The 2023 Acumatica Summit in Las Vegas this week was, to quote colleague Holger Mueller, well attended. The Summit, according to Acumatica, “was attended by more than 2,800 customers, partners and analysts.” Jon Reed will be covering a number of the customer interviews he had – as well as a review of Acumatica’s attempt to claim the modern ERP mantle. I’ll provide a quick recap of the newsworthy bits here.
Changing of the guard
This was the first show for new CEO John Case. Case was a former customer of Acumatica before taking the CEO job. Case indicated that he spent a lot of time recently meeting with customers and partners globally. Those visits apparently went well for him and solidified, in his mind, the value that Acumatica appears to be delivering to customers. Former CEO, Jon Roskill, was also at the show but not as a speaker.
Contrary to tech sector layoff stories in the press recently, an Acumatica executive stated that they and many of their implementation partners reported strong Q3 and Q4 2022 revenues. Acumatica also grew. The company reported that they surpassed the 10,000-customer count mark.
Growth was a key discussion topic among attendees, speakers and Acumatica executives. For a company that primarily targets small-to-medium-sized businesses, I heard from a couple of Acumatica’s billion dollar in annual revenue customers. Exactly how far the product line can scale is not known but companies seem to approach the upper limits when they begin to have significant global operations, possess a number of non-integrated legal entities (e.g., via inorganic growth), and/or possess reporting and analytic requirements that require lots of non-Acumatica sourced data.
Jon Reed spoke with Ali Jani (Chief Product Officer) about Acumatica’s target market and its software development efforts. Ali stated:
The reality in market momentum for us is in the upper Small Business /Lower Mid-market. It's not the upper mid-market. So, we're not as focused on these really, really high-end functionalities that these big enterprises want. But (our focus is) you know, what are these 100-employee companies or $20 million/ $30 million/ $50 million companies demanding? We are so much more focused on rounding out those areas much more than adding capabilities like greater global capabilities and helping them optimize the transportation between the two global organizations. …. But, we want to stay true to where we’re good at.
There was ample evidence at the show that the company is actively soliciting a lot of input and jointly developing solutions for their target market. Moreover, there were many proof points of added capability and depth going into their four vertical industry solutions. (see below)
What customers came for
Acumatica customers were, for the most part, interested in several consistent items.
Most customers wanted to meet with ISV’s and other tech firms that could provide additional capabilities and value with their Acumatica purchase. While everyone probably expects this at all software shows, this was a big thing at Summit as customer after customer mentioned this to me.
Moreover, the sheer number of software and implementation partners at the show was eye-popping. Where many vendors struggle to fill one expo room with partner solutions, Acumatica had two and may open this up more for next year. Oh, and the expo hall was always busy! I hope Acumatica doesn’t accept the worst practice of many of its competitors and try to turn the expo into a money making enterprise for themselves. The customers were genuinely interested in kicking lots of tires and seeking novel approaches to their most challenging business issues. If booth space gets too costly, few partners will show up and customers will find this aspect of the Summit to be diminished.
A number of customers also wanted to meet with potential new implementation partners. This was the case with fast-growing entities or entities that were growing inorganically (via M&A), growing rapidly, or, growing internationally. A partner that can help a tiny, local firm implement Acumatica may lack the team or expertise to help a company transition to ever more complex environments, need more efficient/effective processes, and/or activate more sophisticated capabilities.
Some customers also wanted to rub shoulders with other customers to trade tips/tricks with power users, tech gurus and even the hackathon pros.
And finally, I did find some customers interested in chatting with top executives from Acumatica.
The #1 customer desire?
Acumatica might really poll its customers re: satisfaction with its reporting tools. A significant number told me they were not crushing on the current tools. This was especially true when customers wanted to include externally sourced data in with Acumatica application data. Some customers didn’t think the performance was optimal either.
This warrants attention as more data will come from sensors, IoT devices, meters, etc. and the reporting tools will need to easily marry this with Acumatica data. When this happens, the software should provide more optimal insights and, when paired with ML (machine learning) capabilities, better recommendations can ensue.
While the number of data points I got on this was small, they were voiced by several customers.
IFS and EQT
In June of 2019, private equity firm EQT purchased Acumatica. EQT also controlled much of IFS, a Scandinavian mid-to-enterprise market provider of ERP software. Jon Reed and I co-authored a piece on that news (The coming together of ERP firms Acumatica and IFS - an early analysis (diginomica.com)) in 2019 but we learned that the planned synergies between the two firms are not occurring:
Today, Swedish-based ERP vendor IFS and U.S. based ERP vendor Acumatica are coming together. This transaction is actually one that involves IFS’ private equity owner: EQT. EQT Partners acquired IFS AB in 2016 and has now acquired Acumatica via the same funding pool.
The end result will be that the two firms will retain much of their autonomy; however, synergies from go-to-market activities, R&D efforts, etc. will be maximized between the two companies (more on this below). As such, this is not an acquisition by IFS, per se, but rather a tight affiliation between the two companies.
One senior Acumatica executive indicated that the two firms do share a co-location facility in Sri Lanka but that differences in each firm’s technology and target markets made for a suboptimal sharing of intellectual property.
Like last year, Acumatica did not make major product announcements. They did pour a lot of energy into developing functional improvements to their four core vertical solutions. Jon Reed had an almost identical observation last year when he wrote:
Acumatica didn't have major news stories; that's not really their style. Even the IBS Imperium acquisition is organic to their platform. But, as is their habit, they announced a boatload of new features for each industry edition.
During the Day Two keynote, attendees were shown a number of vertical enhancements coming as part of Acumatica’s 2023 R1 release. That release will be, according to Acumatica, “in beta on Feb. 2, with general availability planned for April”.
The list of new enhancements/capabilities is extensive. Space limitations preclude us from listing it all here but readers should review Acumatica’s news release on these. It can be found here.
2023 R1 will debut some functionality via ‘experimental and controlled release features'. Users will also see new Microsoft Teams integration and templates.
A new collection of payment technologies will also be available.
This show was first and foremost for the customers and secondly for the partners. By many measures it was a success and I suspect a lot of folks in those constituencies will go away happy. Judging by the number of times that the audience applauded new capabilities, customers saw a lot to like.
As an ‘event’, it was well executed, tightly scripted and, amazingly enough, on time. Not every vendor can make that claim. I did miss some of the ad libs and unscripted moments from past events.
The big challenge from my point of view is that Acumatica faces a number of competitors that are not growing as rapidly, have pitiful or non-existent messaging, keep undergoing leadership and strategy changes, and, generally, are lost in the mid-market space. It’s as if they figured out the small-business space but are choking on the mid-market. Specifically, these competitors can’t scale well and/or lose focus on a daily basis.
Acumatica must act as if it’s competing hard against some of the largest, meanest vendors out there even if the current crop of competitors is awol. They need to grab all of the market share that’s up for grabs (and be greedy about it). Businesses don’t replace their ERP solution but once every decade or so. As a result, Acumatica needs to harvest as much market share as it can while the pickings are a bit easier these days.
Jon Reed in March 2022 Meet Acumatica's new CEO John Case - what is his cloud ERP growth agenda? (diginomica.com)