Sage North America yesterday announced the results of its mobile device survey, which recently polled 490 small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in the United States. The Sage SMB Survey on Mobile Devices showed that employees accessed work-related information when they were not in the office most commonly using laptops (80 percent) and smartphones (81 percent), followed by tablets (57 percent).
Back in November 2012, Intuit launched an Intuit Pay pilot project for the United Kingdom. The company has since learned a lot, improved the product, and announced that Intuit Pay is generally available, giving anyone who sells products or services in the UK a reasonably easy and low-cost way to accept credit and debit card payments, whether in person or over the phone.
Per Intuit’s most recent Small Business Employment Index, the employment rate is gradually improving. Intuit and LinkedIn have agreed to host the first “Hire Smart” event for small businesses looking to hire their first employees. This free event at Intuit’s HQ in Mountain View, California, is slated for April 27, 2013.
Today, more and more companies are breaking down into a slew of collaborative networks of smaller organizations with ever greater specialization. In this new ad-hoc collaborative world, most companies are small, lean, and nimble, relying on extensive supplier networks. Companies have multiple clients and contracts across a globally diverse workforce available on a supply-and-demand (as needed) basis. These trends are giving rise to a massive and rapidly growing “contingent” workforce that will make up to 40 percent of the entire workforce by 2020 (currently at 30 percent, according to CNNMoney). BusinessWeek reported that 26 percent of employees in 2005 had nonstandard jobs, i.e., temps, part-timers, independent contractors, freelancers, free agents, self-employed, so-called “micropreneurs,” and so on.
After engaging in a soul-searching exercise a while back, which has lately resulted with more coherent strategies in some regions, and with the recent public statement of its commitment to making customers happy, Sage Group announced at the opening of trading at the London Stock Exchange on February 15, 2013, that it has reached a definitive agreement to sell Sage Nonprofit Solutions to Accel-KKR, and ACT! and SalesLogix to Swiftpage. Accel-KKR has extensive expertise in accelerating the growth of software companies in vertical industry segments, KANA Software being one example. The investment firm brings a wealth of operational best practices and strategic insight to its portfolio companies and is a good partner to help these businesses reach their full potential.
As part of its ongoing quest for innovation, Intuit recently announced that QuickBooks Online is now available for mobile devices. QuickBooks Online for iPad (the name is somewhat deceiving given that the product runs on multiple mobile devices and not only on the Apple iPad) is the newest addition to the QuickBooks Online suite. Through a single QuickBooks Online account, a business can access and interact with its data from a computer, tablet, or other mobile device. There are native apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones (but no native Android tablet app yet). Data automatically syncs between devices and users, so small businesses can manage their finances anytime, anywhere.
2012 was a whirlwind year of influences on the business landscape—some of them good and some of them not so good. The fiscal cliff, the U.S. presidential election, an anemic economic recovery, the debt ceiling and proposed sequestration cuts, along with Hurricane Sandy’s effects on business are a few things that come to mind. But despite the ever-changing business landscape, one central tenet always rings true: keep your customers happy.
Sage’s professed focus has for some time been the customer experience, and the company has done a number of things in the last year to further its goals in this regard. We talked to Joe Langner, executive vice president of mid-market solutions at Sage North America, about what Sage has learned in this arena, and what the company is planning for 2013 to continue following this mantra. While Sage is a large company with over 6 million customers worldwide, many of the lessons it has learned can easily be applied to any business—small or large, in services or manufacturing, bricks-and-mortar or ecommerce.
It is not surprising to hear that enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are not particularly beloved by their users. Indeed, companies are not exactly infatuated with their pricey enterprise system “toys” the way some consumers love their tablets or smartphones (not to mention the unconditional way my 5.5-year-old loves her teddy bear). So the recent InformationWeek piece on users being frustrated with their ERP purchases could have been just another article on that theme. But, what caught my eye here were the words “the UK” and “public sector.” Reportedly, more than 60 percent of IT decision makers in British local government feel their ERP investments haven’t delivered, according to a recent poll.
Intuit recently released its “December Small Business Employment and Revenue Indexes” as well a special 2012 look back report. All data cited in the blog post and year-end report are based on a combination of government data and an anonymized subset of Intuit QuickBooks Online, Intuit Online Payroll, and QuickBooks Online Payroll users.
Intuit’s payments group launched Intuit Pay, a mobile payments pilot geared at small businesses in the United Kingdom (UK). The service offers users an inexpensive way to accept card payments anywhere with a free mobile app and low-cost chip and PIN reader.
A survey of 1,000 small businesses in the UK found that 19 percent of micro-businesses (firms with fewer than 10 employees) currently accept card payments. Almost half (47 percent) said they would accept cards if there was a more affordable way of doing so using their smartphone or tablet. There are an estimated 4.6 million micro-businesses in the UK.
Zuora announces the launch of Z-Finance for subscription businesses. Zuora’s solution is built on a unique framework to address the shortcomings of traditional accounting methods. The solution complements popular accounting and ERP solutions such as FinancialForce, NetSuite, Oracle, Sage, SAP, and Quickbooks. Z-Finance is built on a framework containing multidimensional ledgers and a data model that inherently calculate subscription metrics like annual percentage rate (APR) and true cash value (TCV)—can your financial package can do this for you?
Before the lean enterprise paradigm swept across the manufacturing industry, I doubt many business people would have considered accounting as a serious tool for changing the mindset of decisions makers and how businesses operate. It turns out, however, that there’s more than one way to do accounting, and the accounting approach an organization uses can have a significant impact on a business’s direction. Read the rest of this entry »
I attended the Lean Accounting Summit in Orlando in September, and I’m still struck by the totally different attitudes of companies that choose lean transformation versus conventional non-lean companies.
Lean thinking certainly isn’t new to the business community, but many managers and business influencers still have no clear understanding of lean. They typically pick and choose their lean manufacturing tools, and ignore other lean principles that contribute to success, if not playing an even more vital role. One example of such overlooked principles: lean accounting. Read the rest of this entry »
Accounting and Business
Accounting departments have long suffered from being considered as serving a lower-priority function and playing a subsidiary role to other departments in any business—i.e., a “non-value creating” activity. Many business owners and top managers consider accounting as government mandated and a pretty much useless function. They also view accountants as boring bean counters whose only role is to prepare a few insipid reports a year, and who are known for their constant irritating interventions to “more valuable” departments with unclear (for most personnel) requirements and standards that others have to maintain for reasons unknown. And I wouldn’t be surprised if all top managers secretly dreamt of ridding themselves of those annoying accounting people and finally doing whatever they want, without looking back at the “weird” needs of the bookkeeping department. Or at least outsource them as much as possible to minimize their involvement, cut expenses to nearly nothing, and forget about them—all the more so, as information technology (IT) allows for performing such outsourcing nowadays.
However, accounting and financial activities, and the people who carry them out, definitely deserve to be better regarded by others. Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of this series analyzed the transformative events during the last few years at Sage Group, Plc (LSE: SGE) and its Sage North America subsidiary. These changes have led to its analyst day in Boston in February 2011, where Sage took a giant leap towards clarifying its position in the market. The analyst day started with Sage Group’s CEO Guy Berruyer’s and the outgoing Sage North America’s CEO Sue Swenson’s reports on their respective companies’ current state of affairs.
Part 2 talked about the subsequent presentation by Himanshu Palsule, Executive Vice President of Product Strategy and Marketing of Sage North America’s Business Solutions, on Sage North America’s strategic “Extend, Connect, Grow” framework and related Web strategy. In this presentation, Sage espoused somewhat differing cloud computing approaches for the small business and core mid-market segments.
But how do Sage customers and partners fit within the “Extend, Connect, Grow” strategic pillars?