Acctrak 21 Makes Big Accounting Industry Hires: The Australian-based accounting and business management software developer AccTrak, in an aggressive push into the U.S. market, has added some key talent from the accounting industry -- Michael Dickson, chairman-elect of the Ohio Society of CPAs, and David Bergstein, former key accounts manager for Practitioners Publishing Co., developer of software and other tools for accounting professionals.

Dickson was named senior vice president of AccTrak’s U.S. unit, AccTrak 21-USA, and Bergstein is its sales and marketing vice president. They join chief executive Wayne Harding, who joined AccTrak last year from industry portal CPA2Biz, where he was senior director of channel development. Bergstein also worked at CPA2Biz before joining PPC, which is a Thomson business.

"We’re excited to have the outstanding caliber of technology skills and understanding of the CPA profession that both Mike and Dave bring," said Harding. "Since we are partnering with CPA firms, it is important to have people that understand the CPA and play leading roles in the CPA community."

Macdonald Consulting Expands Into Sunshine State: Macdonald Consulting Group, an Atlanta-based reseller of products by Best Software and Microsoft Business Solutions, has re-entered the Florida market by acquiring Tampa, Fla.-based Owens, Sasser, & Associates.

OSA handles Best’s Abra line, human resources products not previously handled by Macdonald. Both companies are long-time resellers of Best’s MAS 90 and MAS 200 accounting software. OSA president Mike Augello has been named principal and director of Macdonald’s new Tampa office. He will be "very involved in business development" in the Tampa area and in planning for all of Macdonald, said Macdonald president Ruth Menter.

The acquisition returns Macdonald to a market that it left when it closed a training center in Orlando in 2001.

CRM Requires End-User Buy-In: Customer relationship management software implementers must take extra steps to win the confidence of the systems’ end users, according to technology industry analysts AMR Research

"Even in premiere vendor reference accounts, 47 percent of companies reported serious challenges with end-user adoption that often put [CRM] projects in jeopardy," Boston-based AMR found in a survey of companies with recent implementations.

To increase the odds for success, AMR warns buyers to "plan their implementations from the individual end user up" and advises resellers to take more responsibility in ensuring that the systems make end users more productive. AMR’s report, "CRM: Inflicting Pain or Profit?," said the most common causes of adoption problems include a lack of executive-level commitment, and end users finding that they "can continue to meet their goals and objectives without ever touching the system."

Businesses Join Forces To Promote Rural Broadband: A group of technology companies, Internet service providers and utility services have joined forces to create the Rural Broadband Coalition, dedicated to helping deploy broadband Internet access to rural America.

Rural America is under-served by the Internet even though it accounts for nearly 25 percent of the population and 75 percent of the nation’s land mass, the Alexandria, Va.-based national organization noted in its launch. "Large parts of rural America are losing out on jobs, economic development and civic participation because of inadequate access to the Internet," says a message on the RBC’s Web site.

The RBC has just five members, but its founder Damian Kunko noted, "Hey, we just started up." In addition to tech companies, ISPs and utility services, he hopes to also attract local governments as members.

Plenty of money is at hand to help the cause. The RBC’s Web site notes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service has announced a $2 billion dollar grant and loan program to help fund the deployment of rural broadband.

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