In this interview, Pankaj Maru of ETCIO speaks to Himanshu Palsule, Chief Product & Technology Officer and EVP – Epicor, to discuss about the changes in ERP software, trends that are shaping the ERP software and also talks about the product and innovation strategy of Epicor in 2018 and how enterprises and organisations are leveraging ERP today than in the past.
Q1. With the software and IT industry undergoing rapid changes where does ERP as a software offering stands today? Is ERP seeing any major impact due to those technology changes in recent times?
Manufacturing sector or manufacturers were the early adopters of ERP and over the years the manufacturing sector has evolved in the way it uses technology. However, there are four major forces, including – cloud, intelligence or predictive analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and the experience that have impacted ERP in a big way.
With the advent of cloud, ERP is offered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) that has expanded its reach. Instead of being a system of records, ERP is now helping in making dynamic, intelligent decisions and so intelligence is the second force. The third force is the ability to collaborate across the top floor to the shop floor and bespoke systems, which people call it IoT or communicating with smart machines, communicating within context of data. And the fourth one is the experience, where I think the expectation is no longer -18 month cycles, large, complex implementations, and long time frames for realisation of value to cash.
So if you take these four together – cloud, intelligence and analytics, IoT and the experience, this is causing a seismic shift in which CIOs is looking for, when they are making the next ERP buying decision. And as we are building out Epicor ERP we certainly want to participate as the only manufacturing based ERP available in the cloud solving the needs with predictive intelligence with specific modules. That is what I think is different today from the ERP 10 years ago.
Q2. What are the key trends you see around ERP software?
The first thing is that ERP needs to be context aware, whether it is how data is entered, how it is processed and reports are done or how decisions are made. The ERP need to be much more aware than it used to be. It used to be largely a transaction posting engine, where it took all this data and then sort of balanced it out. So this whole data aware part of it is a massive trend that sits in the centre of it. The second area where ERP is evolving is the collaboration. I call it combining the shop floor and the top floor. They were largely disconnected. The guy on the production floor had to worry about – how many pieces get produced, what is his capacity planning and forecasting and the guy sitting upstairs had to worry about budgets and vendor and supplier planning and all that. I think that’s where the integration needs to be seen today. It needs to enable these customised systems and manage them centrally.
The third thing is this whole intelligence – ERP need to be able to project for customers. Most people are on their third or fourth ERP by now, so they are not looking for another large monolithic ERP system. They are looking for something that can provide insights. So in the design of the recent version ERP 10.2, we added something like the Epicor data discovery as a functionality where the data easily in a Google like fashion can be discovered anywhere within the ERP pro natural language interface. And the social stuff is almost an upside down way in which ERPs used to work which is very menu driven, very sequential, very time based. So I think those are some of the trends that we are all over, within the next release of ERP and the market is going to start demanding.