Epicor being relatively new to the Indian market, on which segment will you be focussing on? Why ?
Kanaran: We have started focusing in India on the manufacturing segment, because that’s one of the (country’s) key differentiators. Our plan is to establish ourselves as a key player in the manufacturing segment in two or three years time. Then we would tap into other areas such as retail, distribution etc...
What are the opportunities and challenges for your solutions to be adopted by the manufacturing industry versus competing vendors like SAP?
Kanaran: The challenge is the (perception of) competition, because if you look at brand recall in the market, SAP is one of the better known brands in India. That is the only challenge we face. But when the customer does a proper evaluation (of our product) they do see the difference. This is when they always feel that Epicor's product is better than SAP. So when we are able to demonstrate the functionality and features of the solution, the clients see that this is the product for the future and one they can bet on for the next 15-20 years. Also, if they are a matured customer, they understand that the (associated) TCO (of our product) would be much lower than when compared to SAP.
Do you also work closely with industry associations in an industrial cluster / manufacturing SEZ zone in India for a bulk deal for their members (industries). Few ERP vendors follow this strategy?
Kanaran: Currently we are not working with the industry associations but we are now working out a strategy to get involved with these trade associations and SEZ. Some of our partners are already discussing with them because we now have references for our projects in India where we have executed implementations. We are now using those references and approaching the trade associations.
What is the future roadmap of Epicor’s manufacturing solution portfolio?
Kanaran: See the key here is that when we decided to enter this market, we looked at what the growth areas were. We found that manufacturing is one of those key sectors that we needed to focus on. We saw a lot of high tech engineering companies, where there is a skill necessity for manufacturing, entering the market. India is going to be a key hub for the majority of the American and European companies that are looking to outsource the manufacturing (process). We see this market growing in India.
Could you elaborate on your channel strategy from a general viewpoint and also from a more specific focus on the manufacturing segment? How is it developing in the Indian scenario?
Kanaran: So for our go to market strategy in India, Channel is the key focus. And that is what we are investing in, in building on that community and ecosystem within India. For us to expand in the Indian market, channel is the way to go. We are also embarking on a recruitment mode, where we are looking at partners who have the domain knowledge in sectors that we want to work in such as manufacturing etc… If you look at the last quarter alone in EMEA, we added around 21 new partners, of which around 3-4 are from India. So that’s kind of the recruitment (we are doing).
To run this channel, we have brought in one of the senior people from Microsoft in EMEA. So that is the kind of investment we are making from Epicor’s perspective - showing our commitment to bring in the right resources to run the channel in India. Moreover, from the recruitment perspective we are even looking at engaging 3rd parties to recruit partners here in India so that we can recruit and enable them (better). (Infact) We are looking at adding atleast another 30-40 partners in the country in the next 1-2 years.
What are your plans for catering to your target market in India?
Kanaran: For us, the sweetspot we are playing in India is the upper mid market and lower enterprise. So if you look at the very large enterprises, they are already invested in other systems. Now what we are looking at include the hub and spoke model, which are those companies who have already implemented a tier 1 solution for their subsidiaries and ancillaries and who would be looking at a implementing an option other than the current system they have.
There are some companies where we have executed implementations, but these are not Indian companies but foreign MNCs. They would be running a different system elsewhere, but in India they decided to use Epicor’s solution - this is the market we are focussing on.
How are you building the channel partner ecosystem to address your target segment?
Kanaran: Firstly we have come up with a partner network program called ‘Epicor Inspired Partner Network.’ We have also looked at (accordingly) classifying all our existing partners to address the various segments. We also look at what level of support and investment they require from Epicor’s perspective. From the channel team perspective, we have restructured it with additional resources to support the partners. From the customer perspective, to ensure the quality of the executed implementation, we have setup some enhanced training and certification programs for the partners - with L1, L2, L3 certifications, which Epicor University offers to the partners. We also have online portals for our partners to have access to the knowledge base. Additionally, we go to the partners who are investing in Epicor systems and we support them with marketing support including lead generation, joint marketing plans.
How does having a true SOA product help you compete in the market vis-à-vis your competitors?
Kanaran: Yes, Epicor is a true SOA product. From growth perspective, we are looking at (sustaining) YoY double digit growth in the Indian market. (Yes) Partners will see a value in selling Epicor.
One of the key differentiators for Epicor vis-a-vis other products is that the former is 100 percent SOA, which is not the case when you compare the competition. If you look at last three years of Gartner’s magic quadrant for single-instance ERP for product-centric mid-market companies, you would see Epicor has been recognized as the most visionary ERP. Consider the challenges CIOs will face in the coming years, in things such as BYOD, security & storage. Epicor is future proofed, so if a customer is looking at making an investment in it today, they can be sure that they are investing in a product that will (carry them forward) for the next 20-30 years.
The other factor to keep in mind is that today, people are looking at web based systems, systems which are more agile, flexible, and which also embrace all devices. And by devices I an referring to tablets, smartphones etc.. Now that is where Epicor 9 is ready for this market, as Epicor can run on these devices as we are platform independent, irrespective of whether the platform is Windows 8, Android, or iOS based. This is because of the rewrite we had completed earlier and the technology we are using.
How long do you think it will take for Epicor to start reaping significant benefits from the Indian market?
Kanaran: From company perspective, India is a key market, and we are investing in that market for the next 5 years in the long term and we are looking at exponential returns from 2020 - we are not looking at immediate profits. Because that’s the time we feel as a company that growth in India would be much higher than China. So we will continue to build our partners, our ecosystem, and (in turn) these partners would build their own industry verticals, micro-verticals onto the system. As a product we have the next gen ERP and we will be looking at reaping the benefits from 2020 onwards.
We established our business in 2010 in India, currently we are in the investment mode in India, focused on building the market. It is a very strategic market for us, and we see that in 5-8 years, India would be a market that would generate a good portion of our global revenue.