[IMGCAP(1)]New presidents, new products; overall the past week was all about the vendors topping the news and as ever I’m pleased to offer my take.

Of note over the past seven days we’ve seen a new president come in at ERP vendor Epicor, a new cloud accounting vendor enter the U.S. market by way of Australia, and expectations for a new mobile accounting application designed to work on all mobile devices.

News: Epicor Software Corp. has named Joseph L. Cowan president and chief executive, replacing Pervez Qureshi, who is stepping down to pursue new opportunities, according to the company. Along with his appointment as president and CEO, Cowan will be appointed a member of the Epicor board of directors, while Qureshi will also be stepping down from his position as a director on the Epicor board.

My Take: Oftentimes, a changing of the executive guard at a software company is perceived as a sign of disruption and major change in either product direction, market focus or some other factor affecting how the company goes to market. In this case, in all honestly, while I don’t know much about Cowan, I do know that there was a general perception that Qureshi was a transitional leader and -- again in all honesty -- that’s what he appeared to do for Epicor. He came on back in May 2011 and was put in place by the board at the time it was bought by Apax Partners and combined with Activant, where Qureshi had served as president and CEO since 2006. During his time at Epicor I think that’s what he is and will be known most for -- easing the transition of the combined companies and in the process helping grow its customer base to around 20,000 around the world. Not a bad legacy. I do wish I had a chance to speak with him more, but it seems there is a perception that Cowan has the leadership and technology business experience to help Epicor step into the next phase. Like nearly everyone in the midmarket ERP world, they have a channel to deal with, as well as pressure to become more cloud- and mobile-friendly. Let’s see how he does.

News: Australia-based Gem Accounts has launched a U.S. version of its midmarket-focused cloud accounting product, with plans to staff a newly opened office in San Francisco. Gem Accounts claims to be targeting midsized to large businesses interested in replacing their desktop accounting systems with a cloud product, or perhaps upgrading from existing small-business cloud accounting products. The U.S. version of Gem Accounts features inventory management, full quote to cash workflows, purchase orders, standard U.S. chart of accounts, and a flexible payroll system.

My Take: So who exactly are these guys now, you may be asking? Well, for one they haven’t been around nearly as long as their neighbors MYOB or even Xero -- in fact, they really only just hit the market earlier this year, but they have offices now in Australia, New Zealand, London and most recently San Francisco -- oddly enough where Xero set up about two years ago.

Now let’s be fair, while it’s still very, very early days for Gem Accounts, it doesn’t appear they are another Xero despite having both “cloud” and “accounting” in their description. In fact -- so they claim -- they see themselves playing more in the midmarket, and as the next step from products like Xero, Wave, Kashoo, and even QuickBooks Online and MYOBlive. So, in essence, Gem is more in line with the likes of Intacct or NetSuite. But we could split hairs, and maybe we should, but it wouldn’t deny the fact that the world of “cloud accounting” is not only becoming more crowded, it’s a bit more confusing and -- in and of itself -- cloudy. At this point I can only share with you what they claim, and that’s that they look to be a big player here. They want to establish a channel of both accountant partners and resellers; and compete on the same level as some of the aforementioned companies. They say they hope to have their San Francisco office more fully staffed by the end of the month, as well. Personally, the way thing are moving in the existing cloud accounting market, I think they need to act fast because you have players who have been doing this for far longer and are only just now getting serious attention. This isn’t to say there’s no room for them; in fact they are counting on -- in their minds -- filing the holes some of the others are leaving behind, particularly in the desktop or desktop to cloud world. We’ll see.

News: AccountMate Software Corp. plans to release AccountMate Everywhere Mobile, a mobile application designed for all tablets, laptops and smartphones by the end of this year. AccountMate Everywhere Mobile will work with the AccountMate installed data and be released with pre-developed applications, as well as customized reports for field sales, field service, convention sales, management, and off-site location managers.

My Take: These guys have been around quite a long time and I’m always pleased to hear from them and that they are, for the most part, keeping pace. If you have business software of any kind, chances are you have or are developing a mobile component, and what is interesting here is that rather than coming out with an iPad/iPhone version first and Android and Windows months or even a year later (yes, it happens), AccountMate is bucking the trend. I often wonder why developers choose one platform over another, particularly in the case of iOS, which is not the dominant platform. There are still far more Android devices on the market, but apps are often developed for that platform later. In short, I like that AccountMate -- though somewhat late to the mobile app game in its space -- decided to roll out an app to work on all devices. For sure we’ll be seeing more mobile apps in the business solutions space, likely developed even faster. I’m now waiting on the first business apps for the smartwatch.

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