1. Epicor reinvigorates its ERP offerings
Historically, ERP software has been uninteresting and stodgy, the playground of a few dominant on-
premise players. Today, a variety of innovative vendors have taken hold in this market, pushing ERP
into the cloud while attempting to pull business away from large companies like SAP and Oracle.
Some examples among many:
FinancialForceÂ announced a $50 million investment to focus specifically on ERP
NetSuiteÂ revenue continues to grow, with projected 2014 revenues hitting nearly $550m
InforÂ has staked a claim to design as a significant competitive differentiator
WorkdayÂ continues to develop its business around financials, as part of a long-term plan to pull
business from SAP and Oracle
MicrosoftÂ is pushing further into the cloud with its flagship Dynamics AX ERP software
Then, there isÂ Epicor, a company with nearly $1 billion in revenue that serves mid-market ERP
customers. I attended Epicor's user conference, calledÂ Insights 2014, and had the chance to talk
with senior executives, customers, and partners.
Epicor is a business in transition. In a meeting with Epicor's new CEO,Â Joe CowanÂ (PDF
download), and CMO,Â John Hiraoka, it became clear the company's current strategy is an attempt
to bring together the organization around shared and well-defined objectives. Cowan explained that,
historically, the Epicor sales team was opportunistic, seeking sales even when it forced the company
to invest in software development independent of the product roadmap. This approach created silos
between marketing and development, drove inefficiencies, and impeded the company's ability to
To overcome these past issues, Epicor has aligned resources and plans across all parts of the
organization. As Cowan and Hiraoka said, they are now "rationalizing the pieces" around a central
goal and strategic plan.
At the conference, Epicor demonstrated the results of this new coordinated strategy and presented
key building blocks for the future. These components include:
Simplified software architecture and platform. The new platform, based on .NET technology from
Microsoft, significantly reduces the complexity associated with developing and maintaining the
product. For example, the following image shows that Epicor 10 (the new version) requires only one
build (product variant) compared with 11 in the prior version:
2. The new, simplified platform has allowed Epicor to streamline internal development and testing
processes, while focusing labor on innovation rather than low-value tasks. While this may seem like
an arcane technical point, it has important beneficial implications in areas such as quality assurance,
technical support, and implementation. In summary, the new platform streamlines a host of
downstream activities that directly affect customers in a positive way.
Cloud strategy.Â Going forward, Erik Johnson, Epicor's Vice President of Technical Strategy, told me
the company is maintaining "one code line" for on-premise and cloud development. Developing a
single product that works in both the cloud and on-premise environments allows Epicor to apply
resources efficiently while giving customers choice of deployment method. Johnson summarized,
saying, with the new platform, "Every dollar spent on on-premise benefits the cloud product and
Services strategy.Â Enterprise customers need service and support through the entire software
lifecycle, from pre-sales through implementation and after the go-live point. To oversee ERP for the
Americas, which includes services, Epicor brought on industry veteran Donna Troy. I spoke with
Troy last November, who explained her belief in the importance of a milestone-driven methodology
combined with a strong program of change management. During that conversation, I strongly
agreed with her perspective. This graphic shows the latest implementation process:
Fast forward to today, Epicor has revamped its implementation process and is working with partners
to ensure they are capable of servicing customers properly. For example, Epicor created a
certification program for the new ERP 10 product; the company now requires both Epicor employees
and external partners to participate. I spoke with one long-time Epicor customer who said customer
support has improved, relative to what the company offered in the past.
3. Epicor ERP 10.Â Epicor's new ERP product offers features such as social collaboration, e-commerce,
and flexible deployment (cloud and on-premise). It also substantially increases performance
compared to previous versions. Here is a diagram of the components:
Epicor retailÂ represents the company's effort to create a next generation platform for retail
customers. The retail sector is important to Epicor and the platform vision will bring together a
broad collection of products designed to help retailers manage their business from supply chain to
customer engagement. Here is the architecture diagram:
In summary, Epicor is getting its house in order, with coherent business and platform strategies.
Analyst,Â Ray Wang, comments:
These data points give Constellation renewed confidence to add Epicor ERP version 10 back into
short lists. Meanwhile, Epicor's Retail solutions have continued to deliver significant benefits for
customers and should be considered in most vendor selection efforts.
On the retail side, analystÂ Paula RosenblumÂ notes:
This conference marked an important milestone in the company's renewed focus on retail,
highlighted in the Retail Insights portion of the conference.
4. For the next steps, Epicor will enhance its applications, taking advantage of the new platform. That
will be the job of Epicor's new Chief Product Officer,Â Janie West, who told me she has worked with
CEO Cowan for years.Â Altogether, the ERP market is becoming increasingly vibrant and we look
forward to watching Epicor going forward.
Disclosure: Epicor paid some of my travel expenses to its conference.
(Cross-posted @ ZDNet | Beyond IT Failure Blog)