environment everyone is competing in is digitally driven:
  • Digital natives: those who grew up with the Internet and are comfortable in engaging in all digital channels.
  • Digital immigrants: those who have crossed over into the digital world, forced into engagement in digital channels.
  • Digital voyeurs: those who recognize the shift to digital, but observe it from a distance.
  • Digital holdouts: those who resist the shift to digital, and ignore or deny its impact.
  • Digital disengaged: those who give up on digital participation.
Disruptive Technologies
The disruptive technologies that impact the enterprise have come from the consumerization of IT, and ERP must be agile enough to accommodate—and take advantage of—their impact in the workplace. The cloud is the innovation platform for these technologies, and ERP must leverage it to user benefit. Social and mobile technologies are driving huge amounts of data to mine for context, something that must be leveraged to discover opportunities, minimize risk, and provide more precise information in real time. What is needed is information that can be used to empower better decision-making at all levels of the enterprise. Information has moved beyond the stuff of records to a vital force that senses, responds to, and communicates with people and machines.
 
Digital Business Models
Consider how business models have evolved in the digital age:
  • Product companies give away product for service revenues.
  • Service-based businesses sell experiences at varying price points and service levels.
  • Experience-based businesses sell business models.
  • Business model companies sell peace of mind.
With the emergence of digital business models, the pace of innovation has accelerated dramatically. Take Sony, for example. In 1983, they introduced the Walkman—a transformational product. It changed the game in music, and Sony hasn’t had a transformational product since. In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod. It wasn’t the best music player, but it was transformational because it changed the music industry at the height of piracy. They convinced people to spend 99¢ on a song instead of pirating it. It saved the music industry in the age of Napster.
 
The iPhone is also innovative, but not because it’s a smartphone. This one device has destroyed 27 business models. These are jobs, companies, and capital never to be replaced. Do you need a flashlight? Do you need a digital camera? Do you develop your pictures at a one-hour photo store? Do you need a GPS device? Do you carry a portable video unit? Do you buy music? Where do you buy books? This is transformational innovation.
Sony wanted to be Apple. Apple became Sony. Now Samsung wants to be Apple. Apple puts out one new phone a year. Samsung puts out a new phone every 40 days. The pace of change is accelerating and transformational.
Can your ERP adapt to this type of transformational change? It will have to be agile to do so.
Part Two of this post will detail what users want, and what agile ERP needs to be. Stay tuned.
 
Posted by the Epicor ERP Insights Team
ERP and Mobile, Social, and Cloud – Breaking Down the Findings of our New Global Research

What are today’s biggest ERP deficiencies?  What are the most sought-after next-gen ERP features and functionality? And how are organizations around the globe leveraging cloud, mobile, and social collaboration to enhance business performance and responsiveness? The answers to these questions are revealed in our latest global research, which surveyed more than 1,500 business professionals in 10 countries.

For those of you who like the Readers Digest treatment, allow me to break it down for you as to our key takeaways: 

Survey results show a high percentage of ERP adoption but no raving fans. Most characterized the utility of their ERP as merely “adequate” or “basic”. This just shows that ERP is not helping companies drive value and growth, and/or interact with customers and employees in the way they’d like.

It takes too long and it’s too difficult to get info survey respondents need. This is an issue that has plagued the enterprise apps business for a long time, and a fact that reinforces that our recent investments in Epicor ERP 10 around ease of use and customer experience are very much on track with market needs.

The survey data shows cloud is becoming more accepted – not just for point solutions, but that organizations have now comfortable with the speed, benefits, SLAs and security aspects around cloud for running all or part (hybrid model) of their mission critical enterprise applications. We feel that many organizations will find a hybrid model to be the best solution to meet their needs (to meet regulatory requirements, multiplant, etc.) and so the flexibility for both on-premises and cloud deployment options and the ability to seamlessly interact across these environments will be key going forward.

On the whole are bullish on ERP capabilities including mobile, social and cloud, believing they offer new and exciting opportunities for improved organizational responsiveness. Mobile, social and cloud are changing business as we know it, and the gap between leaders and laggards will continue to widen.

Over the past few years, Epicor has re-architected our user interfaces to move away from the traditional data entry model. We believe data entry is a last resort on how information should be put into the system. Today information is being broadcast by machines, devices and people; our approach has been to intercept that information so it can be parsed and disseminated quickly and seamlessly throughout the organization.

Organizations know they need next-gen ERP capabilities, but many are fearful of the time, money and effort to have to replace your ERP system. The good news is much has changed in the past few years to improve ease of deployment and make ERP replatforming less daunting.

Many organizations have ERP systems that are 10 to 20 years old, which to learn and use required a lot of training. This is contrary to the way systems are used today by the current generation of users. The addition of things such as social and search serves to dramatically reduce the learning curve. SaaS has helped a great deal – often hardware investment is seen as a big barrier, as is the resources and skill sets needed to manage the infrastructure. SaaS removes these barriers.

By this time next year I predict that we won’t be talking about mobile, social and cloud as “next-gen” methods to extend the value of ERP. So what will we be talking about – what’s next?

I think we’ll be talking about connectivity and collaboration – specifically regarding social systems and machine-to-machine interfaces. We’ll be talking about using Big Data and analytics to move into more predictive realms. The manufacturing and distribution sectors, in particular, have a huge amount of information to unlock.

Posted by John Hiraoka, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Epicor

Cast Your Vote for MGM Resorts in the 2014 Constellation Research SuperNova Awards
Congratulations to Steve Schnur, director of merchandise planning and analytics at MGM Resorts International, who was recently nominated as a finalist in the 2014 Constellation Research Supernova Awards. The polls are now open, you can vote for MGM here.
 
The fourth annual SuperNova Awards program celebrates and recognizes individuals who have overcome the odds to successfully applying emerging and disruptive technologies within their organizations. 
 
Success of MGM’s Business
MGM has unusual retail challenges that heighten the importance of large quality data sets and analysis tools. For example, normal retail forecasts forward demand with just two components -- trend and seasonality -- while MGM has many other added layers of complexity.
 
MGM wanted to incorporate business intelligence (BI) for decision-support to put the tremendous wealth of its data to optimal use to speed of issue and opportunity identification, for more timely resolution and action, to drive overall improved business performance and responsiveness. MGM had an existing relationship with Epicor Software, and had leveraged Epicor Retail solutions for Store (POS), Merchandising, and Sales Audit successfully in the past. Working with Epicor, MGM incorporated the Epicor Retail Business Intelligence solution into its daily operations for greater control over the volume and velocity of data, and for distillation of valuable insights for improved decision-making.
 
Results:
  • BI is now used routinely by nearly 100% of MGM’s staff, including 150+ personnel at or above the assistant manager level
  • MGM empowers users with self-service access to the reports most relevant to their roles and responsibilities
  • Data made available by BI is used to shape business decisions and improve outcomes
  • MGM now identifies performance issues and opportunities faster and at a more granular level
  • BI solution is configured to automatically generate 350+ reports on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis
  • MGM cut its data collection and reporting labor requirements in half -- before 80% of effort was spent collecting/cleaning data, and 20% using it; now this equation has been flipped
  • Now more time can be spent applying the lessons learned from data to run and build the business

Read MGM’s full SuperNova Award profile here.

The voting period is now open and ends Tuesday, September 30, 2014. Cast your vote now by visiting MGM’s project profile here:

 
Winners will be revealed during the SuperNova Award Gala Dinner on October 29, 2014 at Constellation’s Connected Enterprise innovation summit located at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay in Half Moon Bay, California.
 
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
Epicor Growth and Success Highlighted in Annual Software 500 Ranking
Epicor has been listed as one of the world’s largest software companies in Software Magazine’s Software 500 ranking, now in its 32nd year. The Software 500 is a revenue-based ranking of software and services providers, and suppliers, targeting medium to large enterprises, IT professionals, software developers, and business managers involved in software and services purchasing.
 
The Software 500 ranked Epicor at 103 based on total software and services revenue of $896.1 million and a growth rate of 12.44 percent.
 
“The Software 500 helps CIOs, senior IT managers, and IT staff research and create the short list of business partners,” says John P. Desmond, editor for Software Magazine. “It is a quick reference of vendor viability. And the online version is searchable by category, making it what we call the online catalog to enterprise software.”
 
The Software 500 ranking is based on total worldwide software and services revenue from the 2013 fiscal year. This includes revenue from software licenses, maintenance and support, training, and software-related services, and consulting. Suppliers are not ranked on total corporate revenue, since many have other lines of business, such as hardware. Financial information is gathered by a survey prepared by Rockport Custom Publishing, LLC using public documents and company input. It is published in print as well as posted online at www.softwaremag.com as both a digital edition and searchable database.
 
“We are honored to be recognized in the 2014 Software 500 ranking,” said Kathy Crusco, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Epicor. “Our position in this prestigious list is a testament to our commitment to providing a new approach to enterprise resource planning and business management solutions and services -- empowering Epicor customers to succeed in operational excellence.”
 
The 2014 Software 500 list will be released in the October issue of Software Magazine, as both a print and the digital publication, which is distributed on October 8, 2014. 
 
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
The Need for Adaptive ERP
From their inception, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have been deployed with an overarching purpose: reduce costs by managing processes and materials. Until the middle 1980s, enterprise systems were built for narrowly defined business needs such as order management, account payables, and inventory control. The first real ERP systems integrated the data and processes once handled by individual programs into a single system capable of managing almost every aspect of running a sizable business. They transformed how modern businesses work.
 
The principal benefit of a consolidated ERP strategy was ensuring that data wasn’t duplicated across departments, eliminating “islands of information.” Processes once separated could now be linked, enabling enterprise-wide planning and optimization. For years, the focus of ERP was top-down implementation of this strategy: the imposition of processes and measurements from an executive perspective. As the marketplace has evolved into a global competition, where facilities, suppliers, and partners are dispersed geographically and supply and demand signals occur over increasingly complex and nuanced value networks, the top-down orientation of traditional ERP is proving to be less than adequate on its own.
 
In this new business environment, change and innovation are accelerating; risk and opportunity are dynamic elements across networks, and business practices and processes are evolving at a pace heretofore unimagined. Response to this changed competitive landscape demands that ERP not only support the executive agenda but also the needs of individuals, regardless of where they are in an organization’s value network. Only then can companies mobilize quickly and respond effectively to events as they occur at breakneck speed, whether in Singapore, Stuttgart, or the Silicon Valley. So ERP has had to evolve into adaptive ERP.
 
Why Adaptive ERP Is Important
In a global marketplace where speed, change, and the demand for innovation are accelerating challenges, the expectations of ERP have changed. ERP is no longer simply about cutting costs, but rather about enabling businesses to grow and take advantage of new opportunities (and avoid unexpected risks) as they emerge. Competition may come from anywhere, often from unfamiliar players; disruptive technologies (e.g., additive manufacturing, social networks) may also change the game radically in a short time. Companies now need ERP systems that can adapt to unique and dynamic business environments, drive growth, and control costs.
 
A large part of business innovation is trying new things with less risk, modeling ideas and outcomes, or simply changing how people work with information. Today, ERP systems have to be approachable by all employees, changeable to waste less time, and readily integrated with other systems. To put it bluntly, ERP needs to adapt at the same speed as business—or get out of the way.
 
Epicor ERP version 10: Designed to Support Adaptive ERP
A principal way Epicor ERP version 10 helps meet these challenges is through flexibility. Processes can be defined and changed easily, and the system can be deployed as a single instance or in loosely coupled peer instances, on-premises or in the cloud. The solution has been designed with the knowledge that a company’s ability to innovate is at least partly coupled to business process strategy; specifically, agility is realized when processes are easily and inexpensively changed.
 
A recently issued white paper details the new functionality in ERP 10 that enables genuinely adaptive ERP. You can access it here.
 
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
The Nexus of Forces Works Its Way Into the Enterprise

According to technology research firm Gartner, "Four independent forces—social, mobile, cloud and information—have converged as a result of human behavior, creating a technology-immersed environment. The Nexus of Forces (NOF) is transforming the way people and businesses relate to technology. It also leads to upheaval and change, which bring opportunities for business strategists to transform business processes and industries based on a renewed consumer focus.”

Business transformation is about developing new capabilities and when necessary, moving away from business models that are no longer competitive is the goal. The capability to transform when needed—or when better business outcomes can be achieved—is essential for survival in today’s dynamic and rapidly evolving economy. To enable this, organizations must align strategy decisions and business systems to help drive execution and support sustained long-term, continuous transformation.

So, how can NOF impact your business? View this Gartner report that presents key findings, such as:

  • Demand for IT solutions that support NOF scenarios is increasing.
  • The NOF is being embraced both strategically and tactically by most industries, whether they have "customers" or not.
  • However, the most progressive NOF solutions are those that involve customer engagement.

Gartner, “The Nexus of Forces Works Its Way Into the Enterprise,” Chris Howard, Daryl C. Plummer September 8, 2013

Posted by Epicor Social Media Team

The Manifold Productivity of ERP

A post on TechAdvisory.org points to the advantages of enterprise resource planning (ERP) for small and mid-sized businesses considering the technology for the first time; however, its list of how ERP supports today’s business requirements in terms or productivity and profitability extends to enterprises of all sizes. They cite 10 top requirements for today’s businesses and how ERP helps meet them:

  1. The need to make decisions fast. ERP delivers reports and dashboards that combine data from every department to managers no matter where they are.
  2. The need for highly productive employees. ERP automates most of the manual processes that takes workers away from more valuable labor.
  3. The need for great customer service. It’s never been easier for customers to find a new supplier. ERP connects information across the organization so that you can answer your customer’s questions quickly and accurately, every time.
  4. The need to support multiple distribution channels. To expand market reach, Internet, channel, and direct distribution need to be supported. ERP connects all systems across supply networks to improve market performance in all market channels.
  5. The need to accurately match costs with income sources. When you execute work, you need to know whether you are really making a profit on it. ERP tracks all costs related to projects or jobs to ensure profitable engagements.
  6. The need to support remote employees. Employees need to be productive wherever their work is. ERP systems allow remote workers to access and enter information where they are, when they want to—increasingly on the mobile devices they choose to use.
  7. The need to manage industry-specific requirements. Every business is unique; business systems generally aren’t. With ERP, you can build workflows and reports that specifically address the specialized requirements of your industry.
  8. The need to simplify compliance. Meeting the reporting requirements of increasingly stringent regulations can take a huge manual effort. Instead of spending weeks and months on manual documentation, ERP’s automated functionality speeds and simplifies compliance while allowing your human capital to focus on more productive and value-added tasks.
  9. The need to support global commerce. Increasingly, business crosses international markets. ERP eases complicated currency translation and supports staffing overseas by providing accurate information without undue latency (essential for efficient operation of dispersed business networks).
  10. The need to attract young workers. The aging workforce places a premium on attracting young talent. A generation that has only known the digital age has little patience for tasks they know can be simplified with technology; to this group, the technological prowess of ERP not only makes intuitive sense, it reinforces their belief in the company’s commitment to stay current with technology—something they see as highly important.

When ERP matches your business, the best practices that are part of the system can be used to automate the flow of information in the business. The key is finding an ERP that is a good fit—the general flow of the system needs to match your business practices. When this happens, many good things follow, including greater productivity and higher profitability.

Posted by By Christine Hansen, Manager, Product Marketing

The Implementation of Technology and Culture Change

One of the by-products of implementing technologies that connect the top and shop floor is the influences on the enterprise culture. In a post on his blog, Irving Wladawsky-Berger discusses the organizational challenges of embracing disruptive technologies. (Wladawsky-Berger, who worked for IBM for 37 years before retiring, is visiting lecturer at MIT's Sloan School of Management and Engineering Systems Division, executive-in-residence at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, senior fellow at the Levin Institute of the State University of New York, and adjunct professor in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the Imperial College Business School.) The key points he makes regarding technology and organizational culture are worth revisiting:

  • The need for a clear, compelling strategy that the whole organization can rally around.
  • The management of innovation initiatives
  • The importance of top-down leadership and support

The first point speaks to the fact that technology not only impacts markets and operations, but also individuals and groups within an organization. In general, change is often painful as well as positive, and this is no different with technological change. It’s important that an organization be given a target to shoot for, “a kind of promised land everyone can aim for instead of wandering in the desert without a clear path forward.”

The next point underscores a subtle conundrum organizations face: the management skills leveraged for sustaining success systematically are often at odds with those that incorporate the growth resulting from the disruptive technologies. “In particular, managers have to make the transition from managing in the present to managing both the present and future—that is, they have to be good at both operations and strategy. Easier said than done.” The delicate balance here: managing for near-term results at the same time one manages for ongoing relevance and competitive standing in the future.

Finally, top-down leadership and support are essential in overcoming the resistance of individuals or groups to new technologies that are changing the way they work and jostling their comfort zones. “Visible top-management support is very helpful in tempering sibling rivalries and getting everyone to work together as part of one company-wide team.”

This discussion calls to mind a comment of another great thinker, Isaac Asimov: “It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” This is true for truly disruptive technologies such as the Internet, as well as the residual technology changes that follow in their wake. Basically, technological change begets cultural change; organizations that understand this are more likely to implement change successfully.

Posted by Epicor Social Media Team

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