Technology, the millennial workforce, and high percentage of small and medium businesses, are the principal drivers for the transformation happening to ERP applications across Africa and Middle East. For the new workforce, a combination of social, mobile, cloud is the new normal, and they expect the same experience to extend into the workplace and with coworkers.
Epicor is taking traditional ERP that used to exist within the four walls of an organisation, and is using various tools and technologies, to extend it outside the same four walls of the organisation. Another key requirement is to be able to extend the new cloud based ERP into suppliers, customers, and employees outside the organisation.
Even within the supply chain business process, Epicor’s core area of expertise, there is an industry expectation to move beyond just-in-time manufacturing to real-time manufacturing. This requires much higher levels of integration and collaboration leading to improved demand forecasting.
Cloud based applications bring with them certain key benefits. They are easier to integrate and interoperate amongst each other. Another key advantage is once set up by the vendor they do not need to be managed by the customer. Are ERP applications inherently not suited for the cloud? Sabby Gill, Executive Vice President, Epicor International, likens ERP on the cloud with e-commerce applications that require a mix of cloud based technologies and manual intervention to complete the end to end business process.
“We do not see that to be any different from the way cloud applications are deployed,” Gill points out, equating ERP on the cloud to any other cloud based enterprise application. Epicor ERP is today integrated with Salesforce.com and other cloud based ERPs and extended applications. “Cloud makes it a lot easier than would be if it were on premise.”
In order to prepare for opportunities around its cloud based ERP solutions, Epicor has restructured itself internally. It has adopted a dual-pronged approach in its local organisations across Africa and Middle East region. Internally it has created partner account managers and customer account managers. The partner account manager is responsible for end to end relationships with channel partners. They are advocates for channel partners within Epicor.
The customer account managers on the other hand is responsible for the full spectrum of the end customer relationship. This covers the original sale, through to implementation, through to continued support and any other issues that come up. “That whole structure is really the two-pronged approach and probably more relevant for this region than anywhere else,” explains Gill.
Externally channel partners fill a void for Epicor that it can never fill. “We are never going to be able to have half the relationships that those partners have.” Epicor is therefore investing in improving the skills of its channel partners and its support to enable them to go to market with cloud based solutions, on-premises solutions, or any others.
“It is great to have cloud deployable products but what happens if you ever decide not to and you want to pull back. You need that ability to be able to take cloud based applications and move them on premise. So to us, it is choice at the end of the day from a customer perspective,” he explains.
With mainstream and startup ERP vendors having already rolled out and penetrated in-cloud opportunities, is it not too late for Epicor? Remarks Gill, “I believe that it is never too late, and I do not believe it is too early. I think we are at the right time because there is this paradigm shift with the cloud. More and more organisations are starting to adopt it. A lot of big cloud companies have already laid down the foundation that allows us to then go and leverage it.”
Epicor’s approach is therefore to invest in both sides of its dual pronged strategy – invest in channel partners and invest in its direct to customer channel. Its new tag line, Grow Business Not Software, is an indication that there is no turning back now for this ERP vendor.
Epicor ERP on cloud
- Ability to take cloud based apps and move them on-premises
- Choice is the most important from a customer perspective
- Dual strategy, channel partners and direct accounts
- Easier for cloud applications to inter-operate than on-premises
- Epicor’s new slogan – Grow business not software
- ERP on-cloud no different from other cloud applications
- Millennial individual expects totally different experience in workplace
- Never going to have half the relationships partners have
- We are not too late and it is not too early
- What happens if a customer decides to pull back from cloud to on-premises
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