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So here's what we ran into over the past week:
Microsoft apparently faces owing the Denmark treasury department nearly $1B over the purchase of a Danish software company -- Navision -- that it bought 11 years ago. The main deal here is that even though Microsoft Corp. paid taxes after the purchase, the Danish government is valuing the IP of the deal differently. More specifically the Danish tax authorities want Microsoft to pay them for a second time and the argument is that there was a premium over the fair market price that was paid at the time. Microsoft’s acquisition of Navision was also approved by 98 percent of Danish stockholders. There's also been some reports that claim Microsoft sold the rights to Navision -- now Dynamics NAV -- at below market value to a subsidiary in Ireland. But a source close to the matter noted that the sale of Navision assets in dispute concerns Microsoft corporate, and not Microsoft Ireland as it has been reported. At the end of the day, it makes for interesting water cooler discussion but probably won't end up being much of an issue for the software giant. Plus, it was a nice tax-related story for us.
Sage is back in the news too, this time concerning its channel partners. Basically in what is likely outgoing channel sales VP Tom Miller's final effort, Sage has adjusted its channel program offerings with the addition of a couple of key componants; one being access to a new product and company scoring tool for partners to use while the other is a new Market Development Fund to help fuel partner marketing efforts. The Fund is the newest endevour, which kicks in April 1 and by the end of that month will essentially replace the Partner Advantage Co-Op program, which was in place under Miller. The idea as that qualifed partners will have access to co-sponsored money to help them execute marketing campaigns. The scoring tool, officially known as the Sage Product and Company Scoring Intitative is their attempt at using "big data" to help partners identify the right tools to sell to the right customers. Miller didn't think any of his competitors were doing this for their partners, and I personally hadn't heard of data being used in this way in the SMB-focused accounting and ERP space. I am, however, willing to bet we'll see more uses for big data (i.e, the multi-terabytes of information on customer transactions and such) in a similar capacity.
Also back in the news this week is Acumatica, which is boasting its biggest product release in well over a year -- somewhat uncommon for a SaaS vendor but the company, to be fair, has been going through a fair amount of change in the past eight to 10 months. Basically they released version 4.0 of their flagship product as well as a new company logo, and updates to the website which will include more blogs among other things. The main callouts with the product are a new user interface, new fucntionality in the CRM module, and a bunch of ISV integrations. Supposedly they are already hard at work on version 4.1 which should be out by the summer. The long and short here is that it all makes sense; the executive hirings, the branding, the product upgrades. Acumatica wants to compete in what is becoming a very competitive landscape for SMB-focused accounting and ERP vendors. And, the fact of the matter is even though they're comparatively small, they are turning some heads -- particularly in the Microsoft Dynamics channel -- and I expect that will continue.
One final question I'd like to part on: is "big data" a big deal to you, your clients/customers or is it big hype? Maybe it's still to early to tell, I'd love your thoughts.