Epicor Software’s Internet Component Environment (ICE) will make its debut with the late June release of Epicor for Service Enterprises, an enterprise service automation (ESA) suite for mid-market applications. The ICE platform, which incorporates Microsoft’s .NET architecture, is designed to make management and modification of the new application easier.
Epicor for Service Enterprises is the first end-to-end ESA application for services organizations based completely on XML Web technology and the .NET framework, Scott Smith, senior product marketing manager for Epicor’s Enterprise Group, told CRM Buyer. Because the offering was built from the ground up for .NET, it can be easily and cost-effectively customized, he added. “As you need more capacity, you can continually add Web services.”
Epicor is ahead of the game in adopting .NET for its ESA offering, Aberdeen Group research director David Hofferberth told CRM Buyer, adding that the company’s future offerings will be built on that framework. “Eventually, everyone will follow in that direction,” he said.
The ICE platform, built using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and running on top of the Microsoft .NET framework, will allow customers to develop additional features and applications with the same toolset used to create the company’s new products, Smith said. In this way, ICE will simplify application-to-application connectivity in an organization.
Pieces of ICE
In technical terms, the ICE platform introduces the concept of “solution assembly,” which enables creation of self-describing, granular business components that connect seamlessly to provide sophisticated application functionality backed by an open XML API, Smith said. This new framework enables users to model business rules and extend or customize the application without touching source code.
In addition, ICE’s business process management (BPM) technology promises to help automate and streamline processes. For example, BPM Director can be used to define how an application interacts with a business and allows revision of business rules as an enterprise grows.
ICE Adaptive Designer, an application-development and code-generation environment for XML Web services, features an application-development tool that interacts with Web services and streamlines creation of user-interface applications for Web browsers, PDAs or other smart devices.
Epicor ICE costs approximately US$25,000. Prices for Epicor for Service Enterprises range from $10,000 to $50,000 for servers and average $500 per user.
Icing on the Cake
Although the ICE framework is a differentiator for Epicor for Service Enterprise, the company is already a strong player in the ESA field, Hofferberth said. “I know only about 10 companies that do what they do — end-to-end solutions,” he said. “I know about 70 companies that do some of what they do.”
Epicor for Services Enterprises supports the services lifecycle from prospect, to bid, to customer engagement, to successful service delivery and performance analysis. The suite’s features include opportunity and bid management, project engagement and delivery management, project accounting, billing and collections, sourcing and procurement, financial management, forecasting, planning and analytics. Its business intelligence capabilities help provide greater visibility to the portfolio, and knowledge management features help facilitate project collaboration.
The software is well designed and easy to use, according to Monica Barron, research director at AMR Research. “It represents a trend away from the functional silo,” she told CRM Buyer. “Users want to access information without worrying about which module it is in.”