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Epicor ERP adds docSTAR automated AP and ECM to portfolio

Epicor acquires docSTAR and pushes its automated AP and ECM applications for manufacturing customers; IoT spending going up for manufacturing, according to IDC report.

Epicor has acquired docSTAR, bringing enterprise document management into its Epicor ERP portfolio.

The Epicor ERP platform focuses primarily on midmarket businesses, mainly in manufacturing and distribution, retail and services. Based in Schenectady, N.Y., docSTAR develops collaborative cloud-based enterprise content management (ECM) and automated accounts payable applications, also primarily aimed at midmarket organizations.

The combination of product capabilities and similar market focus made docSTAR a natural fit for Epicor, according to Kathy Crusco, Epicor's CFO and COO. Epicor will focus on delivering docSTAR's automated accounts payable and ECM applications to manufacturing customers, followed shortly by distribution customers.

"We believe that this is a core capability that our Epicor ERP customers need and want, and we would like to be able to own the direction where the product is going," Crusco said. "They have a cloud solution that is very attractive and important for us because it marries up quite well with our cloud solution."

Founded in 1996, docSTAR develops smart ECM, document management, automated accounts payable and electronic forms applications that integrate with third-party systems, including Epicor, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor, Sage and QuickBooks. The applications can be deployed on premises or in the cloud. 

The docSTAR products will be integrated into the Epicor ERP portfolio, but the company will continue to run as an independent business unit, according to Tom Franceski, docSTAR's former president, who will continue with Epicor as general manager of the document management business.

"We're interested in continuing to build out our ECM platform and ECM business and we're viewing Epicor as one more distribution channel for us to continue our growth and the direction we're on," Franceski said. "We're going to run independently at some level, but we're also going to leverage the strengths of Epicor. They're an organization that has a lot of expertise around processes and how to run a successful software business, so we're going to leverage the strength of the Epicor organization as much as we can, their business practices and everything associated with it to build an organization as strong as they are."

Franceski said that automating business processes such as accounts payable and document management makes sense as companies, particularly manufacturers, continue to move to digital transformation.

"We've seen the complimentary nature of the ERP and ECM in terms of the power that it can deliver for organizations to truly automate processes from digital to content," he said. "So there's a number of different drivers for the integrated solution -- there's cost savings, there's productivity, there's compliance for heavily regulated environments, and of course one of Epicor's core customer bases is in manufacturing and there's a lot of compliance requirements in manufacturing."

There are about 2000 docSTAR customers currently, and Franceski said the company will continue to integrate with various ERP systems. However, he noted that the deal with Epicor represents a good fit for both companies' customer bases.

"We haven't had a lot of cross sales yet with Epicor and that's one of the reasons why this is such an exciting opportunity," he said. "The reality is that accounts payable automation penetration is still not that high, so there's a lot of opportunity for growth there."

Spending on IoT for manufacturing going way up

Global spending on internet of things technology will grow by almost 18% in 2017, with the bulk of the investment coming in manufacturing.

A report from International Data Corp. (IDC) forecasts that companies will spend $737 billion on hardware, software, services and connectivity that enables IoT. The updated "Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide" projects that global IoT spending will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.6% from 2015 to 2020, eventually reaching $1.29 trillion by 2020.

The manufacturing industry will make the largest IoT investment at $178 billion, followed by transportation ($78 billion) and utilities ($69 billion). The consumer IoT segment was the fourth largest in 2016, although the report projects that it will become the third largest by 2020. Other industries that are expected to spend heavily on IoT include insurance, consumer goods, healthcare and retail.

In the manufacturing sector, manufacturing operations will make up the most IoT spending at $102.5 billion. Other manufacturing use cases include production asset management and maintenance and field service. In the transportation segment, the largest investment will be made in freight monitoring, at $55.9 billion. The largest use case investment for utilities will be $57.8 billion in smart grid technology for electricity and gas. The largest investment in the insurance segment will be telemetrics; remote health monitoring will lead health care; and omni-channel operations and digital signage will lead retail.

Across all industries, hardware technology will be the largest spending category throughout the forecast, followed by services, software and connectivity. Although hardware spending is projected to nearly double over the five years to about $400 billion, it will experience the slowest growth rate. Software and services spending will grow at a faster rate than hardware and connectivity. Most hardware spending will be on modules and sensors that connect endpoints to networks. Application software will make up more than half of all the IoT software investments.

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