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Epicor ERP adds low-code BI with Grow acquisition

Epicor's acquisition of Grow Inc. provides the ERP vendor with a low-code business intelligence tool that provides business users flexible and easy-to-use analytics capabilities.

Epicor is adding more business intelligence to its ERP products with the acquisition of Grow Inc.

Grow's low-code BI product is aimed at average business users, although it has capabilities for more complex analysis by data scientists, according to the company. It combines data integrations, data warehousing and visualization tools that enable users to create analytics reports. For data sources, Grow includes more than 150 pre-built data connectors to several enterprise platforms, databases and CRM systems, and uses APIs to continually import data into the application.

Epicor is based in Austin, Texas, and focuses on functionality for midmarket manufacturers, including supply chain, inventory planning, and management, distribution and finance. In 2020, the company was acquired by the private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice for $4.7 billion. Epicor subsequently revamped its traditional on-premises ERP systems for the cloud and has bought up four additional companies in the past year.

The acquisition of Grow adds another BI tool to the Epicor ERP product family, which already includes Epicor Data Analytics (EDA), a cloud-based analytics tool built by BI vendor Phocas. Epicor will continue to go to market with EDA and will continue to enable customers to connect with other BI and analytics applications, according to the company.

However, the addition of Grow fills a hole in Epicor's ERP tool belt by providing a BI product aimed squarely at average business users, said Vince Castiglione, global head of corporate development at Epicor.

Aimed at business users, but can scale for data scientists

"We call it a self-service type model, as it's very intuitive and very flexible for a business user, but also has the complexities that a [data] analyst or [data analysis] team can use as well," Castiglione said. "It's something that we felt would fill a particular void."

Epicor was looking to expand its BI capabilities, and Castiglione said Grow's technology and team were a good fit.

"We have BI partner relationships today, and we see coexistence there today as well, and it's something that we can serve a complete market for," he said. "When we looked at the platform itself, it really checked the boxes because it's cloud native and has a very modern tech stack."

The low-code ease of use is a huge advantage for Grow, as a large part of Epicor's ERP customer base is SMBs, particularly in manufacturing, according to Castiglione. But Grow can also scale up to more complex analytics.

"Grow is something that you don't necessarily need a SQL developer for. It could get as complicated as a company needs, but it's really focused on those companies that don't have a data sciences team," he said. "A business user can configure and produce what they need from a dashboard."

Based in Lehi, Utah, Grow has 40 employees. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Epicor hits 3 ERP trends

The acquisition of Grow reflects three ERP trends: the move to best-of-breed systems, the evolution of low-code applications, and the increasing focus on data and analytics, according to Eric Kimberling, CEO of Third Stage Consulting Group, an independent enterprise industry consulting firm in Lone Tree, Colo.

"This acquisition allows Epicor to provide additional strength related to companies that might be considering best-of-breed types of solutions by integrating data sets across Epicor and other systems," Kimberling said. "It also shores up Epicor's financial integration and reporting competencies to better compete with Oracle, SAP and others that are strong in this area."

There are pros and cons for Epicor to have its own BI platform, said Cindy Jutras, president of Mint Jutras, an enterprise systems research and advisory firm in Windham, N.H.

"It's great in the sense that they can embed it within their application for smaller companies to use without a big investment in that kind of technology," Jutras said. "Not so much for customers that have decided to go with one of the bigger BI names like Tableau."

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

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