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The Tech Take

2-6-13

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Expanded offerings a plenty from the vendor and VAR community, plus a sit down and frank conversation about change with the CEO of one of the top accounting product makers are all on tap this week as well as a few other items you may not yet be aware of.

To begin with, after about a year we’re finally seeing some upgrades from AccountantsWorld, which made several key enhancements to its lead Accounting Relief product. These mainstays of cloud accounting functions are now showing users a new UI with quick access buttons, more mobile support and free access to their mobile app, as well as integration to their client portal and document management system, CyberCabinet. Glad to see some enhancements, and some news, from this vendor which has basically had cloud offerings longer than most of their competitors.

Avalara also remains on a tear as it has expanded its own offerings through yet another acquisition, this time it was exemption certificate management product maker Tax Technology Services. The move comes on the heels of its purchase of UPC taxability database UPC Matrix master, which vaulted the company deeper into the world of tax management in the retail space. As for the TTS buy, Avalara now has yet another set of databases that can scale into the millions and a product which acquires, maintains, and retains exemption and resale certificates, use tax certificates, W-9s, excise tax, and other time sensitive documents.

On to the VARs, which have been quite active this past week in adding to their portfolio, proving once more a trend that is not going away anytime soon – that being resellers which have represented the same brand or two for 20 years or more are seeing the value in other offerings as well. The short list goes like this:

  • ISM has added NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The firm is a long-time Sage partner and represents Sage ACT!, SalesLogix CRM, Sage CRM as well as 100, 500 and X3 on the ERP side.
  • Sikich also became one of the larger VARs to join the NetSuite partner family, only McGladrey and Blytheco are bigger in terms of revenue. The firm also expanded its technology consulting services by buying S2 Consulting Inc., which specializes in customizing technology solutions with a focus on electronic data interchange and comes with some ERP and IT infrastructure experts as well.
  • As a matter of fact, NetSuite announced a few other key partners this week including WAC Consulting and SD Mayer & Associates

On to other items, I had the pleasure of sitting down this week with Sage CEO Pascal Houillon during his brief visit to NYC to attend the 4th Annual SaaS Executive Roundtable. It wasn’t a deep discussion about all things Sage, but rather just his view on the massive change that is going on basically in all business technology, accounting in particular and what role accounting professional play in his company, innovation, and adoption. One key take away from that was how surprised, and I daresay disappointed, he was that accounting professionals don’t play as large of a role in Sage North America as they do in Europe, where he claims there are more products designed specifically for them. He would of course like to change this during his tenure so keep your eyes open for more on that front. Also, and probably not as much of a surprise, expect Sage’s offerings to become more cloud and mobile oriented – something he believes Sage could work on more as well.

While on the topic of Sage I did run across an item of interest to many Sage 100 partners in particular. Apparently Sage 100 partners are having some issues with Sage 100 upgrades, which were recently brought to light when one of their partners chimed in via social media about the problem.  After many more weighed in on the topic on, and offline, we were able to uncover that essentially customers may not have the ability -- once on Sage 100 2013 -- to easily run a test copy of their upgrades. 

Some partners will typically break upgrades into four stages -- install, test, live, and follow up. The issue is that during testing they will drag/drop a copy of the live system to another folder so as not to interrupt work. The only customers who would not be impacted by an inability to no longer do so in 2013 might be the smallest, non-modified customer (of which there are very few) who may  not usually get a test upgrade first anyway.

It does appear that partners are collaboratively working through the some issues by jointly using Virtual Machines hosted remotely.  But the real problem appears to be with upgrades and with those partners working with third-party solutions that they'd have to configure and host on their own.  This could drive support costs up and/or encourage consultants to find a way to keep their customers as current as possible on Sage 100 ERP.  Just something to be aware of and more on that, should it prove to be a bigger issue.

Some other items you may not be aware of, that we are officially checking in to are some key departures over at SugarCRM which reported lost – or perhaps downsized , we’re not entirely sure – several of its channel marketing staff.  Again, we’ll keep you posted should any more on this come out.

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