*Article by Chris Player of CRN Magazine – Click here for full article
Melbourne-based developer, Integr8IT, has completed the rollout of a cloud portal for accounting company, Moore Stephens, which has the potential to open up a global sales channel.
The accounting firm had been looking for a cloud-based platform it could rollout to its clients for access to multiple applications such as Xero, MYOB, Office 365 and Salesforce with a single sign on.
Moore Stephens runs a network of 626 offices across 276 firms in 108 countries, employs 27,997 people and has fees of more than US$2.7 billion, according to the company website.
Integr8IT general manager, Peter Elliott, told ARN that the firm and its clients use a swathe of accounting programs and other software and while the project was originally about single sign on, it quickly evolved.
“They started seeing it as more of a Moore Stephens platform from which they could deliver even more value,” he said. “We began to add in more features like financial dashboards and we have linked in with applications like Xero and MYOB.”
The platform now boasts more than 4000 cloud-based applications as well as integrations which have changed the way the customer views the product.
“Moore Stephens sees this as a dashboard which can be rolled out to all their clients, starting in Victoria but hopefully rolling out to the rest of Australia and maybe on elsewhere as well,” he said.
The as-a-service route
The platform is a specific project for the accounting firm and Elliott said the original investment in development came from Integr8IT because the customer wanted per user, per monthly billing.
This left a lot of the initial heavy lifting to Elliott and his team but he said the sizable opportunity with a company like Moore Stephens was worth the investment.
“We saw that there was an opportunity to get our foot in the door and these kind of projects, to get the investment up front from the client and to go through the terms and conditions is a deal that can take a long time to close,” he explained.
“We thought the risk was worth the opportunity and we saw that there was a drive from Moore Stephens to have this platform, they really had the need for it. So we thought it was a risk worth taking and hopefully we will reap the rewards.”
The initial rollout is for the accounting firm’s Victorian branch offices in Melbourne and Geelong, with the company housing 16 directors and more than 100 staff in the state.
This will serve as a pilot program but Elliott said the company has already had a good deal of interest from the other Australian branch offices as well as from those in New Zealand and the UK.
“We have already had meetings with offices from the rest of the country,” he said. “There is appetite from them as well but they will obviously see how it goes in Victoria, and hopefully jump on board after that.”
As a customer facing platform, its success will live or die on customer uptake – this will rely on a number of factors including the accounting firm’s management of the platform and how it evolves over time.
But Elliott is confident that the portal will add value for the clients and – as it automates many processes for Moore Stephens and customers – save time for the company.
Elliott added that due to the sensitivity of the data on the platform Moore Stephens need to have complete control.
“We don’t want a hand in that,” Elliott said. “We only want to get involved if there are technical issues, but we will be involved from a training perspective, but once the training is over and done with, our role becomes upkeep and adding value.”
This value will come from additional functionality driven by feedback from MS and its customers. The project will be all-encompassing for the Integr8IT team for the short-term and Elliott said he is personally booked out with engagements for the next year.
Turning a customer into a partner
The deal includes an exclusivity clause but Elliott said this does not limit the potential growth of the project and in fact, opens up an entirely different route to market.
“Moore Stephens see this as something that can be used by different industries, so once we are really happy with it and Moore Stephens’ clients are really happy with the features, Moore Stephens themselves will start being the drivers to push it into other industries,” he said
Elliott said he believes that the firm will be able to use it as a sales tool to attract more clients.
While growing the user base among Moore Stephens customers in the immediate goal, the exponential growth opportunity will come from additional industry uptake.
If successful, this will turn a global accounting firm into a channel partner and increase Integr8 IT’s reach far beyond what it could achieve on its own.