– Ty’s Summer Internship – Day 15 –
Even though I was in IT consulting for some years, I didn’t know much about business applications targeted for the mid- to small-size companies. I have dealt with SAP and Oracle ERP, but they are for large companies, so I never had a chance to be exposed to the great small business applications out there. So here I am at the Tech+ Conference, which hosts 80 exhibitors. I am ready to learn more about the products, especially the ones that Donny has a partnership with and provides for his clients.
The best way to learn the products is usually to play with them, but you cannot do that here, so I was brought to do “demo hopping”. My first booth was Adaptive Planning. Adaptive Planning is the one of the leading software companies that incorporates performance management and business intelligence solutions (budgeting, forecasting, reporting, consolidation, etc.). So I get to see the demo for budgeting module. Their cloud solution for budgeting is like regular spreadsheet budgeting, but it’s in the cloud and can be integrated with your general ledger, allowing users to do real time variance analysis. I remember working with the clients and many companies who still do their budgeting manually with spreadsheets. So with Adaptive Planning, you don’t have to manually pull the actuals into the spreadsheet to see the variances. Plus, it’s real time. Nothing can beat that.
I thought Adaptive Planning’s dashboard and reporting functions were great both functionally and visually. There are various types of standard reports already available in the system, and even if you need your own reports, you can easily customize them. If you want to export to Excel or PowerPoint, then there are functions to do that so that you can use the visual image for your internal reporting. Another great thing about this product is the price. Both initial setup and the subscription fee are reasonably priced, and I can see why their solution is so popular among mid to small size companies.
By the way, one of the fun things in the conference is to collect the goodies from the exhibitors – pens, mouse pads, sticky notes, eco bags, etc.; I got a smartphone holder from Adaptive Planning. Thank you!
My next destination is Xero, which became the highlight of today. So Xero provides online accounting software, which is not that unique by itself, but what amazed me was its automated daily bank feed function. This completely changed my idea of accounts payable and accounts receivable process, sort of a “mind blowing” experience. So what it does is that Xero gets the feed from the banks and automatically matches the bank transactions with the ones in the “book”. Of course you still have to reconcile each item, but as you confirm the items from the bank and the book that are automatically suggested, you essentially do bank reconciliation as you go along. This is the fastest and most efficient bank reconciliation process I have ever seen!
Before seeing their demo, Donny told me that he thinks that Xero will eventually be the leading company for small business accounting. I was a bit skeptical about his comment but I saw the demo and I understand his point. I haven’t seen the innovative product like this for a long time.
After Xero, I got to visit Avalara, Paychex, Bill.com, and Sage; and there are more exhibitors that I wanted to visit! Overall I really enjoyed my day learning about the leading products in the market, the trends, and meeting with the people from the industry. And my bag is full of goodies from the vendors. I am hooked.