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MYOB spots the cloud gap, takes flagship platform online

04 Sep 2012

While 60% of New Zealand business owners see the value of cloud services, just 14% actually use them.

That’s according to research conducted by accounting software vendor MYOB, which is taking a decidedly ‘non-techie’ focus to getting businesses into the cloud. According to CEO Tim Reed and general manager Julian Smith, when its flagship product goes that way, customers might not even notice.

Says Smith: “With just over 60% of the mass market saying they find cloud services highly attractive or attractive, but only 14% of business using such services, we believe there is a problem that needs to be solved.” That problem, he surmises, is that it is the techies who have made the leap – in other words, those businesses which are in the tech (or related) industries themselves.

Reed says the organisation essentially has three services on offer, through which a common thread of ‘easy online’ runs. The first is its MYOB Atlas.

“This gets small businesses their own website, free for the first year; offered with Westpac, we’ve seen over 6300 companies take up the offer.”

It’s non-techie approach means there is no jargon – like domains, web hosting and the like – but rather a simple message of ‘get online’.

Smith chips in with some figures, noting that some 80% of consumers search for goods online before buying, while only 35% of Kiwi businesses have a website.

The second line is MYOB Live Accounts, a solution which Reed says is designed for the 40% of Kiwi business that don’t use an accounting system at all.

“These are sole traders, businesses with up to three employees, those who depend on spreadsheets and word processors to support their operations.”

When quizzed on the numbers of businesses using this solution, Reed’s answer was simply that as a private company, MYOB had no obligation to share such information; this despite very recently being happy to share data on Atlas uptake.

From desktop to cloud – AccountRight Live

The bigger news of MYOB’s cloud push is in its redesign of AccountRight, a solution familiar to a great many local businesses. Dubbed ‘AccountRight Live’, the soon-to-be-released platform is hosted on Microsoft’s Azure platform, with data centres located in Singapore. Again, MYOB has taken great pains to make shifting online a relative non-event for the user; the solution is not browser-based, relying instead on familiar client software which synchronises data to the online system.

“The user interface is very similar to traditional version, avoiding the need for any change management,” says Reed; “Essentially, AccountRight Live puts our customers into the cloud and high technology without them having to do anything complicated themselves.”

Smith insists that MYOB’s moves into the cloud are not owing to competitive pressures, but rather the result of a strategy in place for some time.

“Xero is just one of a range of competitors; we believe our approach is different in that it commercialises cloud for the mass market on the basis of useability. This is based on what we think is a change in the way people operate and on the position that cloud technology is sufficiently mature. This was on the cards for some time; certainly for over 5 years.”

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