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Epicor Discussion Day Archive - 06/05/2002

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Epicor Discussion Day Archive - 06/05/2002

Author: searchCRM
Subject: Discussion Day June 5th with Epicor
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

Join us all day today, June 5th, for a discussion with Doug Berry, VP and General Manager of Epicor's Clientele Group. Doug will be monitoring this discussion board throughout the day, responding to your questions and comments. This is your chance to get answers to your most important Peicor or CRM-related questions, so post them now.

Doug Berry
Doug Berry joined Epicor Software Corporation in 1997 and brings over 20 years of sales and marketing expertise to the company, in addition to a decade of management experience. In his current role as vice president and general manager of the Clientele Group, Berry is responsible for sales, marketing, development, professional services and customer support for Clientele, Epicor's customer relationship management software solution for small to mid-size enterprises. During his tenure the Clientele Group has produced a number of significant product releases, increased brand awareness, and has experienced global sales growth. Prior to leading the Clientele Group, Berry served as a regional sales director for Epicor, as well as other sales leadership roles within Epicor. Before to joining Epicor, Berry was vice president of sales & marketing for Decision Point Systems. He also managed western regional sales for the Coaxis Corporation, where he consistently produced

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strong results within the mid- and tier-one markets. Berry obtained his undergraduate degree form Indiana University. He attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where he served as a lecturer and researcher.

Author: searchCRM
Subject: Epicor, .NET and Web services
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

As many of us have read in recent weeks, Epicor has announced that it has the first CRM solution built for the Microsoft .NET platform. To what extent have Web services been utilized in this new release?

Posted in response to: Epicor, .NET and Web services
Author: BerryEPICOR
Subject: Re: Epicor, .NET and Web services
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

Epicor just announced the release of Clientele Customer Support v8.0, which has been re-built from the ground up with native web services from end-to-end to utilize the many inherent and compelling advantages of the .NET architecture. Clientele Customer Support v8.0 provides a new level of accessibility, extensibility and integration capabilities for our customers.

Author: searchCRM
Subject: .NET advantages
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

What advantages does .NET provide over Epicor's former client/server architecture?

Posted in response to: .NET advantages
Author: BerryEPICOR
Subject: Re: .NET advantages
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

There are several benefits to be taken advantage of with the new .NET architecture. Three of them would be consolidation of services, easier integration with new and existing applications, and low total cost of ownership.

Posted in response to: Re: .NET advantages
Author: sweeneygroup
Subject: .Net Advantages
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

I don't want to sound like a pessimist, but software vendors seem to always offer the same justification for every product launch or upgrade -- Essentially: Cheaper, Easier, Better (frequently disguised as "lower total cost of ownership" or "strong ROI"). Can you give a couple of strong, concrete examples of .Net advantages with respect to Epicor? (Something that would "hit home" in the boardroom.) Thanks!

Posted in response to: .Net Advantages
Author: BerryEPICOR
Subject: Re: .NET Advantages
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

First, I hope that each time a software vendor does a new product launch or upgrade that the product does do at least one of the three: better, cheaper, easier - if it doesn't the vendor should be asking why do the release at all!

Having said that, we do believe that Microsoft's .NET platform does provide tangible benefits for our customers as they move to the version of our product that uses that architecture.

First, .NET allowed us to build rich windows client (smart client in Microsoft's vernacular) that uses the Internet to talk to our web services that run business logic and serve up the data. This allowed us to create a user interface that is easy to use and whose design is based on our past 10 years of customer experience, while adding the ability to access data remotely via a WAN or the Internet (or an Intranet or Extranet). This is an easier in terms of access and deployment.

Second, by using .NET we are doing our development in Visual Studio.NET and our customers will be able to customize in the environment also. By allowing our customers to use VS.NET to customize we believe we get a triple on cheaper, easier, better. Employees who can program using VS.NET will be easy to find and less expensive to employ than developers with skills in proprietary toolsets. It will be easier to customize than ever using this standard toolset and customization will be better because the model of customization provided by .NET allows customers to customize while also enabling Clientele to upgrade customers without overwriting customizations and both Epicor updates and customizations are automatically deployed to all clients at login time (this is the reduced deployment cost I mentioned above).

Third, because Clientele's target audience is small and medium sized businesses we believe that the server hardware required to deploy our solution should be kept to a minimum. With our .NET architecture we will enable customers to deploy our web services, IIS (required), SQL Server (required), the customer database and our self-service portal all on the same server box for supporting up to 50 concurrent users. Our testing has shown we will meet and possibly exceed this goal.

There are other advantages we believe building our application on Microsoft's .NET platform provides, but in the interest of not creating a white paper in this forum I'll stop with these three!! Thanks for the question.

Author: searchCRM
Subject: concerned about Microsoft?
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

Is Epicor concerned about Microsoft's presence in the CRM market?

Posted in response to: concerned about Microsoft?
Author: BerryEPICOR
Subject: Re: concerned about Microsoft?
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

No. Epicor has been a partner of Microsoft's for years and recently earned MS Global Gold Partner status. In recent meetings with industry analysts Microsoft was acknowledged as being a colleague, not a threat to Epicor.

Author: HJ3838
Subject: data synchronization
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

How does Epicor deal with data synchronization issues, between different office sites, and remote workers?

Posted in response to: data synchronization
Author: BerryEPICOR
Subject: Data Synchronization
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

Epicor's Clientele offers its own data synchronization product called Connector. It is designed to manage data slicing for specific territories, lines of business or other metrics allowing a remote worker to sync the data relevant to them. Additionally Connector can sync the entire database between office sites so all customer data is shared. The synchronization process only sends changes between sites and is bi-directional. Connector will work in a variety of connection environments includes via a LAN, WAN or the public Internet.

Author: JSCOTT
Subject: Epicor's plans?
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

What are Epicor's plan in the wireless area and do you think this is the next big step for CRM?

Posted in response to: Epicor's plans?
Author: BerryEPICOR
Subject: Re: Epicor's Plans? (wireless)
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

As Clientele moves to the .NET architecture we will embrace the .NET concept of information access anywhere, anytime, via multiple devices.

Because our new architecture is based on web services we will be able to produce new interfaces, on handheld and wireless devices, that reuse existing web services to serve up data to the device. This is just one example of how Clientele will be able to link to multiple applications and devices and was a driving motivator behind our move to .NET.

I am not convinced that wireless is the next big thing in CRM. First, there are currently serious security limitations in passing confidential information about customers via wireless devices. Second, while some facilities, such as Seattle's SeaTac Airport, have the infrastructure to support wireless devices there is still much to be done to support ubiquitous wireless access. Third, our customers tell us that they are still uncertain about what information should be served up via wireless devices. While basic data information and similar customer related information may be useful it seems that more complex customer interactions may not be manageable on small appliances like handhelds and cell phones.

Author: FiFi26
Subject: Knowlege Management
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

Does Epicor do anything with Knowledge Management currently, or do you have any future plans in that area?

Posted in response to: Knowlege Management
Author: BerryEPICOR
Subject: Re: Knowledge Management
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

Clientele's Answerbook feature provides knowledge management for customer support and service organizations by recording answers to questions and allowing those to be searched. This feature allows for the building of multiple libraries of Answerbooks for various lines of business, products, versions, et al. In addition, we provide a competitive database feature that allows sales and marketing to record, track and share information about competitors, their products, pricing and other relevant information from both published and field sources.

Author: HJ3838
Subject: Integration
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

What are the costs associated with integration?

Posted in response to: Integration
Author: BerryEPICOR
Subject: Re: What are the costs associated with integration?
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

One of the reasons we chose to re-architect Clientele on the .NET Platform and using web services was to improve our ability to integrate Clientele with other enterprise applications at a lower cost. Costs for integration are related a set of factors.

First, internal business reviews need to occur to determine what information should be shared. This step is often overlooked when determining integration costs. However, not doing that can lead to failure of the integration project.

Second, determining the nature of the integration - is the integration to be a batch process or real-time?

Third, managing the upgrade schedules for two integrated applications will add to the cost of integration as changes to each system may also require changes to the integration components.

Fourth, disparate technologies can make integration more complicated and as a result more expensive.

Fifth, there is the cost of creating the integration (maintenance could be a sixth cost factor).

Web services help reduce these costs in a variety of ways. The first factor is not changed by technology, but is effected by the knowledge and expertise of the vendors helping you integrate.

For the second factor, web services, bring down the costs of real-time integration (which is usually preferred but has been notoriously expensive to build).

Web Services and the XML that carries the data can help with the third factor - upgrades, by introducing a layer which is usually not changed from version to version (New XML tags won't effect the integration either). Web Services interfaces can remain the same while underlying functionality changes.

The fourth factor may be where web services really shines. Web services use XML to transmit data - so data formats are not a problem. Web Services interactions are independent from operating system and languages they run on - so a Java-based web service running on UNIX can talk to a C# web services running on Windows.

As web services become more common the last factor - cost of building integration - will be effected the most. Integrating web services is much easier than talking to API's or using COM or CORBA to create integration. We believe that most enterprise application software vendors will be creating web service layers to make integration with their applications easier.

Hope this helps!

Author: searchCRM
Subject: Importance of customization
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

Plenty of people maintain that customization can be the element that makes or breaks the implementation of a CRM product. What's your opinion?

Posted in response to: Importance of customization
Author: BerryEPICOR
Subject: Re: Importance of customization
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

No two enterprises are alike. It's important to identify specific needs and objectives before selecting a CRM solution, and flexibility is a must. You don't want a product so stripped down that it requires weeks of customization and professional services fees. With Clientele by Epicor, while customization possibilities are nearly limitless, often little customization is needed since the product is very thorough even out of the box.

Author: ImFromMissouri
Subject: Offline Mechanism
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

I understand that when I reconnect all my changes are unloaded. But what about changes that happened on the server as a result of colleagues work? How do I get their changes and what happens if there are conflicts? Lastly, when I am disconnected, where is the offline data stored on my laptop - in a database, a text file?

Posted in response to: Offline Mechanism
Author: MoellenhoffSALESFORCE
Subject: Re: Offline Mechanism
Date Posted: 06/05/2002

When you synchonize with the server, data flows in both directions -- data you changed while offline is submitted to the server, and the server sends changes that other made to you. In the event of conflicts, you receive a popup warning you that they occurred, and are prompted to go to the resolve conflict section of the app. When resolving conflicts, you can see both your local version and the server's version of the data, and choose which one is correct. The data on your laptop is stored in an XML formatted text file.

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