The annual Epicor Customer Conference, Insights, was revived in person for 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still fresh in everyone’s mind, Insights 2021 was a strange brew of keeping the traditional spirit of the event in line with the necessary precautions required to keep attendees safe. That being the case, the show was organized and executed for an audience that numbered a bit more than 1800. That is roughly half of the standard attendance when compared to prior iterations.

The event focused on Epicor’s full suite of business solutions, newest technological developments, and road map for the future of the company and its products along with providing ample learning and networking opportunities for attendees throughout the week. Because we and our audience work primarily with Epicor Kinetic (previously Epicor ERP), this recap will focus on items relevant to that product.

CDR Acquisition of Epicor Software Corp.

The Short: Epicor was purchased by CDR in late 2020. Rebranding followed shortly after with a new logo, marketing, and design. The company will focus efforts on being the #1 cloud ERP provider for manufacturers moving forward.

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice purchased Epicor in late 2020 for just under $5 billion. Epicor has more than 20,000 customers across the globe and offers a world-class suite of software for manufacturing, distribution, retail, and services. CDR is confident it can propel Epicor to its next stage in development and increase its market share. Part of that effort is a heavy investment in cloud technologies for Epicor industries.

By offloading IT costs, improving connectivity and coverage for any time, anywhere work, and heavily investing in cybersecurity, CDR seeks to make Epicor the leader in cloud-based ERP. That is not to say on-prem and hybrid deployments will be unavailable. It means that Epicor will move forward with a cloud-first mentality and encourage users to consider the cloud as the optimal choice for deployment.

Epicor has made it easy to recognize the benefits of the cloud and developed a roadmap for easier on-prem to cloud migration.

Epicor has redesigned its look to reflect these forward-looking changes with new logos, new marketing collateral, and a brand overhaul that is simple, sleek, and attractive.

Epicor Kinetic 2021.1

The Short: Epicor ERP has been renamed Epicor Kinetic. The enterprise management software will continue to focus on the needs of modern manufacturers. Intuitive design, functionality, and experience continue to improve user adoption and time to value. Advanced on-prem and cloud-based cybersecurity safeguards have become a priority to combat what Epicor sees as an increasingly targeted business group.

As part of Epicor’s rebrand, Epicor ERP has received a new moniker, Kinetic. The product leverages an array of next-generation personalization for businesses, employees, and their customers. The improved product delivers cutting-edge business management tools, including new validation and security tools for highly regulated industries, low-code, no-code interface design, and more product flexibility, all available within the browser.

This change is punctuated by a focus on Roles and Personas that will govern provisioning, interfaces, learning, and training, all within the Kinetic system moving forward.

Kinetic and the cloud-first approach will move forward in tandem, ensuring that customers will have the opportunity to see the software mature at their own pace and integrate when the time is right. The benefits emerge already, with those customers who are current on the software gaining the maximum benefit through future-proofing their business.

Epicor’s Acquisition of KBMax

The Short: Customer-driven eCommerce tools are now the norm and KBMax is Epicor’s answer to easy purchasing in a familiar online shopping experience. By enabling complex ETO and product configuration as a 3D visualization, manufacturers can enable customers to complete purchasing activities online, more quickly and more easily.

Customers are increasingly demanding faster quoting, more personalization, and an easy-to-use interface for their purchasing activities.

To address these needs, Epicor identified and acquired KBMax. This Engineered-to-Order (ETO) product configurator and 3D visualization tool allow for easy quoting and configuration of highly complex products. This includes everything from outbuildings, industrial equipment, furniture, and more.

Designed to provide customers the ability to build out complex product configurations in an easy-to-navigate interface, KBMax greatly improves the overall purchasing experience for the customer. As a result, businesses can more easily account for MRP and production activities, close more sales faster, and increase customer satisfaction to ensure repeat business. All of this takes place in a web browser, on a desktop PC or mobile device, for a new level of convenience.

The demonstration presented at Insights featured an e-commerce website for an ETO manufacturer of retail sheds and storage buildings. The tool provided for the complete customization of an outbuilding from material and color to trim and custom access points.

The customer could fabricate any variation of the shed with just a few clicks and be prompted with an alert following any configuration that would not be possible from an assembly or material availability standpoint.

The customer may even create a virtual yard or property exact to dimension to see how the finished product would look after installation. All of this took place within just a few short minutes before the purchase could be finalized and submitted from the user’s web browser. This tool looks very polished and will serve as an exceptional compliment to Epicor Kinetic’s eCommerce tools for manufacturers.

Cloud Deployments and Migration from On-Prem

The Short: Epicor is increasing emphasis on cloud deployments moving forward, though Hybrid and On-Premise will still be available options. This will provide businesses with superior agility for several reasons, including control, security, scalability, and collaboration. Government cloud and cloud validation packs are available for government contractors and manufacturers in highly regulated industries, such as med devices and life sciences.

The Kinetic rollout and cloud-first approach are governing the forward momentum of Epicor’s business model. As a result, Insights featured a litany of talks and labs based on the benefits of moving to the cloud and how to get there, whether starting from square one or moving from on-prem. The process has been streamlined to minimize business disruption.

Among the most popular reasons customers are choosing to move to the cloud over traditional ERP deployment models are:

  • Remaining current in stride with the pace of innovation
  • Achieving faster time to value
  • Enabling a mobile, global, and collaborative workforce
  • Minimizing environmental impacts of expansive IT hardware infrastructures
  • Facilitating IT staff to drive high-value business initiatives
  • Achieving and maintaining world-class security
  • Leveraging enterprise validation tools for highly regulated industries
  • Satisfying standards for Government-regulated manufacturing industries and contractors

The regular cadence Epicor has established for each new release of Kinetic helps to standardize and communicate change in advance. Cloud keeps these businesses protected around the clock and ahead of the curve with the most up-to-date security and functionality.

Augmented Reality, Machine Vision, and Cobots to Improve Quality and Assembly Operations

The Short: Epicor is working with cutting-edge robotics and augmented reality technology to improve assembly operations and ensure the quality of finished products. The effort also improves traceability throughout the supply chain, from the production floor to the final destination.

During the opening keynote with CEO Steve Murphy, Epicor demonstrated collaborative robots (cobots), shop floor workers, and machine vision tools working together to assemble complex products. In this case, printed circuit boards.

Serialized components were handed to workers by their cobot counterparts. The augmented reality display indicated where the next piece should be inserted into the PCB apparatus. The board was then scanned by an overhead camera to be either approved or rejected.

The actions were executed quickly and efficiently, which prompted the next piece to be retrieved by the cobot and placed appropriately by the worker. All these actions were recorded and reflected in the Kinetic system in real-time.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, or renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of the Industry.