Kevin Roach, executive vice president and general manager of Epicor, talks with MDM about the merger of software companies Activant and Epicor and how the new organization is working to get the most out of its combined capabilities. Here’s how the integration will affect distributors.
The merger of Activant and Epicor in April was just one of the latest developments in the continuing consolidation of the distribution software industry. Kevin Roach, executive vice president and general manager of the new combined Epicor, recently spoke with MDM about the merger and what it means for distribution companies currently on Epicor platforms or looking to upgrade.
“The complementary nature of this merger is quite significant,” Roach says. It begins with minimal market focus overlap between the two companies. The former Epicor focused on manufacturing, high-end retail and services. Activant, on the other hand, keyed in on distribution, lower-end retail, as well as data and content.
Overlap only existed in the distribution space, but even that was limited because Epicor only recently began expanding into that space.
Integration of the two companies into the new Epicor is ongoing and multi-dimensional, Roach says. “We’ve created an integration management office … to define the workstreams, to get the most leverage out of the combined organization, to deliver the best experience to employees and the best value to shareholders and customers,” he says.
Getting the most out of the combined organization by combining and adapting existing technologies is a key component to the integration, Roach says. Activant has been “feverishly working” on its Distribution Suite over the past year.
While the company has always said the product would be “multi-year, multi-release, multi-generational,” developers now have access to additional modules from the Epicor catalog that will allow significant time to be shaved off the process.
“Some of (Activant’s) customers said, ‘We want human capital management capabilities in our ERP. And we’d like a very robust professional services capability. And time and attendance.And payroll would be pretty nice, too, if you could throw that in there,’” Roach says. “Well, those applications are now available to our customers because they were a part of Epicor’s offerings. That depth and breadth of resources will allow our combined research & development team to focus on developing new technologies for the marketplace.”
New trends in ERP technology have already started to emerge, and companies will have to be prepared to meet that demand if they want to stand out from an increasingly consolidated distribution software market, Roach says. Some examples of emerging technology being explored by Epicor include:
Social media: “We’ve already identified social media as an up-and-coming, important event,” Roach says. Technology companies will have to evolve systems of records into systems of engagement – supporting greater interaction with customers – sooner rather than later.
Business analytics: Companies want their operational analysis to be faster and easier. Epicor recently announced an executive iPad application that allows analysis to be embedded in the real-time workflow. “Instead of having to run a bunch of analytics, the analytics will happen as you do your job,” Roach says.
Mobile technologies: Salespeople and executives also want to be able to complete all of their tasks from wherever they are, requiring software companies to develop mobile solutions to meet that demand.
Elimination of manual data entry: “We prescribe that manual data entry needs to be shot dead as soon as possible,” Roach says. “Manual entry is a source of high cost, delays and errors that can be resolved through technology.” The company recently announced its solution to this in AutoOrder – a module that can automatically input orders received via fax or email.
“I think that you’re going see a new breed of company” come out of this merger, Roach says. “We’re going to define ourselves as a global company that’s more effective and comprehensive in its approach to distribution.”