Epicor CEO Cowan pledges continued commitment to change to generate growth

Epicor has embarked on a process of modernizing both itself and its products to stimulate growth in a cloud world, and while the CEO acknowledged there had been some rough patches, he asked his customers for patience.

Epicor CEO Joe Cowan, on stage at the Epicor event.

NASHVILLE — A year ago, at Epicor’s Customer Conference in Las Vegas, CEO and President Joe Cowan emphasized in his keynote to customers that the company is committed to major changes to its systems and products, to take customers into the cloud and become easier to do business with. On Tuesday, at this year’s event in Nashville, he re-emphasized that commitment to change, acknowledged that it sometimes caused customers some pain, but declared that it was necessary for growth.

“The theme of the conference this year is growth – growth for Epicor and growth for you,” Cowan told customers in his keynote. “We are in a very interesting time, which can be a fearful one with all the change that is going on. We are going on a journey in Epicor and are going to be changing. That change will allow us to grow.”

Cowan emphasized the salience of a Wall Street Journal story, which emphasized that while change is constant, growth is optional.

“If you don’t change, you will probably be left behind,” he warned his audience. “Growth is not possible without change. If you don’t change, 10 years from now, maybe even five years from now, you likely won’t be around.”

Cowan acknowledged that change had sometimes inflicted pain on some customers, particularly with the ERP 10 release, but stated that everything they had done was designed to make Epicor simpler and easier to do business with. He also emphasized that Epicor is showing how they are using change to provide customers with better goods and services, and that with the new releases of Epicor ERP, Eclipse and Prophet 21, they are providing customers with the right information at the right time for them to make the right decisions.

The CEO then outlined core areas where Epicor’s change will positively impact partners.

“We are expanding e-commerce capabilities in all our products,” he said. “Even manufacturers now need e-commerce capabilities to reach their customers, so we are extending it into their products.”

Cowan also stressed customers could expect to see improvements in training and education.

“This is one of the areas where I’m pushing the organization,” he told attendees. “The days when a trainer spends all day teaching you about the product are gone. We’ve got to be more productive than that. It’s like if I get a drone myself, I don’t want to read a 10 page manual to learn how to use a drone. I want to get it quickly off the Internet.”

Cowan pledged that customers will see Epicor using a lot more of tools like little applets in their support center and training, to improve effectiveness.

While upgrade times have already been trimmed, Cowan promised more action on this, as well as shorter implementation cycles.

“In upgrading from ERP 9 to 10, I would want to have a one button upgrade!” he stated. “We aren’t there right now, but we want to achieve that. When I asked how long the next version upgrade would take, I was told it would take 11 months. Wrong answer! We are now down to four months. In January, we acquired docSTAR, whose enterprise content management solutions streamline business processes, to give us the tools to reduce that further. We have also set a goal for our professional services teams to reduce implementation time by half.”

Cowan indicated that as of November, Epicor itself now uses ERP 10 to run its own business, and is committed to using its own products. He also emphasized a theme he stressed last year, that Epicor is committed to embracing the cloud, and that it is the wave of the future, even though many customers are not yet ready to change now.

“We are making sure we invest in the right data centres, the right infrastructure, the right security in our products and in the data centres so we can run them in the cloud,” he said. “We are investing in this infrastructure to be a company that can better serve you.”

Epicor has invested heavily in its EpicCare support platform, which was designed to unify what had been a diverse array of support systems throughout their product lines. Cowan acknowledged that so far, the results have not been consistently superior, but pledged that is coming.

“Some of you have had positive experiences with EpicCare, and some negative, but that’s change, when we ask you to do things differently,” he said. “When we are through with this journey, you will see all of these objectives – customer satisfaction, streamlined workflow, improved service levels – will be met. Be patient!”

Cowan said that Epicor has mandated its employees to make it easier to do business with the company – guided by three terms– Easy Simple and Low Risk.

“Every employee will be taxed with making things easier, simpler, and lower risk for you,” Cowan pledged. “That’s what we are focused on. In this disruptive time, this is the right approach.”