Accpac tries on hosted CRM product

QUEBEC CITY — Accpac International Thursday launched a hosted version of its CRM product and is promising resellers they will still get a piece of the pie.

Speaking during his keynote address here at Accpac’s 2003 Partnership

Conference, CEO David Hood announced, assuring VARs a 20 per cent annual revenue stream with every new client. When signing up, customers are required to indicate the name of the Accpac partner who will be assisting them with deployment. is a hosted subscription product sold to customers for sales force automation, marketing and customer care.

Providing the CRM (customer relationship management) option in a hosted environment with integration help and customization gives customers greater choice when shopping for a CRM product, said Ivan MacDonald, senior vice-president of worldwide CRM operations with Accpac.

MacDonald said the product is a “”channel-focused service.”” Partners can also get it for free until the end of the year.

“”Before, it has been either or the Microsoft stack of hardware and software — that’s been the software dilemma with CRM,”” said MacDonald. “”This is an opportunity to get started quickly.””

Upgrades were also announced for release of Accpac CRM 5.6 enterprise edition including usability enhancements, ease of reporting data and an advanced customization wizard as well as IBM Lotus Domino and IBM DB2 full integration. Version 5.7 is also being tweaked and will support native Linux deployment and integrate Accpac CRM with almost any accounting system, whether on premises or hosted.

“”If you have Great Plains you don’t have to throw it out to get and use Accpac CRM,”” said MacDonald.

Detroit, Mich.-based Breeze Freeze, makers of frozen drink machines that produce smoothies and marguerites, recently deployed Accpac CRM after throwing out its Great Plains install.

“”We looked at various competitors and Web-enablement was important to us as was the architecture. We were looking for a good user interface at the front end and database at the backend. I’m looking to put this in front of franchisees around the world and it has to have a common interface and back end,”” said Rick Ireland, CIO of Breeze Freeze.

The company had worked with Microsoft for 11 years and Ireland attended the launch of its CRM product in March.

“”We got the product in house but the bottom line is, it doesn’t have the integration we were looking for or the interface and doesn’t deliver on key functions we were looking for,”” said Ireland.

In the small and medium-size business segment, it is estimated that Accpac has about a 30 per cent market share of the accounting and finance software business said IDC Canada analyst Warren Shiau. That positions the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company well to lure its traditional accounting software customers to adopt its CRM product line.

“”They are fairly large in finance or accounting applications and for companies under 100 employees they are probably the dominant player,”” said Shiau.

“”I think they were trying to leverage that to get into CRM functionality on the very basic stuff. Everyone keeps saying Microsoft has so much power to leverage its position — and they do — but right now Accpac has a really, really significant portion of installed base in small business for the accounting application so if they were just to bundle in some basic CRM functionality or if they got some promotion to their customer list saying, ‘Did you know you can do this in the next version of Accpac?’ they could fairly quickly become major players in small organization CRM,”” he said.

Last year at its partnership conference, Accpac had 150 CRM partners. Today, Hood said the number tops 650 partners.

Analysts suggest the SMB CRM market is only 20 per cent penetrated — presenting a huge opportunity for the players positioned to go after it.

And despite consolidation that has gone on in the industry over the last year, CEO Hood said he is confident the company will keep competitors at bay while the race for the SMB market heats up — with a three horse race that currently includes Accpac, Microsoft and Sage.

“”With SAP’s BusinessOne and the acquisition of J.D. Edwards by PeopleSoft, the question is who is going to win in the bid for SMB? I think there is plenty of room but it takes more than acquisition to win customers,”” Hood said. “”To reach the SMB market you need a global SMB channel that is business application smart.””

Hood said Accpac’s “”freedom of choice”” — which offers hosted or on-site install on Windows or Linux, DB2 or SQL Server — gives customers options other vendors do not.

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