Key Analyst Takeaways from Epicor Insights 2019
Epicor is a truly massive company that provides ERP systems for companies of all sizes and industry verticals. For some ERP providers, an AP automation product would be lost in the magnitude of such pivotal, mission-critical software. This is not the case for DocStar, Epicor’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) product. Epicor does an impressive job of giving DocStar its own space to innovate, while still ensuring that the overarching strategy of the parent company is ingrained in everything DocStar does in product development.
True to the Mission
Epicor’s executive keynote set the tone for the conference and firmly established the charge that drives the company: “Be the cloud vendor of choice in the markets we serve”. While this seems simple enough, executing on it requires more than refreshing the product every once in a while. Becoming the true vendor of choice in any market requires not only the ability to know what their customers want and how to address those needs with technology, but the ability to anticipate what the market will want before it wants it.
“The digital revolution was bigger than the steam engine” – Epicor CEO Steve Murphy
This idea came up in a conversation with Ray Emirzian, a Senior Director of Product Management at Epicor and an instrumental leader for developing DocStar. When we shared the results of Levvel Research’s 2019 Accounts Payable Survey that indicated that organizations may not be prioritizing machine learning and artificial intelligence as much as software vendors themselves are, he wondered if just because organizations are not mentioning things like machine learning by name, they could still be asking for it without knowing it. This could be true because the pains and needs that organizations express and the capabilities they would like to have are often addressed well using AI and ML technology. This forward-thinking attitude could be connected to the high likelihood that the newly unveiled AI-based Epicor Virtual Agent (EVA) will soon make its appearance in DocStar’s solutions.
Innovation Through Feedback
DocStar’s 18.2 release is filled with exciting product updates that increase the breadth of the DocStar product. They have a partnership with DocuSign that brings in a secure electronic agreement system with review and signing capabilities that can be customized to define the signature approvals structure. They made workflow enhancements that ensure documents are always routed to the appropriate party at the appropriate time. Overall, they made updates designed to make the product easier to use on the day-to-day. Apart from the updates themselves, one of the most interesting things was how they decided which updates to pursue. DocStar uses feedback via “betterizers” where customers submit ideas on how to improve the DocStar product. There were 28 improvements based on customer feedback in the 18.2 release alone. Creating a direct line of communication with their customers on product development is one of the ways DocStar is trying to set itself apart in the market.
Beyond AP Automation
While DocStar offers a solid product in the AP automation space, they are striving to do more than just image and route invoices.They’re a content management platform and their strength is managing documents — any document. What sets them apart in this so far is their focus on providing an appealing and user-centric tool for managing these documents. If experience is the new product, Epicor is trying to create as pleasant a product as possible, and both the ERP provider and DocStar are focused on providing a wide variety of features with a clean and modern UI. Beyond the task-focused AP assignments, Epicor and DocStar want to create an “addictive interface” akin to Linkedin, Instagram, and Facebook. They know that the population entering the workforce is younger and expects the tools they use at work to mirror the tools they use for entertainment in their private lives. Epicor and DocStar hope that this experience-focused approach can boost usability, shrink training time, and increase employee satisfaction. This will be crucial to DocStar’s success, as UI/UX and ease of use are two of the top priorities of organizations evaluating back-office automation solutions.
DocStar has a product roadmap that is miles long and it will keep their development team busy for the foreseeable future. Even upon seeing all of these product updates, solution refreshes, and feature additions, size can sometimes work against innovation. Sometimes, the biggest companies have so many balls in the air that research and development across the expanse of their product offerings can be very difficult, or come off as out of touch compared to nimble, newer players. DocStar is not comfortable in resigning itself to this fate and is using their 2017 acquisition by Epicor to push forward with the ideation and simultaneous growth that they may not have had the opportunity to pursue when they were an independent company.