Advanced reveals business roadmap
Following its annual customer conference, Advanced World 2015, in London last week Robert Lovell finds out what’s coming next for the company’s business customers.
Following the Vista Equity Partners acquisition back in March, Simon Fowler, the managing director of Advanced Business Solutions, said it now feels like the company has the resources behind it to become a global player in business software.
Fowler has since found out that despite Vista’s extensive global portfolio of software and technology businesses, it takes a consultative approach. Since March the new backer has been helping not just with investment, but also with Advanced’s business planning.
“I was pleasantly surprised by their holistic approach,” Fowler said. “Sales and marketing are important, but we’ve covered the whole business - the product, the customers. It’s been a real eye-opener.”
On the product side, the investment will allow Advanced to accelerate plans for its suite of financial accounting modules.
“There is more focus on product and a more integrated approach brought together under OpenAccounts. People have bought into the ROI of integrated solutions. More people are buying more than one system and we’re seeing real interest from customers on the benefits it can bring.”
Fowler revealed the key benefits FDs can get from using Advanced’s technology: “Take FMS [OpenAccounts' financial management system]: It’s very horizontal in its nature, so where we’ve got specific verticals we tend to have some functionality that really works well for them.
“If you take facilities management, the project ledger within OpenAccounts works well in terms of being able to set up a building or a contract as a ledger and not all competing products can do that sort of thing.
“Integrated systems, integrated data gives you integrated reporting. It gives you dashboards. When you can bring all the data into one place the benefit of doing it is fantastic. Whether it’s just a traffic light or a graph telling you what you’re doing, it enables you to get an early warning of what’s happening. FDs get it.”
Fowler did not have immediate concerns about the threat posed by smaller cloud accounting solutions such as Xero, QuickBooks and KashFlow, but said: “It won’t be long before we do. We’re taking the threat and capability of those solutions very seriously. But we’re not seeing it in the mid-market where we position our OpenAccounts, the FMS of the open suite. On the SME side we’ve got Exchequer. The threat is bumping in at the low end of its marketplace, but not in a big way.
“Generally we find if somebody’s looking at one of our applications it’s unlikely that KashFlow or Xero will do it for them at the moment. I’m not writing them off in any way shape or form - they’re a very serious threat in the years to come.”