Everest Software’s Edwin Miller: Choice in ERP for Small Businesses

Everest Software was founded in 1994 (back then it was named iCode). Having been in business for over 10 years, it’s a mature company and has seen its market for traditional ERP or business management solutions for small – medium sized companies evolve.
President and CEO Edwin Miller gives his perspective on the market place, the competition, Everest customers and more in this interview.
There’s a lot of industry buzz about NetSuite, Salesforce.com, Microsoft CRM and SAP where does Everest stand compared to these companies?

Most of this media hype centers around claims of superior functionality, cost savings, security or other benefits for small and medium-sized businesses, with little hard evidence to support them. Each of these companies argue that they offer the best combination of these features at the best price for SMBs. Salesforce.com and NetSuite have been particularly successful in selling hosted CRM to divisions of larger companies, and ecommerce to smaller companies. However, the SMBs we serve doing as little as $5 million to as much as $80 million in sales are running their ERP both on-site and accessing it on a hosted basis. The bottom-line for our customers is therefore preserving control and flexibility over their system, regardless of where it may be housed. We give them that choice.
For their part, both Microsoft and SAP have simply scaled back the functionality of their existing enterprise offerings in an effort to make them attractive to SMBs, with limited success. Everest, in contrast, is exclusively focused on meeting the comprehensive business management solution needs of growing SMBs in manufacturing and wholesale distribution. As such, we offer a “Business Operating System” of fully-integrated front- and back-office applications that support these companies as they move from traditional retail to ecommerce.
How has the evolution of SaaS affected Everest – which, like Microsoft and other companies has traditionally been a software company?
Most of our larger competitors quickly jumped on the SaaS bandwagon, assuming that this was the natural evolution of commercial-off-the-shelf software and that SMBs would therefore demand it. While we offer our solutions on a hosted basis, we also continue to provide it for many customers preferring to have it on-premise for reasons of security, data integrity or otherwise. In fact, it’s this flexibility that has been a major catalyst for our rapid growth, and we have recently invested significant additional resources in our managed services business, due largely to increasing customer demand.
There are so many choices for integrated solutions in the small business space, why should small-medium sized businesses consider Everest?
Unlike the larger ERP providers trying to move down-market, Everest is exclusively focused on serving the diverse Business Operating System needs of SMBs. Beyond providing superior ease of implementation and return on investment, along with a lower total cost of ownership, our newest version of Everest Advanced offers significant eCommerce enhancements and features catering to the unique needs of our customers in key vertical industries. Apparel, footwear and sporting goods is the first such “micromarket” version we have introduced, and we currently plan to add other key segments based on customer demand.
CRM and Business Intelligence – how important are these for businesses and what in particular does Everest offer in these regards?
Our SMB customers have told us that both CRM and BI remain mission-critical applications, especially for those moving their storefront to the web. BI can be presented in various graphical formats including bar graphs, pie charts, or lists and a dashboard can be conveniently accessed either within Everest Advanced or remotely via a secure Web browser. Customers can click on the graphics to drill down for further detail and email any dashboard screen layout to others in their company from within the dashboard. For example, if they want to track sales metrics, they can slice and dice data to reflect key performance indicators such as top selling products, salesperson productivity, net sales by month, etc.
As to CRM, Everest Advanced comes with a built-in Business Activity Monitoring feature that provides real-time access to critical business information, prompting quick and effective responses to customers. It can be configured to automatically trigger email alerts to individuals or groups of employees, vendors/partners, and customers whenever any business activity occurs or threshold metric is reached.
Our CRM Studio option can be configured to check for events that customers want to track beyond Business Activity Monitoring. Once configured, it will not only automatically notify the appropriate staff for further action, but also update applications with timely data. CRM. It also generates frequently needed reports and helps you track who got what information, when, and by what means. You can make better decisions by monitoring events you didn’t have time for before, increase customer satisfaction by responding to their problems faster, and save time by having reports automatically delivered across your business.
Google is quickly evolving as a challenger to “Microsoft” (as the media likes to play it) and Microsoft is slowly emerging with its SaaS strategy. Is there more to this picture than appears to be simply between a born hosted app company and a traditional software vendor? Or, is it pretty much that simple?
Over the last couple of years, Google has proven itself to be a far more nimble, innovative and opportunistic competitor that Microsoft. Until recently, Microsoft was slow to recognize and respond to Google’s successful execution of an aggressive business strategy that it was once known for itself. While this convergence of software, content and commerce is nothing new, it does provide a wake-up call to those few other technology companies whom may not have accurately read the tea leaves. At Everest, we identified and responded to this trend early on, and have built strong relationships with eBay, Google, Amazon and other major web players offering eCommerce-related capabilities that will benefit our customers as they grow their online business.