Double Take

Double Take (52)

INTUIT'S PECULIAR SITUATION

Relational  InvestorsWhen someone develops a theory, there's a tendency to view all facts as having something to do with that theory, and most of us readily believe that the facts support our assumption. And hopefully, I am not doing that with events at Intuit and its upcoming relationship with investment firm, Relational Investors.

 

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HOW SOCIAL IS YOUR NETWORK?

There are few topics that experts want to write about more than the use of social networking. Reader interest is high too, although I don't think it nearly matches the enthusiasm with which essays and articles are being dashed off. Viva la hype!

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NEW BLOOD IN THE CHANNEL

The noise level at Chicago's Fairmont Hotel seemed surprisingly high during the Intuit Solution Provider conference this week, someone observed. "That's because it's a younger crowd than the typical mid-market reseller conference," I replied. Yes, for the first time in a long time, the audience in the VAR channel featured a noticeable number of younger people, not just the same dealers who have been showing up the last 20 years.

 

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BUSINESS GETS BETTER, BUT NOT GREAT

builder mt logoUsually, press releases like this leave me cold. "BuilderMT Roars Out of 'The Great Recession.' In Just the Last 90 Days, Builders Totaling 4,000+ Starts Sign with BuilderMT." But given how bad the economy has been, and the construction market in particular, reports like this help build a convincing case that the economy has moved off the swamp floor. That doesn't mean we're near the roaring success of a couple of years ago. But we can realistically hope for better.

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THE CONSOLIDATION OF SPECIALIZED ERP

Activant logoBefore the economy started crumbling in September last year, specialized ERP vendors looked like a group on the rise. Deltek was actively recruiting a channel through the efforts of Taylor Macdonald. Activant had made a nice move buying Intuit's distribution business. Few of us had heard of Versata and CDC Software was preparing to spin out of its parent.

CDC Software logo

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LISTEN WHEN INTUIT'S SMITH SPEAKS

brad smithIntuit's CEO Brad Smith has been very clear in his statements this year. He praises companies. He buys them. It's happened twice in conference calls, which may simply have revealed a course that was already well underway. But after he discussed how clients were saying how they wished Intuit's online payroll had PayCycle's feature, Intuit bought PayCycle. And after praising Mint.com for revitalizing the personal financial market space, Intuit has said it will spend $170 million in cash to pick up that company.

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SEO: TIME FOR THE RULES OF THE GAME

Tennis imageImagine it's the semi-finals of the U.S. Open and Roger Federer hits a ball that lands near the base line. "Is it in or out?" the world's No. 1 player asks the linesman, who shrugs and then the chair umpire. The umpire responds, "I can't tell you. But we'll let you know when we total up the score."

That's the way the rules for search engine rankings seem to work in the world of the major players, Microsoft and Google.  We know there are rules and we can deduce some of them when we see how well articles on our Web sites do in appearing in searches.

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VARs: CAN THE BIG THRIVE?

elephantThere's a question in the midmarket accounting reselling market not only about whether big is better, but whether big has any advantage. Or does a VAR have to become something else when it grows past a certain point?

Years ago, Taylor Macdonald pointed out what he thought was the problem with TexSys RD, now ePartners, when it was rolling up other resellers to create a national organization. Macdonald said when the dealers, who had become shareholders in the larger organization, looked around the table at their corporate home; the people they saw looked just like them. His point was that they had the same skills and there weren't people with complementary skills to fill in any gaps.

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The High Cost of SaaS?

Software as a Service may be the wave of the future. But as a one vendor pointed out, it's renting or leasing software and as we all know, renting or leasing is cheaper than  buying. So before everyone gets enamored with online applications, it's time to remember some basics of  how the leasing business works.

Given how well known that model is, a long-winded discussion here probably isn't necessary. But it generally the lease-versus-buy decision boils down to cash flow and how long someone is going to own the item leased, say a car. Generally, if you are short on cash or  you aren't going to keep the car very long, leasing is a good deal.

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WHOSE VAR IS GORED?

This summer's uproar about the meaning of the demise of the large Sage VAR MIS Group needs to be put into context.

For the moment, there's no indication that it means Sage has troubles that are much different than those faced by other vendors. True, Sage has its problems. But there's a lot more at work here than just the relationship of one reseller and one software manufacturer.

There were many comments about the fact that the reseller closed its doors two months after being named Sage's Partner of the Year. That ignores the fact that the award was based on results for Sage's fiscal year ended September 31. It was clear that MIS Group's problems started earlier. But it simply didn't get the award and then go belly up.

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