Softline Accpac marks 25 years by taking its new solution to market in a big way

JEREMY WATERMAN has seen a lot of change during his career in SA`s ICT industry. And so he should  this year marks 25 years of him championing the Accpac brand in SA.

His company, now known as and part of the London listed Sage, boasts thousands of clients in SA - at least one of which has been an Accpac client for 25 years. It has offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, around 150 partners throughout Africa, and is seeing strong growth across the continent.

Waterman says Accpac has always managed to stay ahead of the needs of its customers. Even 25 years ago, he had no problem getting prospective customers to see the benefits of Accpac`s solutions, particularly its ERP solutions, which make up 80% of the company`s business.

The major difference between IT in business then and now, he says, is that 25 years ago, IT was a separate department within a business. Now, it`s ubiquitous. "It`s integral to what everyone does all day, every day at work," he says. "In fact, it takes your work to you 24/7."


After 25 years of being aligned to the same brand, it may seem that one`s enthusiasm might wane a little. Not so, says Waterman. The brand is continually evolving. For example, around 1993, Accpac made a bold decision in the way it rewrote the software, moving from the DOS operating system to the Windows platform, and writing the business code independently so that future changes in technology and user interfaces could be easily accommodated. This investment is now paying off big time, 17 years later, as Accpac moves its solutions quickly and efficiently to its thin client Web version, Accpac ERP version 6.

Now, Softline Accpac has a couple of exciting new challenges ahead, Waterman says. There`s its ongoing expansion throughout Africa, the future launch of its thin client version over the next 18 months, and the aggressive marketing of Sage ERP X3 v6, a new full-service enterprise management software system for mid-to-large businesses.

It`s aimed at Tier Two businesses, which Waterman points out are most of the large enterprises in SA and Africa as a whole. "We don`t have many Tier One businesses on the continent," he says. "Until now, Tier Two enterprises have had to compromise up or down in terms of their solutions." The beauty of X3 v6, he says, is that it isn`t over-engineered, is quick to deploy, and does the job. "It`s sexy technology for the mid-market," he says. Waterman says his next big mission is to make Sage X3 a dominant player in the Tier Two space - which means pretty much every large enterprise in SA, short of banks and large parastatals.

As if that wasn`t enough of a challenge, Waterman is also focusing on the rest of Africa, where he is seeing good growth. After a devastating few years, the market in Zimbabwe is already picking up and Waterman says Softline Accpac is having some successes there, especially in the retail and manufacturing arenas. "We`ve also traditionally had good pockets of support in Mauritius, East Africa, the SADC region and specifically countries like Ghana and Nigeria," he says. Waterman concedes the African market has been quiet due to the recession, but he expects to see a resource-driven recovery across Africa, and so, more business for Softline Accpac across the continent.

"We`ve got plenty on our plate," Waterman says of the years ahead. "We expect good growth in the company."

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