Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to interview Andy Coussins, Senior Vice President and Head of International Sales, Epicor Software Corporation regarding Epicor’s achievements for 2018, the company’s aims for 2019 and the trends that will shape the industry next year.
1. Can you sum up Epicor’s focus and achievements in 2018?
Globally, we had a good year in 2018, and we expect the momentum to continue next year. One of our major achievements in 2018 was our announcement of an expanded strategic partnership with Microsoft that allowed us to deliver enterprise-class solutions globally in the public cloud leveraging the Microsoft Azure platform. For customers, choosing Azure means more reliability, faster access to innovation, less disruption, greater ability to scale, and higher performance. Running Epicor ERP on the world’s most trusted cloud platform makes it even easier to focus on driving business growth.
We have also had two updates to Epicor ERP this year. The latest version of Epicor ERP supports omnichannel commerce strategy for manufacturers and dealers, and Epicor Kinetic Design is a three-pronged common cross-platform user experience (UX) framework.
2. What are your expectations on the regional economy in 2019?
I believe we will continue to see companies expanding their operations, particularly in Southeast Asia, where a higher growth path can be expected for 2019. This is coupled with the strong economic integration through the continued focus and commitment of the ASEAN nations to the AEC Blueprint which is aimed towards achieving the vision of having a highly integrated and cohesive economy by 2025.
I also see the expansion of the digital economy in this region particularly around the convergence of communication networks and increased connectivity of devices. The increased use of ICT in manufacturing and services will continue to be a big enabler of growth and that will help boost the economy of the region.
3. What business trends in Asia capture your interest for growth next year?
Asia, and particularly Southeast Asia, plays a very important role in the global economic landscape. The region is expected to become even more competitive as an industrial centre with deeper regional economic integration. This will be brought about by the ASEAN Economic Community focus on increasing trade and investment, integrating MSMEs in global value chains, and developing an innovation-driven economy.
The focus on digitisation, especially for manufacturers, in this region will be an opportunity for all. About 40 percent of the industrial companies in Southeast Asia rate their level of digitisation as high – it is believed that this will rise to 69 percent in the next five years.
Coupled with fast moving global markets, Southeast Asian manufacturers need to respond quickly to changing demands to maximise new market opportunities. Our product vision is designed to drive industry forward with an intelligent business platform primed for global customers to embrace cloud, IoT, mobility, and predictive analytics—likewise, we strive to be ahead of the curve on trends like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and machine learning, so we can help our customers embrace them when they are ready.
The unique strengths of the Epicor industry-specific ERP platforms are underpinned by a modern service fabric and topped with cross-platform applications that enable our customers to achieve digital transformation and raise the bar for automation, analytics, and customer experience.
Innovative ERP solutions, combined with Industry 4.0 developments, are already helping to automate production lines, streamline supply chains, and provide the intelligent data manufacturers and distributors need to react quickly to changing consumer demands. One example include what Epicor customer Cladtek Singapore is doing to embrace these trends.
4. What do you think is the key industry trend to watch out for 2019?
Manufacturers in Asia, and mainly in Southeast Asia, are beginning to understand the business imperative of the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as artificial intelligence and data science. Done right, Industry 4.0 will enable them to improve efficiencies whilst reducing costs.
By 2020, there will be 30 billion connected devices on earth. This is leading to a Big Data mountain growing beyond recognition. Machines communicating with people—and other machines—are creating so much data that we have generated more in the past two years than in the previous 5,000 years of human history.
5. What potential and opportunity do you see in the industry next year?
There’s solid proof that prioritising technology will help businesses grow. This year, Epicor delivered its second Global Growth Index, and discovered that around the globe, manufacturing businesses are showing healthy signs of growth.
- 69 percent of companies said they’d experienced growth in sales/turnover in FY18
- 64 percent said they’d experienced growth in their product range in FY18
- 71 percent said they’d experienced growth in profits in FY18
- 67 percent said they are experiencing growth in exports/overseas sales in FY18
- 50 percent said they’d experienced growth in their workforce in FY18
- 67 percent said they’d experienced growth in geographic coverage in FY18
The report also showed 2018 saw up to 3.7 percent year-on-year business growth worldwide. Global growth rates were impressive—with the proportion of businesses that have reported an increase in their sales/turnover up five percent, and with three percent more businesses experiencing profit growth, as well as product range growth, compared with the previous year.
Overall, more than a third (36 percent) of all businesses agree that investment in IT is a high priority. But interestingly, the prioritisation of technology investment, when comparing companies with high and weak growth, differs starkly—the figure rises to 57 percent among those experiencing strong growth, but drops to just 20 percent among companies with weak growth. It is therefore conclusive that, per the results of the Global Growth Index, companies that consider technology investment as critical to their strategic growth are reaping the benefits.
Technology is, after all, crucial to overall business growth in the manufacturing sector because it provides leaders with vital insight into their business operations, enabling them to make better decisions faster. Technology can also automate otherwise manual tasks, freeing up employee time—valuable to a growing company with a stretched workforce.
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