Last week I attended the 2014 Epicor Insights event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. This was the third year in a row that I’ve attended this event. It was an opportunity to catch up with Epicor’s team as well as their customers. Highlights of the show included an inspiring session with President George W. Bush, a concert from Sheryl Crow, and updates on Epicor’s cloud strategy, it’s Business Process Management functionality, connectors that facilitate communication with the extended enterprise, and the Epicor University initiative. But what I most wanted to highlight for my blog readers was what I learned about Epicor Social Enterprise (ESE), Epicor’s social business technology.

I had the opportunity to sit with Robert Sinfield, Senior Product Marketing Manager, to talk about ESE. Social business technology is something that we’ve been seeing pop up quite a bit at the various ERP vendor conferences over the past few years. Epicor themselves touched briefly on the subject in 2013, but details were very scarce. According to Stanfield, that was because Epicor did not want to talk about the product when it was just an idea without any notion of how it would actually be used in practice. We had a good conversation about how it appears that the “form over substance era” may be back and how Epicor is looking to avoid those pitfalls with ESE. Social business technology is emerging, and there are few standard processes to how it is used. Epicor is looking to add more structure and add capabilities within ESE that add immediate benefit. This includes building in connections and workflows to proactively promote collaboration. It could mean things like automatic notifications. This is interesting to me because much of the press related to social business has been very “pie in the sky” and ignores how it can be used on a day to day basis.

Sinfield held a session related to social business that highlighted how it can be used in a process that is near and dear to my heart, financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting. Particularly, he illustrated how this technology can be used in conjunction with Epicor financial planning technology to promote cross departmental collaboration. You’ll note that my research finds that Best-in-Class organizations are over twice as likely to collaborate across departments and divisions in planning and budgeting. He also noted that ESE can create a record for decision-makers to understand how historical budgets were created. This is an important use case for social business technology. Currently, Best-in-Class organizations are 133% more likely than All others to utilize social collaboration technology for financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting. Still, only 28% of the Best-in-Class are currently doing it. But another 25% of the Best-in-Class are planning to implement technology for this purpose in the near future. You can look forward to reading a report on this from me in the coming months. Maybe I’m biased, but I think that planning and budgeting is a great use case for social technology, that is currently being overlooked.

Before I wrap this post up, I also wanted to call attention to Epicor’s Hiring Heroes program. Epicor has announced intentions to hire 100 military veterans over the next 12 months. Not only is this a commendable campaign, but Epicor will also benefit from hiring new employees that have skills that only those in our military can achieve.

Nick Castellina 
Senior Research Analyst
Business Planning and Execution
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