Suppose you are a billion dollar company and a major part of the market doesn’t know who you are. That is Best Software’s problem.

Individual product lines such as MAS 90, Abra, FAS, Peachtree and Act are much better known than the Best name. Name recognition remains its biggest problem by far.

Best got this way because its parent Sage has been on a buying binge. Sage entered this country in 1991 with the purchase of DacEasy, bought State of the Art in 1998, and Peachtree Software the next year. Early in 2000, it bought what was then called Best Software, a company that marketed the FAS fixed asset line and Abra HR products. When Sage lost a court battle for the rights to the name Sage in the United States, it adopted the name, Best Software, for operations here. That didn’t help the company’s brand recognition and coupled with the purchases of Accpac, BusinessVision, Platinum for Windows, Timberline Software, MIP, SalesLogix … you get the picture.

To underscore this, a person at a company that is considering buying accounting software said it uses FAS, but hadn’t really heard of Best, while the name Microsoft and Great Plains rang more than a few bells.

That is the problem. Right now a reseller pitching Best’s products walks into a prospects office peddling a mixture of well-known names—MAS 90, FAS, Abra—in order to sell a complete suite.

Small wonder, then, that the biggest announcements at Insights last week were moves designed to solve the name problem, along with the current lack of product integration.

Best introduced the Best Suite for six vertical industries. Over the next two years, these will get a common interface and the ability to be launched from the same platform, the Best Software Common Desktop. Integration will come from the Best Integration Framework, based on Microsoft .Net and XML standards.

Along with that with come a new approach to product names. Best is taking the recently introduced Peachtree Payroll Services, an online product, and giving it a new look so that we’ll have MAS 90 Payroll Service and Accpac Payroll Services. The style will carry over so there will also be MAS 90 HR and MAS 90 Fixed Assets.

How well the integration will work, remains to be seen. But at least Best will simplify its naming smorgasbord.

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