SMALL, MIDSIZED BUSINESSES TO FUEL ENTERPRISE MARKET: Small and midsized businesses of 100 to 500 employees will be a driving force in the growth of the enterprise software market in North America over the next two years, reports technology industry analysts Jupiter Media Metrix.

While this may spell opportunity for consultants and software vendors who serve the SMB market, Jupiter analysts advise enterprise software companies - which have historically focused on larger global businesses - to "re-think their marketing initiatives to accommodate the purchasing behavior" of smaller end users.

A recent MarketAccess survey and report by New York-based Jupiter found that SMB investments, in the next six months, will be most prominent in financial management, customer-relationship management and electronic commerce storefront solutions. "Although small companies will purchase software to simplify discrete business processes, such as accounting, the bulk of the dollars to drive the market to the next level will come from midsized businesses, which are more likely to invest in CRM and other enterprise-grade software," according to the report.

Jupiter also noted that the smaller companies are "looking for full-featured software packages that have some interconnectivity without a great deal of costly customization or integration."

TWO LEAVE SYSTEMLINK TO GO ON OWN: Two consultants to SystemLink have left that Herndon, Va.-based accounting software reseller to form their own reseller/consulting firm in Abingdon, Md.

Jeffrey Forwood, a CPA, and Steven Gutowski, experienced as a corporate controller before becoming a software consultant, have formed Ashwood Solutions, which specializes in accounting, manufacturing and customer-relationship management software products by Accpac International.

Gutowski said that he and his partner left because they felt confident they could find more success handling Accpac products on their own. He also expects his upstart firm to occasionally compete with SystemLink on Washington-area assignments.

Systemlink, named to Accounting Today's Technology Pacesetters list, handles Accpac, Best, Seagate and Brio products.

BEST NAMES NEW CFO: Best Software named Timothy Leyden, a semiconductor industry veteran, as its new vice president of finance and chief financial officer.

Leyden reports to David Butler, president and chief operating officer of Best's Mid-Market Division, which publishes MAS 90 and Best Enterprise Suite. Leyden succeeds James Eckstaedt, who was promoted to a more senior post in the organization.

Leyden has more than 25 years in the semiconductor industry and, most recently, was a principal at a management consulting firm focusing on serving technology companies. "With his wealth of knowledge in both finance and operations, and his abilities as a proven leader, Tim was the logical choice," Butler said.

MICROSOFT GETS SECURITY EXEC FROM ACCOUNTING INDUSTRY: Scott Charney, a principal for PricewaterhouseCoopers' cybercrime prevention practice, has agreed to join Microsoft Corp. as chief security strategist and part of the company's new Trustworthy Computing initiative. He will focus on developing strategies to enhance the security of Microsoft products, services and infrastructures.

Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates cited security as a focal point of his company's future development efforts in a public speech a few weeks before Charney's appointment. "Microsoft is committed to building the technology and tools customers demand for safe and secure computing and to leading the discussions necessary to move forward on critical security and privacy issues," Gates said.

ONLINE SELF-SERVICE TOOLS EMERGE: Web self-service has become an increasingly important strategic initiative for financial service institutions, according to reports from Meridien Research, of Newton, Mass.

Web self-service allows consumers to resolve a broad range of service incidents themselves using an Internet-based application. These approaches include traditional frequently-asked-question links on Web sites, search engines, knowledge bases with query front ends and virtual agents. Web self-service promises not only improved consumer service but also strong return on investment, Meridien said.

The technology consulting group estimates that overall spending for direct deployments of Web self-service applications within the 500 largest financial services institutions worldwide will grow to approximately $100 million by 2004 from around $34 million in 2001.

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