I’m a cloud evangelist from what I believe is a totally pragmatic perspective – I believe the cloud in general, and SaaS in particular, deliver significant added value merely by virtue of the fact that they’re connected, connectable and able to leverage aggregate knowledge.
I’m not however completely dogmatic. While I understand the arguments for “true SaaS” and “true cloud” I understand the imperatives for users, firmly ensconced in an on-premises world. For those individuals, the pain of migration it still just too hard and this is where the validity of what Microsoft terms software + services comes in.
I honestly see, at least in the short term, a significant value in connected services for on-premises software – which is one of the reasons I’m so positive about the Intuit Partner Platform that seeks to weld desktop software with web applications (and no – it’s not just because IPP is a client).
Into a similar space comes Re-sync IT, a development partner of MYOB in Australia who sent me an email to tell me about their new offering.
From the marketing material, Your Business Cloud is sold as;
an online web accounting application for your MYOB accounting software. This totally unique online accounting application allows you to view and update your MYOB accounting software directly from a web browser anywhere in the world.
In effect YBC is a connector that allows businesses using MYOB’s accounting products to “connect” it to the clouds and, in particular, to the YBC web application.
While this application admittedly does not provide the entire breadth of functionality that the desktop product does, it’s fair to say it’s broader than most pure play SaaS accounting offerings out there – at AUD55 for up to five users, it’s not cheap, especially when you look at the costs of acquisition and upgrades to the core desktop product. But for businesses that have significant investment in terms of time and business process in MYOB, it gives them the ability to access remotely, have a dashboard that is way ahead of what the desktop product provides and, more importantly, add on extra services (Your Business Cloud is releasing a fully integrated CRM product very soon).
So far I’ve tested the demo version, I’ll be testing a full live version on a working database in the next couple of weeks. Initially though I’m pretty positive. YBC actually works, provides a good dashboard that even allows users to drill down into transactions for details, and actually allows for the creation of invoices remotely – a seemingly simple requirement sadly lacking in desktop products.
Admittedly something’s are missing – in my case the ability to change the tax rate on an individual line item – Re Sync were happy to include this in the next release but there are unanswered questions about how big and unwieldy the offering will become once all the “edge cases” are provided for.
Of course it’s an interim step – despite arguably a faltering start, I’d be surprised if MYOB is standing still – it seems the incumbents are all trying to innovate in different ways (Intuit with the IPP, Sage in some ways with Pastel) and I’d imagine MYOB are doing similarly – but the fact is large software companies innovate slowly – YBC is an interim step that will be very attractive to a number of existing MYOB customers. For the SaaS aficionados it’ll appear quaint and backwards, but out in the real world…. it’s a big jump forwards.