Three cloud accounting software developers turned up at the Accountex event in London last week hoping to gain a foothold in the UK market. And more are waiting in the wings.
The new entrants come from Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands and include two that may be familiar to UK accountants.
Ireland’s Relate Software is the company behind Surfaccounts.com. Dutch developer Exact, meanwhile, has sold its mid-range ERP system here for years, but came to Accountex to gauge the UK’s readiness for Exactonline.com, which is already available in the Netherlands.
But the company with the most ambitious claims at the event was saasu.com, which has been offering online accounts since 1999 in Australia.
UK managing director Daljit Bahia was a seed investor and has come to this country to continue its international expansion.
“Aussies are very good at new technology,” he said. A lot of good technology ideas have been picked up and rebadged by US suppliers. At saasu.com, he added, “We were there first and we’ll hold on to it. Because its cloud, it’s a lot easier for an Australian company to manage.”
Competition in the UK for all the new cloud contenders will be stiff, not just from local cloud developers such as KashFlow and FreeAgent, but also from Xero and established players such as Intuit and Sage.
But Sage’s hold on the UK holds no fear for Bahia, who has been watching the UK for several years. “We had our own monster in the shape of MYOB. It took a number of years for them to feel strain but the cracks started to appear a few years ago. And guess what? They’ve introduced a cloud application.”
He also said that saasu will be able to differentiate itself is in the sophistication of its underlying technology and responsive design, which can adapt to the screen size and operating systems of different devices.
“We realise where the market is going will be iPad, mobile and table. You need to be ahead of the game. People want to raise sales orders, purchase orders do management accounts and link in from their handheld smartphones. Can it be done? Yes it can.”
Mobile apps are also on the radar for Relate’s Surfaccounts, which launched in Ireland in March. The software currently can take quotes and orders through to invoices and includes a product catalogue and CRM functions including opportunity tracking and a sales pipeline analysis. While still in its embryonic stages, tablet and smartphone apps are promised for contacts, quotes, orders and invoicing.
Accountex was something of a “toe-dipping” exercise according to Relate managing director Ray Rogers. Compared to the UK, “Ireland is virgin territory for cloud accounting,” he said. “We’ll be promoting Surfaccounts through our existing customers, but firms are already coming to us and asking to demonstrate it,” he said.
There is no question that cloud is surging forward and disrupting the software market, with FreeAgent/IRIS OpenBooks, Xero and KashFlow leading the charge. But with 40-50 different systems to choose from, there is unlikely to be room for all the new entrants in the long run. But for the time being Richard Messik, a long-standing cloud champion and consultant for e-conomic, sees all the new arrivals as a healthy boost for the cloud market. “Competition is good - the more there are, the more acceptable they will be,” he said.
You might also be interested in
AccountingWEB’s interim Editor in Chief has been with the site since 1999 and returned to the editorial hot seat in March 2020 to support the team through the pandemic. When not tending to the needs of AccountingWEB members and geeking out on their technology habits, he devotes much of his time to an oddball collection of stringed instruments...