Interactive interfaces are the next stage in workforce agility, providing more visibility into data and processes while enabling faster reaction times. Epicor Virtual Agent (EVA) is Epicor Software Corp.’s answer to manufacturers’ desire to extract more value from their current assets and investments without incurring higher costs or sacrificing product quality. The Epicor Virtual Agent, aptly named EVA, is a cutting-edge digital assistant designed to help users work more intelligently.
Epicor Virtual Agent (EVA) At Work
With built-in artificial intelligence, EVA is able to simplify user interactions with the ERP system and automate manual tasks to speed up operations. Text and voice cognitive skills enable EVA to transform data into visual representations. The result is an intuitive experience that allows users to complete actions on native devices with ease. The technology is powered by Natural Language Processing (NLP), a human-computer interactive technology that users can leverage from mobile devices with requests and tasks that will be addressed by the Epicor Virtual Agent. Targeted information and data to enable faster, better decision making is then delivered in real-time.
According to Scott Hays, Epicor senior vice president of product marketing, “When EVA responds within the Epicor solution, she does so with more visuals,” offering the example, “If I ask for a typical part, I’ll get back an image of the part with the key information I need to know right away. And, she’ll have a ‘next best action’ button.” Users can also request more information, including part price or quantity on hand, which will be provided by the Epicor Virtual Agent via the request and response interface.
Taking The Epicor Virtual Agent Beyond Conversation
While the request/response conversational experience may be what most users are familiar with when it comes to virtual agents, the Epicor Virtual Agent extends functionality into proactive suggestion based on best practices. The proactive decision-making process takes into account combinations of events, market statistics and historical data. Designed to extend and support the workforce, EVA can provide insights teams can easily overlook to improve accuracy, problem-spotting, and can even forecast or adjust production or distribution levels according to customer demand.
When conversation falls short, actional insights reinforce the agent’s effectiveness according to Hayes, who elaborated on what it means to be an effective virtual agent, stating “The second capability is taking action. If EVA has noticed something going on, she may say that based on what she’s seeing happening on the factory floor that I should schedule maintenance on a machine.” The data described includes that from shop floor machines and IoT sensors. These devices, coupled with Epicor ERP, create a virtual nervous system that enables seamless and informed communications between EVA and users’ mobile devices.
The Epicor Virtual Agent In Action
By utilizing the EVA via an interface device, management can confirm or deny suggestions from the Epicor Virtual Agent with just a few clicks or taps. Production managers can schedule maintenance for a machine, shift production to other machines, and carry out an array of other actions with ease.
The Epicor Virtual Agent goes beyond traditional manufacturing scenarios, too. Other applications and industry-specific use cases include:
- Distribution — EVA can provide outside sales and field service representatives with the instant and easy access to information they need, such as product details, price, and availability information, as well as the ability to create a quote on their mobile devices while meeting with customers face-to-face.
- Retail — EVA utilizes an AI-powered recommendation engine based on market basket analysis to suggest relevant cross-sell or up-sell recommendations in real-time. This can take place in the aisle, in real-time, where purchase decisions are made.
- Automotive Aftermarket — By using AI to evaluate huge datasets that include vehicle registrations and parts failure rates by region, EVA can communicate to auto parts distributors that specific parts are in high demand and stock levels of specific parts need to be replenished or increased to meet that projected demand.
Leveraging The Epicor Virtual Agent Alongside Epicor ERP
Developed using AI services from Microsoft Azure AI services are an integral part of EVA’s development. As such, the Epicor Virtual Agent can accompany any size and type of Epicor implementation, be it on-premise or in the cloud. By delivering the power of EVA to customers of every size, even small and medium-sized companies can leverage innovative tech the biggest enterprises use to grow their businesses.
Hays emphasizes EVA’s machine learning component and how extended use will make the tool even more ubiquitous, “With EVA, you interact naturally with your ERP system. It’s as easy as just talking or typing to a colleague. This makes the breadth and depth of the industry-specific functionality and information available inside the system directly accessible to a larger audience, boosting productivity and efficiency, and giving the company an improved return on their ERP investment.”
EVA will be available as part of the latest releases of Epicor ERP and Prophet 21, which are planned for general availability in May 2019.
About Encompass Solutions
Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.