Accpac Unveils New CRM Strategy
By Michele Pepe , CRN
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September 05, 2003 – Business application developer Accpac International is pushing hard to penetrate the front office as thoroughly as it has the back room.
At its annual partner conference in Quebec City, Quebec, Aug. 20 – 23, Accpac unveiled a CRM game plan the company hopes will pit it successfully against well-established CRM brand names such as Salesforce.com, NetLedger and Upshot.
For the past four years, Accpac, a Pleasanton, Calif.-based division of Computer Associates International, has concentrated on creating an integrated framework of end-to-end business management applications for SMBs around the globe.
The company’s Pro Series and Advantage Series accounting packages sit at the core of its applications framework, tying seamlessly with Accpac’s human-resources and warehouse management systems, Exchange EDI product and boxed CRM offering.
Now Accpac is training the spotlight on its front-office CRM strategy by unveiling Accpaccrm.com, a hosted, online service for sales-force, marketing and customer service automation. “CRM is a key component of our end-to-end application strategy,” said David Hood, president and CEO of Accpac.
The hosted CRM offering integrates with back-office accounting packages,both Accpac’s and those of other vendors,and with other home-grown and legacy apps, Hood said.
For solution provider partners, the online CRM service presents a stable, recurring revenue stream and an opportunity to win new customers.
Partners get 20 percent of each new customer’s monthly charge for the hosted service, plus whatever revenue they generate for deployment, training and solution customization, Hood said.
Accpaccrm.com is currently based on version 5.5 of Accpac’s boxed CRM offering. Version 5.6, due in October, is slated to support Microsoft Outlook, Act/Goldmine imports and IBM Lotus Domino and DB2, Accpac executives said. Version 5.7, slated to be released in early 2004, will take that integration to the next level by offering support for Best Software, Great Plains and QuickBooks accounting packages, they said.
Accpac touts its open-software architecture and channel friendliness as its key strengths, Hood said.
The company’s products support Microsoft Windows, Linux and multiple databases including DB2, Microsoft SQL, Oracle and Sybase.
“We’re offering customers freedom of choice,” said Ivan MacDonald, senior vice president of worldwide CRM operations at Accpac. “[Best Software] supports Microsoft databases only, and to use Microsoft CRM, you have to buy into the company’s entire software stack,Active Directory, BizTalk, Outlook and all the rest.”
As for its relationship with the channel, Accpac has no direct-sales force and sells 100 percent through solution providers, consultants and ISVs, Hood said.
Small VARs with up to 10 employees account for about 80 percent of Accpac’s channel, and most of its customers generate annual revenue of $25 million to $75 million, Hood said. “We’re still fighting the perception that we’re a little company serving only little companies. Now we’re going after Siebel, SAP and Microsoft.”
Accpac is also setting its sights on stepping up its partner base so bigger solution providers account for more of the company’s sales, Hood said.
In the CRM space alone, Accpac more than quadrupled its partner base to about 650 this August from 150 last summer.
“For customers that don’t currently use Accpac accounting software, we plan to deploy Accpac CRM as a stand-alone product and link it to whatever accounting solution the customer is already using,” said Edward Solomon, president of Net at Work, a solution provider in New York. “For the Accpac installed base, we’ll have Accpac CRM customization opportunities.”
Worldwide spending in the online CRM market is expected to increase to $1.99 billion in 2006 from $189 million in 2002, according to Aberdeen Group.
“Accpac is not yet well known in the competitive CRM market, but it has a strong CRM product,” said Karen Smith, research director of CRM at Aberdeen.