Welcome to the Epicor blog community, covering topics to inspire discussion where Epicor thought leaders, employees and partners alike can share insight across industries.
It’s a truism that technology is changing our world faster than most of us can hope to react to it. At Epicor Insights 2015, Malcolm Fox, VP Product Marketing for Epicor, explained not only how changes in technology are influencing the ERP industry, but also how Epicor is monitoring those changes on behalf of its customers, to become a technology partner which can help manufacturing businesses remain ahead of the curve.
Fox said, “Here in the heart of the first industrial revolution, we’re experiencing what major tech companies like Siemens are calling the fourth industrial revolution: the bringing together of a huge variety of data sources and computing power for interacting systems. In the big data world, ‘communities of machines will organise production lines and supply chains themselves’.”
Disruptive technologies are “coming at us from every angle,” says Fox. “Think of the global changes (and challenges) in energy; materials science developments like nanotubes, 3D printing, the mobile internet, the Internet of Things, or the economies of scale technologically afforded by cloud computing…”
All of us are impacted by at least a few of these trends. Most of us are affected by several; and it pays for CEOs to see the future. Fox gives the example of Kodak, which was not only a corporate giant which went into administration; but whose final blow was cruelly dealt by the likes of Instagram, a billion-dollar upstart with only thirteen employees. Says Fox, “Business leaders must embrace the use of data and analytics to anticipate disruption.”
And everyone can use data. Take “the connected cow”, not an urban myth but farming reality. Today’s dairy farmers – who need data-driven efficiencies in their dysfunctional marketplace more than most – are connecting their cows to the Cloud, to monitor the health of the animals, analyse milk yields, forecast livestock requirements, streamline distribution and offer data downstream to the rest of the supply chain. Daisy is the icon of a business being transformed through the judicious application of technology.
What does that mean for ERP? Well, in the words of Ventana Research, “In many respects today’s ERP systems are exactly what people don’t want anymore” Why? The problem is that traditional ERP was all about enforcing a process: driving efficiency through top-down management of concrete process implementation. But life is no longer like that. The smart money is on agility, evolution and responding to external triggers. Companies must evolve in response to competition and customer demand. Institutionalised processes are now a liability: the future is individualised, mobilised and responsive. Smart businesses respond to triggers at the bottom, on the shop floor or in the street. They spot and fill customer vacuums.
To achieve this whilst not sacrificing the underlying resilience and strength of ERP as a proposition, Fox says we can look to the world of apps for an answer. “Apps – whether on mobile or other platforms – give users the data they need without complexity and in interfaces they find engaging, whilst remaining connected to the full depth of underlying information.”
Similarly, widgets for reporting, social collaboration, exception management and remote admin (to take just a few examples) allow everyone to work with ERP data in bite-sized technological chunks and see immediate value. And for developers, this also makes sense: instead of Big-Bang releases, we can deliver a steady stream of incremental improvements. Disruption in the technology business is allowing Epicor to take advantage of tangible changes in the ERP landscape and deliver greater agility to clients.
The Epicor product strategy is therefore focused on helping clients resolve the challenges we all face:
- Drive innovation (digital-first, use the cloud, remain agile)
- Operate a fact-based business (data-driven, optimise business intelligence opportunities)
- Simplify the user experience (mobile support, user-centricity, social activation, apps)
You can expect Epicor to be progressively streamlined both behind the scenes and above the waterline. It has an ‘anywhere/any device’ ethos, consistent both in the cloud, on premise or anywhere in between. And as customers, an agile development cycle means incremental code releases for core Epicor products. It’s all about making more aspects of the product more usable in more situations, for more users, from Day One.
Posted by Epicor Insights Team
Info Security Products Guide
, the industry's leading information security research and advisory guide, has named the Epicor Data Security Review program a Bronze winner in the 2015 Global Excellence Awards in the New Products or Service
category. The security industry celebrated its 11th Annual 2015 Global Excellence Awards in San Francisco by honoring excellence in every facet of the industry including products, people behind the successes and best companies.
Epicor Data Security Review is a data protection service designed to help independent retailers -- leveraging the Epicor Eagle
retail business management solution -- mitigate the risk of a data breach through improved protection and management of business and customer data. The new service makes information and tools needed to pursue PCI compliance, customer data protection, and business data security available to retailers.
“Info Security Products Guide’s recognition of the Epicor Data Security Review program further validates our service as best-in-class in the industry,” said Mark Fair, vice president, customer services and support, retail distribution solutions for Epicor. “This industry honor is a great endorsement of the fact that Epicor can provide the appropriate steps to help safeguard business environments.”
More than 50 judges from a broad spectrum of industry voices from around the world participated in the judging of Finalists and Winners. Winners were announced during the awards dinner and presentation on April 20, 2015 in San Francisco, attended by the finalists, judges and industry peers.
Posted by Mark Fair, vice president, customer services and support, retail distribution solutions for Epicor
As a wholesale distributor, your business is subject to constant change. Therefore, the technology that helps your business run―and hopefully thrive―must be adaptable to keep you ahead of your competition, help achieve revenue growth, and drive customer retention. If you are a company in the distribution industry, this blog and our upcoming webinar will help you meet these challenges head-on with Epicor distribution software.
The Beginning Steps of ERP Evaluation
Core elements in Ultra’s process of helping its customers with ERP evaluation and selection include providing education on vendors, demonstrating their respective system functionality, and looking at the leadership they have provided in developing their ERP system as a solution for a particular industry. Before starting its ERP journey, a distribution business needs to know the vendors who are most capable of delivering a system that provides strong and intelligent integration, flexibility, and readily available information. For distributors with outdated ERP systems and/or disparate systems, there is a way to get a head start on an ERP project.
Three Common Challenges
On Monday, May 5, at 1PM CDT, Ultra Consultants and Epicor will conduct a one-hour webinar to present three common challenges wholesale distributors face in their day-to-day world, and demonstrate how Epicor distribution software can help solve these three challenges:
- How does a distributor know which items are trending down or up for each of their customers? Even more, which items are regular customers missing compared to their normal purchasing of these items?
- How does a distributor gain gross margin improvements on sales without risking the loss of key customers?
- How does a distributor ensure they have enough of the right items (and not too many of the wrong items) when determining an optimum level of stock inventory?
This event is the latest in Ultra’s Vendor Webinar offerings, where an ERP vendor demonstrates their knowledge of and solutions for specific issues facing today’s manufacturing and distribution organizations, from small businesses to global enterprises. The May 5 webinar will combine Ultra’s technical knowledge and distribution industry expertise with details and insight on how Epicor distribution software provides a foundation for success.
How to Attend the Webinar
If you are interested in attending this webinar, “Solving Three Key Challenges in the Distribution Industry,” visit Ultra’s registration page.
Justify Your ERP Investment
An excellent complement to this upcoming webinar is one of Ultra’s recent white papers, “Five Considerations When Justifying an Investment in ERP.” The paper demonstrates how critical it is to document the business reasons for an investment in ERP. You will also see the reasons for calculating the expected value to offset cost, and how identifying risk is part of the process, along with putting in plans to mitigate that risk. Download the paper to get the details on how midmarket distributors and manufacturers can drive an effective ERP justification process.
Posted by Robert Henry, Director of Marketing, Ultra Consultants
Telford’s International Conference Centre is the venue for the 2015 Annual Epicor Insights conference. It’s a chance for Epicor users, customers, employees and the ever-growing ecosystem (including a vibrant user group) to get together and find out what’s new.
And there’s plenty to cover. First, the business automation and business intelligence worlds have been electric in the past year, with big data and how to use it never far from the agenda of smart business owners. ERP has spread its influence across the supply chain, with companies finding efficiencies across their processes.
The news agenda has also put traceability and commercial compliance firmly back on the agenda. Everything from the horsemeat scandal to the popularity of Fairtrade and sustainability in the food chain mean that in the foodservice sector, ERP is a powerful driver.
In today’s show, Epicor Tropos, the specialist ERP system for process manufacturing that includes traceability features, will therefore be making a particularly big appearance. The workhorse Epicor ERP 10 will also get a thorough review with case studies and a roadmap for 2015/16. And for fans of getting your hands dirty, a newcomer to Epicor Insights is the LAB, a series of sessions devoted to sleeves-up configuration of your Epicor deployment.
Come back here for more updates throughout the day!
Posted by Epicor Insights Team
During the Insights 2015 keynote presentation, Epicor CEO Joe Cowan discussed his priorities. In his own words, “Last year I said, we’re reworking our processes around you. Here’s how we’re doing it.”
As a customer service obsessive, Joe’s instinct was to identify the top priorities for Epicor, so he regularly gains feedback from customers about our service levels. The feedback has been formulated into a set of three clear priorities:
- Making it easy to do business – both with Epicor and the end customer
- The quality of the product and service
- Demonstrable value
Says Joe, “Ease of business is the whole process, from the first time the customer engages. Through every touch point, you’re thinking: are we easy to do business with? You put yourself in the shoes of the customer, and you ask, is that how I’d want to be treated? We ask that, too.”
Cowan also unveiled a clear strategy for product quality. He says, “Our aim is to drive value for your business”, and quotes analysts Gartner*, who state that growth is the greatest priority for businesses today, particularly in the post-recession world. And Gartner say that growth comes from an alliance of technology, workforce/employees activation and relationships with customers.
Cowan therefore bases the Epicor quality strategy on six key pillars:
- Simplicity, ease of use – as all technology should be
- Visionary technology – allowing clients to remain ahead of the curve
- Globalisation and compliance – meeting customers’ needs as they expand
- Industry excellence – always aiming high
- Product enhancements – solving customer problems
- Expanded product portfolio – by development or acquisition
“Quality is built in at the beginning”, says Joe. “Today, we expect things to plug in and work straight away, and to keep on working. We know our customers demand that of us, because their customers demand that resilience of them.”
Posted by Epicor Insights Team
In our first post on manufacturing and enterprise resource planning (ERP), we covered the key findings presented by Kevin Prouty, senior vice president, research, at Boston, Massachusetts-based industry analyst Aberdeen Group, based on an Aberdeen survey of manufacturers. He reviewed key findings, figures showing how best-in-class manufacturers get more from ERP than average manufacturers, and how those using mobile ERP are getting better performance from their enterprise systems than those not using mobile capabilities. Today we conclude with what Prouty reports about manufacturers upgrading their ERP systems, as well as their use of cloud-based technology.
Results show that best-in-class manufacturers are much more likely to stay current with their ERP than average and laggard competitors:
Pouty cited four reasons that drive replacing ERP systems:
- Lack of support from ERP vendor (55 percent)
- Inability to tailor ERP to integrate changes to the business (42 percent)
- Lack of qualified resources to maintain and support current system (29 percent)
- Obsolete technology foundation or infrastructure of current ERP (24 percent)
Those who were reluctant to upgrade cited three reasons:
- Current release satisfies needs (45 percent)
- Lack of new features to build a solid business case (38 percent)
- Fear of disruption to the business (37 percent)
With the rise of cloud-based ERP usage, manufacturers were asked why they would choose a cloud-based system. Sixty-two percent indicated lower cost of ownership, 46 percent cited the ability to scale the solution, 39 percent indicated reducing the cost and effort of upgrades, and 38 percent cited configuration flexibility. Other factors noted included ease of use and seeking the best fit.
Leaders found it important that cloud-based ERP fits into a multi-tiered strategy; they were more than twice as likely to have implemented a multi-tiered ERP strategy featuring corporate standards along with second-tier ERP to support local business models.
The benefits of cloud-based ERP in terms of performance metrics were considerable:
Prouty concluded his presentation with five points and recommendations, based on the performance of industry leaders:
- Use as much of an ERP system as you can.
- ERPs don’t fail, organizations do.
- Extend ERP beyond the box it came in.
- Look at all implementation options.
- Strive to continuously improve.
The one thing not to do to keep competitive: nothing.
Posted by Manufacturing Insights Team
Old Ben Franklin, perhaps the quintessential American businessman, put it in his usual simple terms that, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”* These are essential aspects small business owners are aware of deep in their bones. By providing a comprehensive and affordable retail business management system for small to medium-sized businesses across a wide range of industries, Epicor® Eagle N Series™
helps those retailers cope with the paramount issue of growth.
This next-generation software has been designed to give independent retailers the power to operate more efficiently, make more appropriate business decisions to serve their customers better, and grow revenues and profits. Unlike “cash register only” point of sale (POS) systems, Eagle N Series provides the comprehensive functionality and advanced business intelligence to grow, add new partnerships, fully engage in co-op relationships, improve eCommerce capabilities, and accurately manage inventory. The key: the six facets of unprecedented retail power:
- Outservice. By facilitating exceptional customer service, Eagle N Series helps brings customers back time and time again.
- Analysis. Eagle N Series furnishes the insight needed to make better decisions by providing a clear understanding of how a business is doing, and how to enhance customer service and operations.
- Optimization. By enabling unprecedented visibility and cost control from the back office to point of sale, Eagle N Series helps drive effective optimization of business processes.
- Growth. Eagle N Series’ broad capabilities support growth throughout the organization, making these goals more easily attainable.
- Simplicity. By simplifying user experience, Eagle N Series helps make complex processes easier to execute.
- Mobility. In today’s increasingly mobile environment, Eagle N Series enables businesses to service their customers, stay informed, and make decisions from anywhere, anytime.
Designed to help businesses take advantage of proven retail processes and practices, Eagle N Series goes beyond helping businesses simply get the job done; instead, it helps them improve business results and outservice their competition by doing things the right way.
“As a business that just recently launched the new [Eagle N Series] solution, we can already see it improving the way we do business -- especially in our back office operations with access to real-time data and enhanced reporting features,” said Brad Hazelett, co-owner of Driftwood Garden Center
To see how Eagle N Series facilitates retail business growth, you can access a series of short videos detailing the solution here
Posted by Carl Hildebrandt, Senior Product Manager, Retail Distribution Solutions for Epicor
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
When I was a little girl I loved ballet, and I enjoyed every second of those 14 years. As I grew up I started to love writing. My favorite class was Creative Writing, and I’ll never forget how Miss Robin encouraged us to embrace our ideas and thoughts, always starting with a brainstorm.
I remember loving writing essays in high school. I helped everyone and because I loved writing them so much, I was good at it. My passion towards writing was reflected in every paper I delivered.
My passion for words and content drove me through my University years and it’s no wonder that I am proud to be part of the Epicor University department for a few years now. I love my job and I enjoy every part of it.
As technical writers, we have the opportunity to reach thousands of eyes, and during the journey, we learn priceless things, we meet new people, we work in teams, we discover new things, we find a thousand ways to explain one idea, and we have the chance to understand our customer’s needs, and do everything to deliver high quality work.
Every project is different, every application has specific needs, and every team performs different tasks. All the pieces come together in the end and the passion that each participant puts in their work makes a difference in the final outcome.
The way we work as a team is crucial. We work as a team among the writers, and we also work with different departments: Development, Support, Quality Assurance, Engineering, Sales, and Training. We are all pieces of the big puzzle.
I’ve been asked a few times if what we do isn’t “too boring” or “too monotonous“ and my immediate answer is always the same: “Absolutely not, I love it”. We are part of a huge company with big projects and the best applications. As a technical writer I always have new projects, different tasks, numerous teams I work with, and many people that help me along the way. Our job is far from being seated and writing non-stop. We create content, we learn, understand, and explain. We help people to easily understand and use a product, our words and work reach eyes that we will never imagine, and there is no greater feeling!
Posted by Victoria Garza, University Content Specialist
, senior vice president, research, at Boston, Massachusetts-based industry analyst Aberdeen Group
, recently gave a presentation on manufacturing and enterprise resource planning (ERP) based on an Aberdeen survey of manufacturers. Respondents were scored across selected performance criteria and companies were segmented into best-in-class (top 20 percent), industry average (middle 50 percent), and laggard (bottom 30 percent) categories.
Key findings of the research included:
- A lack of visibility and predictability is driving manufacturers today.
- ERP is the single most implemented enterprise application.
- ERP lays the foundations for standard business processes among manufacturers.
- ERP is a living system that is maintained, extended, and evolved after initial implementation.
- Best-in-class manufacturers are much more likely to have a multi-ERP or federated strategy than average or laggard organizations.
Respondents ranked the top pressures in manufacturing as unpredictable demand (41 percent), increased volume and complexity of data (40 percent), availability of skilled resources (35 percent), inability to collaborate across the extended enterprise (22 percent), and maintaining the security and stability of data (22 percent).
A comparison of best-in-class manufacturers with industry average manufacturers across performance metrics shows significant differences:
ERP is pervasive among manufacturers, with leaders indicating 97 percent adoption and followers 88 percent. The top five ERP extensions were CRM, warehouse management (beyond inventory management), standalone financial planning and budgeting, BI or analytical tools, and EDI translators. Across the board, industry leaders get more out of their ERP than followers; for example, seeing a 12 percent improvement in operational costs (versus 4 percent for followers), 39 percent improvement in inventory turns (versus 18 percent), and 20 percent improvement in stock-to-sales ratios (versus 7 percent).
An important finding of the study documented the benefits of mobile ERP:
These compelling figures point to why manufacturers are increasingly demanding mobile ERP capabilities.
In Part Two of this post, we’ll look at what the Aberdeen study said about upgrading ERP and the use of cloud-based ERP. Stay tuned.
Posted by Manufacturing Insights Team