CLIFTON GUNDERSON BRANDS TECH PRACTICE: Clifton Gunderson, one of the nation’s 20 largest CPA firms, has combined its national technology consulting operations under one umbrella organization, Clifton Gunderson Technology Solutions.

The new unit is a byproduct of the firm’s ability to expand its technology skills through multiple acquisitions and mergers with other technology consulting firms in recent years. “We are offering services nearly every client needs. This way we can offer the best packages of services with complete confidence in our quality,” said chief technology officer Matt Camden.

Separately, the CPA firm announced the merger of its technology practice with Network Technology Solutions Inc. of Madison, Wis. That deal gives CG a technology consulting presence throughout Wisconsin.

BIG MICROSOFT RESELLER GETS BIGGER: Altara, one of Microsoft Business Solutions’ largest resellers, has added offices in St. Louis and Dallas.

The Dallas office, led by Duane Connor, who has been named president of Altara Southwest, will focus on providing MBS’s Great Plains, Solomon, Axapta and Microsoft Customer Relationship Management lines. The St. Louis office, managed by Curtis Anderson, will focus on CRM and unspecified MBS accounting and financial management solutions.

Altara, whose main offices are in Sacramento, Calif., and Cedar Knolls, N.J., now has 90 professionals in seven office locations, and over 700 customers. Its customers range from single-person offices to global enterprises with annual revenues in excess of $6 billion.

INTACCT ADDS PAYROLL FROM PAYMAXX: Online accounting solutions developer Intacct Corp. has added payroll to its applications offerings under an alliance with payroll processor PayMaxx Inc. Intacct will co-market PayLoad Suite, PayMaxx’s PC-based payroll system, and its Internet-based payroll and tax filing service PowerPayroll. Intacct said that PayMaxx is the sixth largest provider of payroll outsourcing services, and that it serves all 50 states.

Intacct provides a suite of small and midsized business management applications through a channel of about 350 accounting professionals, who utilize the suite’s Internet platform to also provide accounting, auditing and related services to their Intacct clients. “PayMaxx fits very naturally into the Intacct suite of services,” said chief executive David Thomas.

MBS ONE OF THE FEW RECEPTIVE TO WEB-BASED PROSPECTS: Microsoft Business Solutions is leading a reluctant field of technology companies in responding to prospects that make Web site inquiries, according to Boston-based technology industry watcher Summit Strategies.

Less than one third of the vendors responded to Web-based requests for sales callbacks, according to a Summit study, which described the vendors that failed to respond as a “Who’s Who” of the IT industry. The list included Hewlett-Packard, Dell Computer, EMC and Computer Associates.

Microsoft and its Great Plains unit are setting the pace among those that do respond. “Microsoft is the only company that covered all of its bases by responding in less than one hour with an e-mail linking us to a personal buying page; calling us within two hours; and then reaching out four more times over the next nine days,” said Marty Gruhn, a Summit practice director.

Other vendors discourage Web-based prospects through a variety of means. Gruhn noted that they typically hide their Contact Us and Request More Information forms; expect visitors to complete multiple forms when looking for an integrated solution; ask a mind-boggling array of questions; and play hide-and-seek with their privacy policies. He added, “Then they either ignore qualified prospects completely, or call them back so late that prospects must wonder whether the vendor is really interested in their business.”

- Compiled by John M. Covaleski

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