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Epicor ups its cloud ERP game with Kinetic rebrand

If you build a cloud-native ERP, customers will come. That's the thinking behind rebranding Epicor ERP 10 as Epicor Kinetic, a multi-tenant SaaS ERP.

Epicor Software Co. is making a play as a cloud-first ERP company with the rebranding of its flagship Epicor ERP product.

Epicor ERP 10, now called Epicor Kinetic, is a multi-tenant SaaS ERP system for small to medium-sized manufacturing and distribution firms and offers functionality for specific industries, including discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing, metals and lumber.

Although Epicor ERP 10 was cloud-ready -- along with several other Epicor products such as Prophet 21 (distribution ERP), BisTrack (lumber and building industry ERP) and CMS (automotive industry ERP) -- Epicor Kinetic had to be cloud native for customers to realize the full benefits of a digital transformation, said Himanshu Palsule, president of Epicor.

"It was essential to get the products there, which is sometimes the easier job, and then start converting our 20,000 on-premises customers to the cloud," Palsule said. "Because if you don't do that, you've, essentially, built a product that they can't get to."

Epicor Kinetic, which Palsule called "the culmination of the journey to now have a cloud-native ERP built for manufacturers," was built on Microsoft Azure and given a modern multi-device browser-based UX, he said.

Using Azure as the PaaS brings in Industry 4.0 technology like IoT; business intelligence; and AI with LUIS, Azure's natural language understanding information system, according to Palsule.

Himanshu PalsuleHimanshu Palsule

Easier customizations

Epicor Kinetic also includes Application Studio, a low-code/no-code development environment that enables customers to more easily create customizations such as time-consuming and costly last-mile processes.

"Sometimes that last mile is a complex enough subvertical that someone has to come in and tweak -- like how bills-of-materials are tracked," he said. "Application Studio allows you to drop in code or generate specific code, but it then survives upgrades. So, it's an essential part of being industry-focused, but also being in the cloud."

He provided an example of a lumber manufacturer that monitored the humidity of logs on site using IoT sensors to collect data, and the Application Studio to write a customized function in Epicor Kinetic so it had the correct saws in place when the logs were brought into the cutting factory.

Epicor also added to its product roster with the acquisition of KBMax in May for undisclosed terms. KBMax provides cloud-based configure-price-quote (CPQ) software with visualization capabilities that allow users to build 3D models of products and dynamically connect these with prices and costs. Epicor will integrate the KBMax CPQ capabilities into Epicor Kinetic and its other ERP products, according to the company.

Predrag JakovljevicPredrag Jakovljevic

Name change is the big news

But despite the rebranding announcement, Predrag Jakovljevic, principal industry analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers in Quebec, said there's not a lot that's new in Epicor Kinetic, as most of the features were unveiled within the last few years.

"The main news here is the name change to Kinetic for the entire ERP suite," Jakovljevic said. "Maybe they did this because all of the other Epicor ERP products have distinct names, such as Prophet 21, Eclipse, BisTrack and CMS, so it was a bit weird that the flagship offering was simply called ERP 10."

Nevertheless, he said, Epicor Kinetic has improved usability and is very functional for discrete manufacturing. It also takes advantage of the Azure PaaS for advanced functionality like AI and robotic process automation. Kinetic is suitable for more complex manufacturing like engineer-to-order and assemble-to-order processes, where it competes with products from Infor, IFS and Microsoft Dynamics AX. Other products like those from Plex, NetSuite and QAD may be more suitable for less complex, more repetitive manufacturing.

Jakovljevic said the KBMax acquisition takes Epicor's CPQ functionality to the next level.

"Epicor ERP 10 had its own complex product configurator, but it was not easy to use, is on premises only and demands developers to do the administration and rules management," he said. "KBMax is true cloud and has a low-code rules engine, and CPQ will be offered to not only Kinetic ERP, but to all of the other Epicor ERP products."

Shawn WindleShawn Windle

Epicor continues to introduce technical advances to its cloud ERP, which improves its competitive advantage against other tier 2 ERP vendors to meet the requirements of industry-specific customers, said Shawn Windle, founder and managing principal of ERP Advisors Group, a firm based in Lakewood, Colo., that provides independent advice on ERP selection and implementation.

"From the Kinetic rebrand to Application Studio to acquisition of KBMax, Epicor is going prime-time with cloud in the next-generation ERP market," Windle said.

Jim O'Donnell is a TechTarget news writer who covers ERP and other enterprise applications for SearchSAP and SearchERP.

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