Features, Insight, Interviews

Transforming the cloud

Vibhu Kapoor, Regional Vice President – Middle East, Africa & India at Epicor, discusses how the company drives positive change and transformation in the cloud journey of businesses.   

Can you outline to our readers how your company is pioneering its technology domain in the region, and thus delivering the ‘experience’ that your customers, end-users, and partners’ demand in the experience economy?  

If the region’s technological advancement in recent years has shown us anything, it is that cloud is the home of competitive advantage. It is a time saver, a cost saver, and quite possibly a business saver. That is why ERP belongs in the cloud. With much of the humdrum automated, the enterprise spends more time thinking and training, which leads to more thinking. Sooner or later, innovation hatches.  

Epicor has been one of first vendors to not only recognise this, but also act on it for the benefit of regional businesses. We recently launched our Epicor Kinetic cloud offering, hosted on Microsoft Azure, in the UAE. This initiative underscores our commitment to regional customers by addressing concerns such as latency, data governance, and sovereignty issues. By pre-emptively establishing a locally delivered cloud solution, we mitigate potential hurdles, showcasing our forward-looking approach and dedication to customer-centric solutions. This initiative reinforces our competitive advantage and ensures our customers and their end users get the high-quality experiences they seek in the digital economy.  

OpenAI and ChatGPT are all the rage, and these new AI integrations have been tipped to fundamentally reshape all major industries as we know them. What is your view on OpenAI, are you excited by the new opportunities that it will present, or do you think more regulation is needed to control its impact on society?  

While the power of large language models has become apparent to businesses and consumers across the globe over the last 12 months, we believe huge benefit can be realised through the domain specific application of artificial intelligence. For this reason, we have collaborated with OpenAI, and combined the power of ChatGPT with our industry expertise to deliver predictive analytics and contextual recommendations via our intuitive Epicor Virtual Agent (EVA). This enables Epicor users to save valuable time analysing information across both internal and external data sources. All they need to do is simply query EVA to quickly uncover the answer they need to make informed decisions.  

There has been a swathe of digital and cloud transformation projects in the Middle East over the last 3-5 years. However, many have struggled with the demands of cloud transformation, especially legacy-heavy players. What are the key processes that enterprises need to adopt to ensure a successful transformation journey?  

Success in the digital transformation journey is as dependent on the strategy as it is on the technologies actually being implemented. Assuming the organisation is working with world class technology providers such as Epicor, then the other critical element is project and people management. Perhaps the most important management best practice CIOs need to employ is how to effectively lead people: the talent on their teams, their colleagues leading other business functions, their own managers, and vendors. Most enterprise solutions require a complex mix of information technologies and cross-functional internal and external talent to generate requirements, design a solution, and to implement and operate. 

And leading means many things in this context: demonstrating deep business and technology acumen, effectively engaging and energizing stakeholders, promoting disciplined program and project management skills, and doing so with a collegial, collaborative, can-do attitude.  

Supplementing the above with a clarity of vision and an ability to simplify the inherently complex, and CIOs stand a good chance of being viewed as strong business leaders who are able to champion effective digital transformation.  

In your expert opinion, what do you view as the biggest problem facing enterprises in the IT and technology industry across the Middle East?  

Following on from the ‘Amazon effect’ where people have become accustomed to receiving items and services almost instantaneously, we are finding that customer expectations are reflective of this. It’s great to see customers being passionate and customising elements where they can, but the scale and speed is putting the pressure on IT companies to provide advanced solutions along with the right skills/capabilities to deliver those solutions. This challenge of course is compounded by the important issue effecting the industry – supply chain security. 

This supplement is titled Tech Vision, so with that in mind, can you outline your company’s vision for 2024. What are your goals and aspirations for the Middle East region? 

Looking ahead to 2024, our focus remains unwavering as we strive to elevate Epicor’s visibility and value proposition within the community. Our primary objective is to continually emphasise the worth of our solutions amidst market trends. Additionally, we are committed to the ongoing empowerment and skill enhancement of our channel partners, ensuring their readiness to cater to diverse industries and sub-verticals.  

Recruiting specialised partners for key solutions such as Epicor Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Manufacturing Execution Systems, and CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) is a priority. And so too is supporting government initiatives and empowering organisations to leverage the power of data with our ERP solution. 

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