Epicor’s MENA Customer Summit, held recently, focused on how the cloud can enable enterprises from across the manufacturing, distribution and hospitality industries to reinvent themselves amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Hesham El Komy, Regional Vice President at Epicor Software discusses the company’s focus in key segments
Please elaborate on the company’s focus at your recent customer summit?
We hold the MENA customer summit annually and have customers coming from across several countries of the region. We usually have one person from the technical team and one form the management of the companies. This has been running for over five years now. The turnout is usually quite impressive and a comfortable size for the attendees to get a good experience in terms of interactions. We had customers from across different segments of manufacturing to hospitality, trade and distribution.
The regional summit follows on the annual global summit in the US. We collate information that is relevant for specific regions and ensure that is made available through such regional events. With the advent of IoT, it is no longer about the software itself but how the software manages the efficiencies of the tools used in manufacturing. The focus at the summit was on the move towards the connected factory, Industry 4.0 moving towards Industry 5.0, RPA etc and where Epicor is placed in terms enabling it.
Elaborate how the manufacturing sector in the region is focused on digital transformation strategies?
Most manufacturers in the region are not very large sized. There are typically majority of mid-sized manufacturers with a smaller number of the upper-mid sized manufacturers. The awareness of the new technologies like IoT remains modest with many in the segment and there is a need to take the message deep. That said, there are several organizations that are very well advanced in terms of adoption but they maybe in other segments, such as government sector for instance.
You have a wide portfolio including products for Retail which aren’t available here? What determines your product strategy?
Our retail product isn’t available in this region and that is because there are several feasibility aspects to look into before releasing a software in the market. Some of the aspects that are not standard features, need to be built into the software to address specific market requirements such as the local language, mode of payment etc and then you have to look at the scope for the product in the territory. There is a lot of effort going onto that and from that perspective, we decided to focus on our strengths in the region and to be guided by the market trends. For instance, our product for the timber industry is quite strong in the US but it may not make sense to have the same here.
What are your products of focus here?
The major focus is our standard product Epicor ERP 10.0, our flagship product that addresses a broad array of requirements with many modules and functionalities with flexible deployment options, including on-premise and on-cloud featuring same code. Then there is Scala, which is a different kind of ERP that covers different kinds of functionalities and suit some typical segments like hospitality for instance. Sometimes, there are customers on Scala who are as large as any customers running our Epicor ERP 10. Then there is Epicor Human Capital Management that offers a feature-rich human resource management solution (HRMS) you can deploy in the cloud or on premises to comprehensively manage your global workforce from recruitment to retirement.
We have Mattec which is our MES solution and that enables our ERP to enter the world of IoT and managing machine efficiencies. Epicor Mattec MES helps improve productivity, lower costs, and gain a competitive edge. it offer around the clock manufacturing information for all your plant operations, reduce scrap, waste, and machine downtime with improved cycle times and production schedule efficiency on the shopfloor.
You have announced a local cloud hosting partnership with RheinBruke in addition to your partnership with Microsoft. Please elaborate on this
Epicor works with Microsoft Azure globally as it cloud partner. Here, in the region, in the face of local data regulations, we now have local solution provider for the cloud with RheinBrucke. The Microsoft offering is always there and data latency is not an issue, except for the fact that the data doesn’t reside locally. We have addressed the concerns if any of a potential customer of local data hosting with the RheinBrucke partnership. For any customer of ours in their journey with us, we will ensure they have the right product, and that their data is hosted in the right place, on premise or on cloud at any given point. Not all customers are concerned about where the data is hosted as long as it is secure.
Is Africa a focus region for Epicor?
We have some of our largest customers in Africa in markets like Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa for instance. There are parts where corruption is rife in the continent and as an American company, we ensure we stay away from those situations, choosing to select carefully the markets we work in and the kind of partners we work with. Our largest customers in fact are from the government segment.
How is the business growth in the GCC?
GCC is the hub, where we do more business but not necessarily the bigger business. We are focusing currently a lot on the market in KSA, where we are coming up as a vendor of choice. we are seeing the same trend across the region. We have high double digit growth rates in the region and is not far off from our global growth rates.
How do you recommend your customers must look at a cloud strategy?
It really depends from company to company and we advise accordingly. Some customers come to us looking for cloud options, but we may convince them against it for good reasons. For instance, we had a customer in Uganda come up to us, looking for cloud options but we advised against it as latency they would have had to deal with in relation to the cost of of installing their own infrastructure; although the initial costs would have been higher in the latter case but on the longer run, they would have a better option. For some of the other companies, we advise both options where their central HQ would have an on premise deployment and the satellite office would have on the cloud deployment.