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Epicor unveils Grow portfolio of AI, BI capabilities

Epicor unveiled AI and BI capabilities in its new Epicor Grow portfolio, including Prism, which enables customers to build generative AI tasks on their Epicor ERP data.

Epicor ERP is adding to the parade of AI-infused products with new industry-specific capabilities aimed at making frontline workers more productive.

The company unveiled its Epicor Grow portfolio, featuring a new set of AI and business intelligence (BI) capabilities, at its Epicor Insights 2024 user conference Tuesday.

The new capabilities use different forms of AI such as generative AI and machine learning to drive more than 200 industry-specific use cases for manufacturing, distribution and retail industries, according to the company.

The core component of Epicor Grow is Epicor Prism, a set of generative AI services that helps customers and partners use Epicor's data model to build, extend and deploy AI functions for their specific requirements, said Vaibhav Vohra, Epicor CTO.

Users access Prism via the Epicor ERP application, and a network of task-specific agents work behind the scenes to provide insights or perform actions as prompted, Vohra said.

Frontline workers for the Visa Cash App RB Formula One Team have used Prism to make more informed supply chain decisions, he said. Prism enables workers to request information from thousands of suppliers and then analyzes the responses based on criteria such as price, performance and on-time delivery, Vohra said.

"This will help them make better supply chain decisions by allowing them to digest all that information, connect with all their suppliers and do things that might take them weeks in a matter of 10 minutes," he said.

ERP is moving away from being a transactions-centric system to providing insights and actions. Many Epicor customers have moved to the cloud in the last few years, putting them in position to capitalize on new capabilities, said Lisa Pope, president of Epicor.

At the same time, many companies in manufacturing, distribution and retail are struggling with issues around hiring and retaining workers as they face increasing supply chain challenges, she said. AI can be a technology that helps workers rather than one that threatens jobs.

"We see this platform as helping our workers be more productive and alleviating some of that gap versus seeing any threat to workers," Pope said.

The Epicor Grow platform will be bundled into the cloud version of Epicor ERP at no incremental cost to customers, according to Pope. There might be platform fees for some AI capabilities, but these have not yet been determined.

Epicor Grow AI capabilities are currently available to a small number of Epicor customers who are collaborating to provide feedback on usage, with general availability to come later this year.

Other components in the Epicor Grow platform include the following:

  • Epicor Grow Inventory Forecasting, a predictive analytics and modelling application based on Epicor's acquisition of Smart Software earlier this month. It can help run "what-if" scenarios for inventory management and forecasting.
  • Epicor Grow Financial Planning and Analysis, a financial reporting application.
  • Epicor Grow BI, a no-code application that enables users to illustrate BI data with visuals, metrics and dashboards.
  • Epicor Grow Data Platform, a no-code data platform that enables users to manage enterprise data in one place to feed Epicor AI or BI applications.

Generative AI and worker productivity

Williams Distributing, an HVAC distributor in Grand Rapids, Mich., has worked with Epicor on honing industry-specific AI functionality in Prophet 21, an Epicor ERP product.

One capability helps Williams' customer service and sales employees automatically add items to customer orders, according to Jeff Fuller, vice president of information technology at Williams Distributing.

We want this to help guide the employee to what they really need to be looking at, not what they don't need to waste their time on.
Jeff FullerVice president of information technology, Williams Distributing

"[Previously], if you wanted to add accessory items, you had to manually load those for each item in the system," Fuller said. "For example, if you're selling a furnace and want to add the PVC pipe, the drain and other items with it, you would have to manually add all those things together in the background. Now it's just going to suggest them based on what other people are ordering, which is a huge step up."

The Prism results can be trusted because the trained algorithm only has access to Williams' data, he said.

"It's not comparing those three items on that order to any other distributor. It's only comparing them to our customers in our database," Fuller said.

Epicor's new AI capabilities are part of an evolution of warehouse technology that will aid the worker and add to the users' working conditions, he said.

"We want this to help guide the employee to what they really need to be looking at, not what they don't need to waste their time on," Fuller said. "That provides better customer service and makes the employee feel more useful and valuable."

ERP users are looking for GenAI

Epicor is putting its R&D efforts into AI and data management, which is a positive move, according to Mickey North Rizza, group vice president for enterprise software at IDC.

With AI, organizations can optimize business processes across the data and reduce steps and time to get to insights, Rizza said.

"This new visibility enables employees to engage easier and better with the technology, enabling faster time to decisions and improving the value of the response with more information," she said.

Embedding generative AI into its applications should help Epicor retain its customers, Rizza said. Indeed, recent data from IDC SaaSPath 2024 -- research on SaaS buying across several enterprise segments, including ERP -- indicates that 25% of organizations are planning on replacing their current applications provider if generative AI is not included in the next release. Further, 21% plan to renew with their current provider because they are including generative AI in their next release.

"We are finding that any vendor who is embracing AI will be here for the foreseeable future as long as they maintain security, trust and responsible AI," she said.

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

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