CIO Spotlight: Rich Murr, Epicor

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? "CIOs often have one of the best cross-functional understandings of how the business really works and are well-positioned to..."


Name: Rich Murr

Company: Epicor

Job title: CIO

Date started current role: June 2017

Location: Austin, TX

Rich Murr is the Chief Information Officer for Epicor, a private equity-owned cloud software provider headquartered in Austin, Texas. With over 20 years of experience in information technology, Murr has deep expertise across the entire technology spectrum, including IT architecture, software development, operations, security, and data governance.

What was your first job? My very first job as a teenager was mowing lawns in the summer and shovelling snow in the winter. After I graduated college, I was an officer in the Marine Corps for four years.

Did you always want to work in IT? When I was growing up, I wanted to be a pilot or a professional musician. When I moved to Austin to pursue music, I found my way into IT. I enjoyed the problem solving, creativity, and teamwork it required, and I'm very happy with my career in IT. (I still find time to play music in my free time!)

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I took a handful of programming classes in college, but I majored in geography.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. After the Marines, I spent a couple of years writing songs and playing guitar in a band with my brother. We had a lot of fun, but at the same time, I went back to school and also did a lot of self-study to learn about IT and software development. When the era started to boom, I worked as an IT engineer at a couple of companies in Austin. When the boom ended, I spent 7+ years with a very large retailer, eventually leading their IT operations and software development teams. I then took successive VP-level technology roles at Rackspace and Bazaarvoice before joining Epicor as its CIO. It's a rewarding career, and I'm very grateful.  

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? We’re focused on continuing to grow our Software as a Service (SaaS) business across the globe, which means we’ll be investing in cloud talent and technologies in multiple geographies. Cloud is a running theme you’ll hear and see across Epicor going forward.

We’ll also be laser focused on how we can help our customers leverage the data they have at their disposal to gain the insights they need to better serve their customer base. In 2023, we expect more companies to develop their data strategies, seeing it as integral to driving digital transformation. As a result, we anticipate an increase in hiring and valuing digital natives who understand analytics to help unlock further business value.

Driving forward a data-driven approach for our customers will create a collaborative ecosystem in which organisations can collectively share their anonymised datasets. This will allow businesses to gain a clearer picture of how they’re performing compared with industry peers and benchmark against key performance indicators (KPIs).

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? Cloud again! Our CEO and the entire leadership team are prioritising the growth of our cloud business. It’s what our customers want and need from us, and we’re diligently working to deliver it for them. At Epicor, IT is responsible for operating our global cloud 24x7, and it’s our mission to ensure our customers enjoy a SaaS experience that’s stable, can scale as their businesses grow, and is protected against cyberattacks.  

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? I think most CIOs have an opportunity to offer much more than the technical leadership typically associated with the role. CIOs often have one of the best cross-functional understandings of how the business really works and are well-positioned to lead complex business process optimisation efforts. They're also well-suited to lead digital transformations.   

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? A few years ago, I would have answered we’re working to transform from an on-premise software provider to a cloud company, but today we’re towards the tail end of that transformation. Now we’re focused on leveraging the improvements made during the transition to provide SaaS solutions for more and more customers globally. And while we certainly emphasise customer experience and revenue growth, delivering long term value for our customers and company also requires us to be cost-effective operators. I think we do a pretty good job balancing these priorities in a way that works for all stakeholders.  

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? On the qualitative side, we assess how effectively we’re partnering with our business colleagues. This is a very important measure, as a strong partnership facilitates the ideation and execution of technology projects and initiatives that improve how the business operates. On the quantitative side, we periodically benchmark our operational performance, including cost effectiveness, against industry standard metrics. And perhaps most crucially, we measure the performance of our cloud – specifically its stability, scalability, and security. 

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? At Epicor, we’re looking for people who are naturally curious, want to learn, enjoy the process of collaborating and problem solving. They shouldn’t be afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty as well as take satisfaction in the execution and delivery phases of a project. We cultivate this culture several ways: by looking for these traits in the people we hire; by ensuring leaders demonstrate these qualities and by ensuring we have an organisation that’s easy to navigate so employees can connect, collaborate, and get things done.  

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? Both security and public cloud expertise. It’s challenging to find people as skilled in back-office business processes as they are in supporting technologies.   

What's the best career advice you ever received? I've been lucky to get great advice from some really talented people over the course of my career, but I think the best advice I received was just after I was promoted to director. My colleague told me that my job would now be less about technology and more about fostering communication and collaboration and driving alignment. I wasn't so sure at the time, but it turns out she was right, and I've worked diligently to build and refine the required skills.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. I believe training all your staff to be high performers is important, and that this training should constantly be taking place. You want your team to be high performers together - a team that collaborates well, is aligned on business priorities, and is hyper focused on the tasks at hand.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Be as much a student of leadership as you are of technology. Leadership is a skillset that needs to be learned, developed, and maintained.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Winning Austin's 2019 Battle of the Bands with Cloud 9, Epicor's corporate band! We brought amateur musicians and singers together from across the company in support of a great cause - Austin's Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. I consider this a greatest achievement because it demonstrates the success of our company culture, which has experienced a marked positive shift over the past three years. Our band reflects what makes Epicor strong in day to day business. Each of our band members brings their own unique musical talents. Individually, they are skilled in their own right. But when we performed together, we were able to achieve even more. The same can be said for our Epicor team and what we are able to accomplish for our customers.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I can't think of anything I would have done differently - even the challenges I faced turned out to be learning opportunities.

What are you reading now? The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly. A good read for fans of Harry Bosch and his protégé Renee Ballard.

Most people don't know that I… Take guitar lessons with my younger daughter, and we're planning to busk this summer in downtown Austin.

In my spare time, I like to…Hang out with my wife and daughters. Exercise. Play guitar. Binge watch Netflix.

Ask me to do anything but… Eat sushi.