Cloud accounting pitches for the mid-market

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During the past few years AccountingWEB focused closely on web-based bookkeeping applications for small businesses. There’s no shame in this, as this sector is where all the action has been for most of our members. As the cloud computing revolution took off, KashFlow, FreeAgent and Xero attracting tens of thousands of UK users into online accounting.

The market for mid-range and enterprise accounting applications was slower to react, mainly because sales cycles are longer; organisations with big investments in existing programs are more reluctant to rip out and replace their accounting systems.

David Carter, who has tested many accounts packages for us in the past, recently turned his attention to mid-range cloud accounting...

Mid-market cloud contenders

 

Continued...

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Comments

Why is Sage included ....    1 thanks

JC | | Permalink

Good article - but afraid I have to question one aspect

Surely the review should be about existing mid-market products and not wanabe products not yet delivered

'.. the country’s accounting software market leader is adapting Sage 200 for Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform ..'

Whilst one could be wrong, the implication of this comment is that no product yet exists in a completed form. If 'current vapourware' is our criteria then there are a whole host of other products which could potentially fit the bill

It is massively disappointing that Sage initially refused to engage in this medium for many (10 years) when they could have greatly infleunced the initial take-up. Instead they ran legacy software rather than innovate and move forward

And now they manage to get massive pubicity for SageOne and Sage 200 despite being way behind the curve in every aspect of technology except 'marketing' - an area where they excel

Also, how come their first disasterous offering SAGELIVE seems to have been air-brushed out of every subsequent Sage article

- http://www.kashflow.com/blog/sage-live-security/

John Stokdyk's picture

Oh come on, JC...

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

For once you could take off the red mists of Sage specs and look at the context of the article.

It's all about mid-market applications, where even the rival vendors acknowledge that Sage 50 Accounts (determinedly desktop, unless you opt for a hosted version) is a serious player in the market. All of the other companies in this market know that and are specifically targeting companies that are outgrowing Sage 50.

Due to the epic length of the piece, I chopped out an interesting quote from NetSuite's Zach Nelson on the loyalty of UK users for Sage, "whatever the reason". He continued: "Obviously, it's a local company, particularly in the UK, and there's some loyalty to the product line. But I think that's starting to fade now as Sage has been unable to deliver anything cloud-based, particularly on the ERP side.  So seeing what happened in the last quarter there, I'm very excited about the Sage replacement cycle that's about to happen in that area."

With that in mind, Sage has obviously got to protect its mid-market sales pipeline, and the Sage 200 cloud version is their response. It's at a fairly advanced stage of user testing and I am still waiting to get more detail from the company about it.

Rather than giving "valuable publicity" to any particular vendor, the piece is designed to give someone looking at their options an overview of who they might realistically talk to. In terms of cloud maturity, industry penetration etc, I think the article makes it fairly obvious how Sage compares to NetSuite, SAP or the other two accounting-focused cloud systems.

Are OpenERP and OpenBravo

AlanBourke | | Permalink

... not contenders in this space?

Title of article ...

JC | | Permalink

@John Stokdyk

'.. Cloud accounting pitches for the mid-market ..'

'Red Mist' or fact? - Does Sage 200 currently operate in the Cloud or is it in development?

If not, then how many other software houses in the mid-market sector also don't operate in the Cloud, but have future expectations; so why single out a company without an existing offering for comparison against current players?

There was a very interesting article in the Times (05 May), titled 'Sage battles barbarians at the gates' - http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/Companies/article1254711.ece - indicating Sage being ripe for private equity takeover with a market value of £4bn

Quote - '.. Meanwhile, chief executive Guy Berruyer is doing his best to keep the barbarians from the gate by remaking Sage from a utility-style income stock to an exciting techie one ..'

'.. Sage has been slow to embrace the web revolution ..' - which would seem to back up my statements

So clearly Sage is generally recognised as having failed to initially engage with SaaS and also is not really a technically based organisation in the first place. Their forte is marketing and acquiring others products, which is more to do with buying market share than anything else - hence 6m users and staggeringly healthy results

Also bear in mind the much vaunted maxim of never taking the first release of anything - so Sage 200 v2 could well be some way down the line as a mature product. Again this reinforces the original post about why they were included, when a 'stable' product could well be 6-9 months away and yet is being compared with existing available products

The article makes assumptions on '.. how Sage compares to NetSuite, SAP or the other two accounting-focused cloud systems ..' which have to be based on what one is being fed by Sage, rather than practical hands on experience

and we all know that Sage is unsurpassed with their marketing - even when they released SageLive!

bencooper's picture

I agree with JC    2 thanks

bencooper | | Permalink

We work with clients to help them select the new ERP/CRM and Accounting systems for their business. Last year we carried out our first search and selection project whereby the client demanded Cloud only solutions in the long list. Previously we had always recommended our clients have at least 1 cloud offering in the long list becuase this is the way the market is headed. Most of our clients are in the traditional mid market space and as this and previous articles alude to, the market has been slow to respond and provide a cloud offering that TRULY rivals the traditional on premise options.

In carrying out a cloud only search we realised just how few options there are, but we were also amazed at how the old guard were dressing their systems up as cloud, when clearly they are not.

Sage, IRIS, Coda and SAP B1 all claimed to offer hybrid Cloud solutions but when you scratch the surface you find it to be a privately hosted traditional system, financed over 3 years - or - a series of web apps that connect to the on premise software. This is not true Cloud as the systems lack the agility that a truly web developed system offers.

Sarah Palin had a good phrase for this. "If you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig". - Not saying the old gaurd are pigs - but you get the point.

I fully accept that recoding Sage 200, SAP B1 or IRIS Exchequer (or similar) to a cloud footing is like turning a tanker on a tuppence, but surely pretending to be Cloud is harmful to the good name they have built up over many years? Rather than developing web enabled add ons and apps, I would really like to see some of the traditional on premise authors focussing on recreating their entire systems in a true Cloud environment, as the one thing the mid market Cloud lacks at the moment is competition and the full range of functionality users had come to enjoy with good old fashioned software.

nigel's picture

Still a moving target    2 thanks

nigel | | Permalink

It's interesting to see this mid-market attracting some serious cloud players. A recent newcomer not mentioned here is Xledger (http://xledger.co.uk/), which came from the founders of Agresso, so people who know this market pretty well. I say recent - they have been developing it since 2000, well established in Norway but now making inroads in the UK. I suspect they won't be the last new arrival in this end of market though.

Any bets on when Microsoft will pile in with fully cloud-based ERP?

Jo Sutton's picture

Thank-you Nigel

Jo Sutton | | Permalink

This is a very interesting article, giving an unsually clear overview of the mid-market players in the cloud accounting market. I am particularly grateful to Nigel for mentioning Xledger before I had time to add my comments!

Xledger is now expanding actively outside our home market in Scandinavia, with customers in both the UK and the US. We aim to provide more than just ERP functionality delivered by a different technical route. We also offer a number of supporting services, only possible because of the cloud infrastructure.

John - can we talk further?

Jo Sutton

mail@xledger.co.uk

 

Sage 200 Cloud

johndon68 | | Permalink

JC wrote:
Does Sage 200 currently operate in the Cloud or is it in development?

@JC - The current official release date for the cloud version of Sage 200 is 17 June 2013...

 

John

 

bencooper's picture

X Ledger

bencooper | | Permalink

Jo Sutton wrote:

This is a very interesting article, giving an unsually clear overview of the mid-market players in the cloud accounting market. I am particularly grateful to Nigel for mentioning Xledger before I had time to add my comments!

Xledger is now expanding actively outside our home market in Scandinavia, with customers in both the UK and the US. We aim to provide more than just ERP functionality delivered by a different technical route. We also offer a number of supporting services, only possible because of the cloud infrastructure.

John - can we talk further?

Jo Sutton

mail@xledger.co.uk

 

Further to my previous post, X Ledger was one of the options we looked at with our client last year and I must say it was a great addition to the process and a really nice system. It offers very good value for money and some really neat functionality.

Business Analytics

Rob Connell | | Permalink

With Smeebi currently targeting the small/ mass market end of the SMEs as a business intelligence add-on for cloud base accounting I found this interesting. Not least as we work with our parent company at the other end of the scale, the enterprise.

Enterprises ERP integrated with accounting systems often fall short of business requirements especially the FDs, well documented by Gartner, in terms of measuring and monitoring, reporting and analysis, planning and forecasting. Hence our parent company works with the likes of IBM to offer better self service reporting and query tools, planning and predictive analytics, either as add-ons to the dashboard or full solutions down to the datawarehouse. So I for one would be keen to hear what these so called mid-market accounting vendors are doing in terms of 'business intelligence' related add-ons and just how much consulting and development by the client is really needed.

Customisation.

AlanBourke | | Permalink

It also would be nice to have an in-depth overview of the possibilities these solutions offer for customisation beyond their core functionality - new modules, forms, fields etc. This ability is vital if they are to compete in this space.

Paul Holborow's picture

Spot the difference: hosted 'on-premise' v true cloud?

Paul Holborow | | Permalink

I wonder if the user would notice the difference. This is quite an interesting if not perhaps too simplistic an analysis from NetSuite to help you decide http://www.netsuite.co.uk/portal/resource/articles/true-cloud-solutions.html. Just as it's expensive for traditional on-premise software houses to now re-write their products to a true cloud platform, it's also expensive for customers to ditch their existing on-premise solution for a true cloud solution. For the moment in the mid-market space I think we will be left with both for quite a while.

Hugh Scantlebury's picture

Full review of Aqilla

Hugh Scantlebury | | Permalink

If anyone is interested you can read David Carter's full independent review of Aqilla on our website here.

> For the moment in the mid

AlanBourke | | Permalink

> For the moment in the mid-market space I think we will be left with both for quite a while.

Absolutely - due to lack of scope for customisation and the fact that as far as I can see the customer base is not really screaming out for 100% browser-based, cloud-hosted ERP. 

Hugh Scantlebury's picture

Extensibility    1 thanks

Hugh Scantlebury | | Permalink

Hi Alan, I can' speak for others but Aqilla is highly extensible in terms of adding new data entities and attributes, reports, forms, views, application gateways via the two APIs and built in workflow tools...but you're probably right, for now it's the people who want Cloud who are making the move and reaping the benefits.