Sramana Mitra: I’m going to ask the previous question a slightly different way and see if I get a different answer from you. If you were starting a new company in vertical cloud, what would you start? What might be an are where you would dig to find an opportunity?
Himanshu Palsule: Let me step back and say this. Most providers, Epicor included, rely on the ecosystem to complete that last mile from the customer’s office into the cloud. While cloud has been able to outsource a lot of the complexity from the business, the services area still remains a premium. We’ve seen cloud services revenue go up in some of the research I’ve looked at even as more and more costs are being driven down. If I were starting a company or advising someone to start a company, I would look at the services arena. It could be consulting services. It could be web services.
If I was to write a small mobile application, it would be in the areas of mobile distribution where you have companies that have a fleet of trucks spread across the country. Epicor ERP is keeping track of all the logistics but then I need a quick way to find out if I should go with DHL or FedEx to get the maximum discount on a certain shipment. If I were a small business that is able to aggregate the shipping data and be able to integrate that into ERP, all of a sudden, I’ve created a premium for customers who don’t have the ability to do that.
Examples that come to my mind of cloud services are tax services, workflow, the whole supply chain of e-commerce. There’s a whole area in payments whether you want to be a merchant or a gateway. There’s still a lot of these micro services that an ERP wouldn’t necessarily be able to solve for everyone.
Sramana Mitra: You have an ecosystem of partners who work with you to provide some of these missing pieces and blocks into your verticals.
Himanshu Palsule: We do. They typically fall into two groups. We have the very large ones or we have the small companies with 5 or 10 employees who’ve built a little field service app. As we look at 2017, it’s an area where we’re going to expand to. I was a CTO at Sage before I joined here. We had thousands of these small businesses who would complete that last mile.
We do have a program. We do have an ecosystem. When we have our annual customer conference, there are about 100 to 200 of these in the exhibit area. That’s exactly what they do. They’re either providing advice to customers, providing value-added services, or building little products to complete that last mile from where an ERP would stop.
Sramana Mitra: Very interesting. I know you follow my writings. Did you read a recent piece on Zoho?
Himanshu Palsule: Yes, you interviewed their CEO.
Sramana Mitra: I’ve known him for a very long time and he’s a very good thinker. Did you read the last cloud computing piece I did with Sridhar Vembu?
Himanshu Palsule: I read the recent one. You asked him four or five questions.