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Sage arrival means accounting hotting up for 2009 – but slowly?

Dennis Howlett has reviewed the beta of SageLive, the on-demand product that we have all expected for so long from Sage. Targeting microbusinesses, it looks like it will be priced around £10/user/month with your accountant getting access for free. Dennis doesn’t seem overwhelmed on first look, with the main impressive feature being the Blackberry interface… but at least the entry of this major player into the on-demand market is an endorsement of those of us who’ve been investing in the sector for a while now. Interestingly they are releasing Billing first along with Cash – much the same strategy as we have with CODA 2go. We were a little unsure about that approach at first, but testing it out with users seemed to work ok and this further suggests it was a valid approach.

Sage goes into open Beta today and Dennis suggests a full launch in Q1 2009. Dennis and another well-known blogger and analyst Brian Sommer recently got an update from SAP about BusinessByDesign. It seems that a slow, modest rollout in 2009 is on the cards – with clearly a lot of work going on behind the scenes. They claim customer numbers ‘in double figures (i.e. something between 10 and 99 I guess…). Clearly we’re very happy to see another established accounting software company backing SaaS. Healthy competition is always good for the end user, and Sage’s entry highlights the tremendous cost benefits of cloud accounting, especially for small-to-medium size businesses.

Similarly SAP’s entry in the market has been an endorsement at the higher end of the market that cloud computing will be a key force in business computing. That said, we’ve taken a rather different approach from the two, building CODA 2go on top of Salesforce’s platform rather than our own infrastructure. From our standpoint, using a proven, scalable platform has been a great decision. It’s cut years off our time to market and given us the freedom to focus on application development, which is what we do best. It also gets us quickly past any security concerns that users might have, by using a hosting service and infrastructure with an outstanding record over many years… So we’re confident we’re on the right track, but it will be interesting to see how these different strategies play out. Clearly 2009 will be a key year with more players entering the market, but all players seem to be taking a steady, considered approach to the market. Maybe that’s to be expected when accountants enter a new technology market!

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