Australian-based accounting software firm MYOB aims to win back ground lost to Xero with an emphasis on its cloud credentials and by sharpening its pencil.
At a busy MYOB 2014 Roadshow event in Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre the company took the wraps off new product lines, renamed existing products, more cloud integration and three free mobile device apps.
Starting later this month the company’s web of existing products will be reorganised into three tiers with fresh names to more clearly differentiate products.
At the low-end is Banklink – a simple online service for micro-businesses who farm out their bookkeeping to specialists. MYOB acquired Banklink, a New Zealand-owned bank feed business, in May 2013 for $136 million.
CEO Tim Reed says the bank feeds provided by Banklink are secure and reliable. He says: “It is a differentiator”.
Reed says it will launch the Essentials range in April. This is effectively a reboot of the company’s Live Accounts.
Initially there will be two products, Essentials Cashbook and Essentials Accounting. Like Banklink, Cashbook will only be available from MYOB partner. Later in the year Essentials Accounting will become two products – one version with, the other without payroll features. Reed says only 30 percent of customers use the payroll system and that some customers say getting rid of it would simplify matters.
MYOB’s upscale range is to be renamed MYOB AccountRight and will come in four versions including a Premier edition for larger companies needing up to 50 users.
In addition to shaking-up the accounting packages, MYOB showed a free smartphone app due to be released in the second half of the year. This allows users to access data from the AccountRight software while on the move. There’s also a touch screen Windows 8 app – that uses the Metro interface – to get at AccountRight data.
Finally, the company showed off a smartphone mobile payment system that uses a hardware card reader allowing users to take card payments while on the move.
It would be almost impossible to get through two hours of presentations covering accounting software for New Zealand without mentioning Xero. MYOB showed restraint in this department – only two passing references – until New Zealand-based general manager Adam Ferguson compared prices between the two brands.
According to Ferguson, MYOB beats Xero pricing in each area. For example he says the Essentials Standard edition is $23 a month compared with $50 for the equivalent Xero product. He went on to make favourable price comparisons between MYOB products and Xero combined with third-party add-ons. Ferguson also says MYOB prices include unlimited telephone support.
Clean looking software
There’s also a nod towards Xero in the clean, stripped-back look of the updated MYOB screens. Ben Ross, who oversees MYOB user experience and design says his brief was to come up with a simple, easy to use interface. Among other things this meant removing charts from standard screens. The streamline design comes with lots of white space – all optimised for touch screens.
A remaining difference between MYOB and Xero is the need for local client apps in some cases. All processing takes place in the cloud, but while Xero and MYOB LiveAccounts live in a browser, MYOB AccountRight users still need to download software to get additional functionality.
Both MYOB and Xero are busy fighting for end-users, behind the scenes there’s another battle to win over accountants and other finance professionals who either sell or recommend software to their clients. A slice of MYOB’s presentation was given over to wooing partners with a clear message the company prefers to give them the business.