Adaptable ERP

Matt Muldoon, senior director for product marketing at Epicor, explains how the firm’s SOA approach helps midmarket companies to gain competitive advantage from their ERP, and how it can even make them greener.

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Adaptable ERP Matt Muldoon, senior director for product marketing at Epicor on the company's mid-market approach.
By  Mark Sutton Published  July 16, 2010

ACN: Epicor is listed in the ‘visionary’ sector of Gartner’s magic quadrant for mid-level ERP. How pertinent is that to the Middle East?

Matt Muldoon: In the past we have called ourselves a midmarket specialist. Companies like SAP and Oracle are trying to move into that market because they see that tier one is just saturated. I would say that we definitely have an advantage there from a number of points of view, basic price point is one of them, both the cost of the software and the cost of the services, but technologically as well.

The Middle East is a midmarket, from both a price point and the size of the businesses that are in the Middle East. Technology is a real enabler there because midmarket companies, unlike tier-one companies have to be agile. They change their business models all the time, and they need technology that allows them to make those changes, and then to enforce them.

One of the reasons we are seen as an innovator is because we have so heavily moved into the service oriented and made it end-user enabled. We have adopted and have been using service oriented architecture for several years, true SOA. We have broken off the data at the application layer, we have broken apart all of our methods and objects, and we have true business process management between every transaction that happens, which means that the user can intervene at any step within the transaction.

They can build everything from validations to automated workflow routines. That is important, because if you can’t do that, you have got a problem with consistency and accuracy, you have problems with enforcement, and you end up using a lot more people to do it, and the key to being operationally successful is to be able to focus your people on operational parts of the business, and let the transactions help manage the business, not slow it down.

ACN: Why does Epicor focus on that user ability to configure and customise ERP deployments?

Matt Muldoon: If you look at some of the other products, they offer low-end alternatives, they are basically pre-configured systems, but they are completely pre-configured. If I bought it and my competitors bought it, we would all have the same basic procedures, and there is nothing that makes me unique from that point of view. You have got to be able to give people the ability to put their even better practices into the application, where they can gain in efficiency in the place that’s going to allow them to capture market share.

That’s what this market is all about. We all know what the economy is like at the moment, but the companies that are doing well are the ones that see it as an opportunity to grab market share, not just to survive, and we are seeing a lot of organisations that are out there right now, looking for ways to better their operations, and we are being pretty successful selling into that.

They see that the more they can automate of their basic process flows, the more they can focus on their customers and selling more products and innovating in that way. The technology is making that a lot easier. We do a lot of things in high technology - you get manufacturers that build to order for companies that design the products themselves, so you have to be very, very agile in accepting changes to those. And they change all the time, and if that’s a two or three week process, eventually they are going to get fed up. If you can automate that so it gets taken care of quickly, then they will be that much faster to market for their customers, and everybody is going to benefit.

Financial services have to offer new services everyday, they have to change the way they package services, offer different types of services, and they have to understand what that relationship is. It always amazes me that I work with a high-street bank in the UK, but the fact that the mortgage I have with them, and my private banking officer, and my insurance, are all from the same brand but don’t talk to each other drives me bonkers.

ACN: Do you think that customers get the idea of flexibility and adaptability in your products?

Matt Muldoon: If you talk to companies here in the Middle East, they are constantly adding new businesses; it is very entrepreneurial, companies start up new businesses, often in a completely different area. In the past, you would almost have to buy a different app to manage the new part of the business, but what we have done is develop a product that is based on engines or configurations that allow me to focus different parts of the business in different areas, and have it all work together.

3058 days ago
rick

Interesting.

The problem is that sometimes ERP applications are network intensive and often needs a dedicated wan or vpn connectivity. This is also mandatory since the proprietary information need to be encrypted.

We had similar issues in our site too, being a small office we tried the simple ways to optimize our erp applications. Finally we succeeded by acceleration the same via open source traffic squeezer http://www.trafficsqueezer.org platform. Most of our erp is built with opensource DB, so we need to optimize both DB connectivity and erp control data in all our gbps links.

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