Ten years ago Simon Bishop and Ross Gilchrist were part of the Australian launch of SAP Business One, the European giant’s stab at a cloud ERP.
The early involvement of their company, Inecom, established it as one of the country’s leading Business One integrators.
Last year Bishop and Gilchrist repeated their strategy with a lesser-known name in ERP. MYOB made the surprise decision to license the US cloud ERP Acumatica and localise it for Australian tax and payroll two years ago. MYOB launched the rebadged product as MYOB Advanced in February 2015. From a standing start, Inecom threw itself into marketing the new program to its customers and took out the inaugural award for MYOB Advanced partner of the year in March.
How did they do it, and why MYOB? The software company’s dominance in the SMB accounting market has overshadowed its efforts in “business management systems”. MYOB EXO, the on-premises solution, has not enjoyed anywhere near the same success.
As with many successes in business, good timing played a hand. Inecom had been looking for another cloud program to sell to companies moving from legacy on-premises or hosted systems.
“We spent a great deal of time in the market reviewing various solutions with Acumatica and NetSuite as our original shortlisted solution to complement our well-regarded SAP practice,” Bishop said by email.
Gilchrist and Bishop had already looked at and been impressed by Acumatica before MYOB made its announcement. It was enough to push Inecom away from NetSuite to the more affordable option.
The biggest contributor to Inecom’s swag of 15 first-year customers was an event it held on the 89th floor of the Eureka Tower in Melbourne. The company ran an expensive, three-week marketing campaign that attracted 130 companies for a six-hour presentation that included breakfast and lunch.
It took a lot of effort to pull such a big crowd. Inecom employed four telemarketers full-time for six weeks and mailed brochures to manufacturers and other prospects around Glen Waverley. Bishop and Gilchrist wrote the brochures themselves, as well as a mailer on financial management, distribution and business management.
“We did a lot of physical brochures and invitations to businesses in the area,” Gilchrist says.. “Everyone says they’re dead, but it works for us. If you’re going to launch something, you’ve got to go for it. It’s hard to get leads. You can use websites and social media, but to get people into events it has to be a lot more personal.”
Inecom kept up the momentum with smaller events. Last month it spoke to 30 companies in the offices of the not-for-profit standards organisation, GS1, on EDI and barcode compliance.
Bishop and Gilchrist are confident about MYOB’s future as an ERP vendor. In fact, MYOB Advanced stacks up well against Business One. “Whether it’s finance or wholesale distribution, they’re both very strong and comparable,” Gilchrist says. “About half our clients on Advanced would be in wholesale distribution and half would be in project accounting.”
Key strengths include customisation, integration and mobility. The Acumatica code behind MYOB Advanced has been described as more of a platform than a program, as demonstrated by one Inecom project for a quarry.
The quarry wanted a faster way to record the weight of mining trucks on its weighbridge. Inecom took the weighbridge data and fed it directly to Advanced which also registered the truck and its destination, then sent the invoice to the customer.
“Taking up a product in the ugly duckling phase has its challenges, but we come out the other end as their premier partner,” Gilchrist says.
Head office Glen Waverley, Victoria
Top executives Simon Bishop (owner/chairman), Ross Gilchrist (managing director)
Vendors MYOB Advanced, SAP Business One
Sector ERP/ Business Management Systems (clients in professional services, wholesale distribution, software and technology, retail, services management)