Budget steals spotlight from Softworld opening

A number of issues concerning the financial software market were up for discussion at the Softworld Accounting & Finance Software...

A number of issues concerning the financial software market were up for discussion at the Softworld Accounting & Finance Software exhibition, held last week at Olympia, London.

Although the exhibitors could not agree on a single overriding issue dominating the market at present, one thing on which they did concur was that the timing of Gordon Brown’s budget speech made for a disappointing turnout on the afternoon of the opening day last Wednesday.

Gavin Rowe, sales director at Great Plains’ VAR Advantage Systems, commented: “I would say that it has not been as successful as the event last year. The budget certainly didn’t help, because it was noticeably quieter on Wednesday afternoon.”

Rowe added ASP hosting was a talking point for many visitors to his stand, with most keen to know what effect it will have on the sector.

According to Trevor Cole, business development director at professional services and systems integration company Eclipse Computing, the emergence from the doldrums of the Y2K slowdown was of primary importance at present.

“People are starting to apply themselves and get new systems. Companies either got new systems to deal with the Y2K factor, or waited and repaired their systems. Now we are finding that bigger corporations are coming in to replace their finance systems, having got through that difficult period.”

Cole admitted that despite getting a fairly steady stream of quality leads from the event, the budget made for a slow afternoon on Wednesday.

Emma Cooper, marketing manager at e-transaction software provider Albany Software, agreed things were a little slow. “The event has been quite good, but not as good as the Birmingham show. I think the organisers could do a bit more marketing in the run-up to the show, but then I’m a marketing manager, so I would say that.”

Accountancy software developer Coda, buoyant after being freed from its ties with Baan, following its purchase from the Dutch software firm by Science Systems last year, was delighted with the volume of business generated at the event, as well as the interest in Web-based accounting information.

David Turner, international marketing manager at Coda, enthused: “In the last few years, people have talked about opening up the financial accounting area to provide information across the enterprise. Under client server technology, that was never that easy. “What you’ve got with e-finance is the ability to provide people with very personalised views of financial accounting information via the Web,” he added. Turner attributed Coda’s success at the show — which, together with the autumn Softworld show in Birmingham, is expected to generate around £5m in business for the company — to the groundwork carried out in the weeks and months before the event. “We always do a lot of work beforehand, through advertising, mailshots and making contact with people, so that when they come to the show they have Coda on their mental shortlist of stands they want to see.” David Singh, managing director of Foundation Systems, a reseller of SharpOwl professional service automation systems, suggested that although the exhibition remains popular, it may need changes if it is to maintain its important position in the financial software calendar. “I think the hall could be a little less crowded. A bit of rationalisation could be in order. Perhaps the hall could be dressed up a little more, or even completely re-invented in a new venue, as some people may be getting a bit bored of coming here year after year.”

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