The rising alternative

Epicor Software  is gearing up to showcase its cloud-ready, vertical-focused ERP solutions at the upcoming Gitex week. We spoke to Monzer Tohme, the regional VP of sales, for his take on the trends shaping the regional ERP market.

Is ERP market becoming saturated?

There is a still huge demand for ERP in this market, whether it is on-premise or cloud. We see a need for business applications across different verticals and there are many customers who are not still not fully automated. Another segment is businesses looking to replace their legacy systems and that offers us a huge opportunity.

Which verticals have the biggest need for ERP solutions?

If you look at Epicor, historically, we have been known as the manufacturing ERP. We have expanded into other areas such as services, retail and hospitality. We are now exploring opportunities in retail and manufacturing execution, where we have a really strong value-proposition.

Will cloud be the default deployment method for ERP by 2020?

ERP on cloud will indeed become dominant by 2020, however, we still see many customers who prefer on-premise model. If you look at government and semi-government organisations, they are more into on-premise because of the mandate to keep applications and data within the country. The private sector is more open to cloud, but majority of them have already invested in hardware and infrastructure, and they will have to internally justify the cost of scrapping what’s already in place before making the move. Having said that, there are many other niche areas which have gone to cloud, CRM being a case in point. But, the real evaluation comes in when you put something business critical as ERP on cloud.

You have recently come up with new version of your ERP solutions. What is new?

The user interface has been enhanced with a focus on simplicity and ease of use. In addition to cloud capabilities, we have built industry-specific functionalities. We have added Big Data analytics, so the embedded BI tool will give you predictive analytics. If you look at manufacturing execution segment, now we have the capability to collect data directly from machines and communicate it back to ERP so you can make smart decisions when it comes to shop floor control. We have also enhanced the mobility features by building more applications for smart devices across platforms.

Do you have plans to come out with industry-specific ERP like you have done with iScala for hospitality?

We already have best of breed solutions for different industry verticals, and it doesn’t make sense to reinvent these solutions across different product portfolio. We are not in every industry, so our strategy is to focus on the industries I told you about and build specific functionalities to address their challenges. One size fits all approach doesn’t work anymore, and good number of our wins in this region is by replacing other ERP vendors. This is because these companies who went and bought these ERP solutions have realised that their system has automated financial reporting but hasn’t address their unique industry challenges. So if you are in retail, you need something that addresses your business needs and this is where we come in with very focused solutions.

Do you think existing ERP systems can address the challenges associated with Industry 4.0?

If you look at industry 4.0, what are the key elements? It is around automation, cloud and artificial intelligence. I think vendors, including Epicor, are already doing all of that, and ERP will continue to evolve over the coming years with a focus on big data, analytics, and of course AI.






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