There’s not many company’s whose mission is to help their customers ‘graduate’ from a competitor. All companies have to get their customers from two sources: taking them from the competition or acquiring new customers.
However, Intacct is 100% focused on helping customers graduate from Quickbooks. Intacct’s direct competitors are NetSuite, Oracle, Everest and other companies targeting more mid-size small businesses customers.
With over 2,000 customers Intacct has a sizable share of the customer base who might feel that they’ve outgrown Quickbooks. Remember, the higher up the food chain you go, the smaller the market is.
One of the most important assets a company has is its leadership and Intacct CEO Mike Braun, who I interview below, is an experienced leader, steeped in the small business community.
He’s been in technology for 35 years and was at IBM for 23 years. Mike was GM of four major divisions at IBM, including its Small Business division, which he led along with many of IBM’s first distribution channels. Also at IBM, in 1999, Mike conceived the company’s on-demand strategy, a platform that has changed the software landscape. Mike also was a founder and VP of IBM’s Multimedia Division in 1990 and started its Fireworks Partners venture fund in 1992.
Mike has been CEO of three prior companies, including Blaze Software, which went public in 2000 and is now part of Fair Isaac Corporation, and Kaleida Labs, a joint venture between Apple and IBM. In addition to his role as CEO at Intacct, Mike currently is chairman of the board at Callidus Software (NASDAQ: CALD). He also founded The Interim CEO Network, a Silicon Valley firm that helps VCs place CEOs.
[Smallbiztechnology.com] – There’s a lot of industry buzz about NetSuite, Salesforce.com, Microsoft CRM and SAP – where does Intacct stand compared to these companies?
The buzz is about a revolution in how companies of all sizes buy, deploy and use business applications.
In the old model, companies made large upfront investments to buy the application software, system software, hardware, network infrastructure and professional services needed to install, implement and train their employees. Everything was installed at the customer’s location. This “on-premise” model is crumbling at an amazing rate because the new model is better for both customers and vendors.
The new “on-demand” model delivers the business applications to customers over the internet for an all inclusive monthly charge. The customer’s upfront investment is dramatically reduced as is the time to deploy. The vendor manages all the complexity, security, and growth needs of the customer and must earn their business every month.
Microsoft, SAP and Oracle are Goliaths of the “on-premise” world, but have no offerings in the new world yet (though they are promising to catch up).
Salesforce.com, Intacct, and NetSuite were born on the net. We all have 7+ years of experience building and delivering business applications “on-demand”. Salesforce.com and Intacct are best-of-breed companies and partners. Salesforce.com is the leading on-demand company by far and focuses on “front office” applications like CRM. Intacct handles the “back office” accounting and financial management systems and is tightly integrated with salesforce.com. NetSuite, as its name implies, is trying to be everything to everyone. While they focus on the breadth of their offering, salesforce.com and Intacct focus on depth. In the on-demand financials market, it’s pretty much a 2 horse race between Intacct and NetSuite. We focus on small businesses who are graduating from QuickBooks as they grow, and NetSuite seems to focus on much larger companies who are considering SAP.
How has the evolution of SaaS affected Intacct? – which, like Google has always been a SaaS company (is this correct?)
SaaS, the other name applied to the “on-demand” model has changed the entire status quo of the software business and made it possible for new companies to take on the role of “David” and slay “Goliath”. Intacct’s SaaS model is drawing customers from Goliaths like Intuit (QuickBooks), Microsoft (Dynamics) and Sage (MAS 90, 200).
Google is delivering business productivity apps like email, word processing and spreadsheets that are taking business from Microsoft Office. Salesforce.com is stealing business from Oracle and SAP. In our early days 2000-2002, only early adopters adopted on-demand SaaS applications, now everyone wonders what took them so long. We’re proud to have survived and thrived with over 2000 customers today.
There are so many choices for integrated solutions in the small business space, why should small-medium sized businesses consider Intacct?
Choosing Intacct over the many on-premise offering is an easy decision. For customers graduating from QuickBooks or another entry system, Intacct offers a tremendous upgrade in capability at a fraction of the upfront cost of the traditional solutions. Most importantly it saves the customer from hiring staff to buy and maintain the infrastructure for ever. We add new features monthly. No more software to buy and upgrades to install. Just turn on the new features. If they already use market leader salesforce.com, customers find the integration with Intacct leverages an existing investment.
CRM and Business Intelligence – how important are these for businesses and what in particular does Intacct offer in these regards?
CRM, customer relationship management, is vital to businesses trying to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales and customer support activities. These systems capture all information about prospects and customers and present the right stuff at the right time for front line employees, which can dramatically shorten sales and response cycles.
Business Intelligence is the fancy term applied to analysis of company data and reporting that work in a wide variety of formats. Many customers choose Intacct as their financial system of record on the basis of our strong Business Intelligence features. Our system is able to keep track of much more than debits and credits. We record data on employees, customer types, leads, etc in statistical accounts so that companies can a user can ask questions like, “What’s the total sales and marketing cost to acquire a new customer?” The results of the analysis can be reported on a regular and systematic basis; pulled together in an ad-hoc report or displayed graphically on a user’s dashboard screen. This is just one of many, many examples.
Google is quickly evolving as a challenge to “Microsoft” (as the media likes to play it) and Microsoft is slowly emerging with its SaaS strategy. Is there more to this picture than appears to be simply between a born hosted app company and a traditional software vendor? Or, is it pretty much that simple?
The Google vs. Microsoft battle on applications is pretty much “on-demand” vs. “on-premise” but the other dimension relates to advertising supported applications. Most users are comfortable today seeing ads alongside their internet search results, but Google is taking it a step further with business applications that also include advertising on the screens. So, it’s like television. It’s free to the user because advertisers are paying the bills. It remains to be seen if business application users will tolerate such intrusion or companies will allow it. Free is a compelling offer, so my guess is that eventually this model will become acceptable to the mass market.
[Editor’s note: Google apps, the fee based version, is not advertising support]
Graduate from QuickBooksÖwhat about QuickBooks Enterprise?
If you’ve outgrown QuickBooks and are still growing, you could outgrow QuickBooks Enterprise pretty quickly. QuickBooks Enterprise supports a maximum of 20 users and is a traditional “on-premise” application requiring hardware, support, upgrades and installation. It helps users extend the life of QuickBooks, but ultimately it’s not a system for a growing business. For example it doesn’t support multiple currencies; you have to use Excel for multiple entity consolidation; and integration with CRM systems like salesforce.com requires software from a third-party. Companies using Intacct have no system limits that constrain growth. So, if you’re going to need to graduate from QuickBooks eventually, why not start now with Intacct. The longer you wait, the harder it is to switch.