• March 9, 2004
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Best's Road Ahead, After its ACCPAC Acquisition

The Sage Group, parent company of Best Software, today completed the acquisition of ACCPAC International, worth $110 million. Analysts suggest that while the deal is complementary to both companies (providing Best with a hosted-CRM solution and providing ACCPAC with more marketing muscle), Best needs to focus on a clearer product road map. The deal, announced late December 2003, delivers a hosted-CRM solution to compete with the likes of Salesforce.com, NetSuite, and Siebel Systems. "Best obviously need to bolster is CRM capabilities, as well as its hosted offerings," says Martin Schneider, a CRM analyst at the 451 Group. The acquisition brings a global base of about 540,000 customers into the Best/Sage camp. "We are pleased to have completed the acquisition of ACCPAC, as their applications will help us better serve small and medium-sized businesses in North America," said Best Software CEO Ron Verni in a statement. "Specifically for our CRM division, ACCPAC's hosted solutions now give us a complete offering to go with our desktop solutions and our award-winning ACT! and SalesLogix product lines." Best executives intend to keep the ACCPAC brand, but will cobrand both company offerings. However, analysts suggest the combined company still has some branding and product-integration issues to tackle, because the road map for the hosted and licensed software solutions is still somewhat incomplete. "It makes [Best] a player in the hosted market, but still behind. I want to see [Best's] road map for the entire product line. Right now, Best has too many offerings. Some consolidation and integration is critical," says Sheryl Kingstone, CRM program manager at Yankee Group. Analysts suggest the deal is quite complementary for Best and ACCPAC. "ACCPAC had one of the most flexible, well architected CRM products in the midmarket. ACCPAC did the Web-based CRM that SalesLogix really never got to. However, the company never had the marketing and distribution clout to compete with CRM market leaders. Sage should provide broader distribution and greater visibility--if they can clearly distinguish between their CRM products," says Erin Kinikin, vice president and research director at Forrester Research. Kinikin also says that many companies still want the option to bring the software in house, and warns that "a strongly supported ACCPAC CRM could cannibalize SalesLogix, something the company may not have the institutional fortitude to accept." Nevertheless, she adds, "ACCPAC needed a good home, and Sage understands how to run multiple software businesses. But the difference between stable and leading
will be how clearly Sage and Best can position their multiple CRM products for the midmarket."
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