[IMGCAP(1)]There's a lot to try to make sense of this week, however I feel I'm better suited to offer insight into the moves companies and consultants in our space have made, rather than those of individuals in a certain Northeastern city.

I suppose that's a big part of what we do everyday, try to make sense of what is happening so we can move forward and, in a sense, that's why this publication is here. So, to get to it there was quite a bit that happened, in case you missed it here's what some of the more interesting items of the week were as well as my take on it:

News: Independent service provider Alternative Technology Solutions responded to Epicor's copyright infringement lawsuit against the company, which denies any wrongdoing. Alternative now claims it was surprised and disappointed by Epicor’s suit and finds the allegations to be unwarranted. The firm also has affirmative defenses and counterclaims as a result of Epicor’s actions since they filed. In addition, Alternative has filed a motion to dismiss several of the allegations made by Epicor.

My Take: This is a tough one so I'm just going to summarize here. Basically although Alternative is not officially a partner or a VAR for Epicor, it is an independent service provider who has represented (and profited from) Epicor's products. In fact, on its own website it states "Alternative Technology Solutions provides full implementation and technology consulting for Epicor ERP and Salesforce CRM in a variety of markets." And in its response it also claims it made money for Epicor. Meanwhile, Epicor is claiming Alternative knowingly misappropriated and misused Epicor’s intellectual property and proprietary and confidential information. They also allege that Alternative and a number of its key employees systematically violated Epicor's intellectual property, trademarks and copyrights including improperly accessing, duplicating, using, distributing, and creating derivate works of Epicor's copyrighted software and other intellectual property in violation of numerous federal and state laws. That's a pretty heavy claim and while I haven't heard of other firms accused of this activity from other vendors they represent, this case may set some president. Then again, it could just tie up the courts for months but you can bet I am staying on top of this one.

News: Online accounting software maker Xero has partnered with online payroll product ZenPayroll, aiming at small businesses to integrate ZenPayroll data directly with Xero.

My Take: So yes, Xero is back in the news again and I wouldn't expect them to go quiet any time soon. Look, when one of your prime goals is to try to take a big bite out of QuckBooks' business you are going to make a lot of noise out of every partnership you ink, every notable firm you sign on, every product enhancement and every integration you make. Payroll's a hot ticket item, and the firms that are able to offer it for little to no cost or headache to them are seeing it as either a direct profit center, or a gateway to other services they can offer their clients. Xero already has a payroll partnership with ADP and ZenPayroll being a cloud player is a natural fit. Xero's expected to sign another big payroll integration deal soon so watch for that one, in the meantime, with conference season picking up also expect to run into them quite a bit.

News: A recent survey of mid to large-sized U.S. industrial company executives found they are less interested in implementing SaaS ERP, than other methods of deployment such as a private cloud or on-premesis.

My Take: This is already causing some reader buzz but it's essentially the same argument, in that to many, cloud -- public or private -- is still cloud or cloud enough for them. Some are being pushed by cost or client/customer needs, others by competitive forces. Still others, as indicated in this report, want to see, touch, feel, taste and sleep at night knowing exactly their ERP data and programs are within their four walls. Now surveys are just that, they take a sampling of a segment of indivuduals or entities in the hopes of getting a read on an issue or trend from that group. This particular one, I feel, isn't to say all or even most mid-large industrial companies are not interested in cloud. On the contrary, I think they are but it's just a group that's going to take longer to get there and, I believe, get there they will. Some are just dipping their toe in the water, getting a taste of cloud by having some of what they need to access on a secure server somewhere. I'd say just give them time and do things piecemeal rather than going full SaaS or cloud if you will. These companies will likely find out in their own time what works best, though some would argue that not moving in this direction now will be more detrimental down the road or why wait for competitors to do it?


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