That’s a wrap. Acumatica Summit 2016 is in the books.
As this was my first Acumatica Summit, I didn’t have anything to compare it to, but I still came away with some impressions. These are just my personal impressions that I picked up from being there, talking to people, and observing what was going on.
Here are my top 8 impressions from Acumatica Summit 2016:
- Energy: Acumatica Partners and Customers have energy and they are very happy to be moving off of their legacy software products. It’s a feeling that a bear could probably relate to. Yes, a bear, the furry kind. After hibernating for the Winter, a bear experiences near euphoria when stepping out of its musty den into the fresh Spring air. Well rested and tired of being cooped up and breathing too much carbon dioxide, the bear feels an intense rush of energy when it inhales that first breathe of Spring air. That’s the feeling I got from Acumatica Summit 2016. Insert metaphor about catapillars exiting the cacoon and spreading their wings to fly, etc.
- Hope: Treading water isn’t an acceptable strategy for MidMarket ERP software anymore. For a long time, MidMarket ERP professionals had given up hope and put up with a stagnant situation that was dominated by vendors peddling software products from the 1980s. Look for more companies to invest their future with Acumatica going forward because of this critical element of hope. People don’t buy the past, they buy the future, and the future is bright for Acumatica.
- Maturity: In my opinion, we will look back in the future and mark Acumatica Summit 2016 as the turning point where Acumatica went from being perceived as “immature software” to being perceived as “mature software”. The engineering team is doing a good job of turning their focus to quality, not just building really cool technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cool technology, but the focus on quality is what will allow Acumatica to turn the corner in my opinion. This is not just a “startup” anymore. This is a product that is now in a position to scale and dominate the MidMarket.
- Death of Sage North America: There have been rumblings in the Sage world for years, but it became clear to me at Acumatica Summit 2016 that the MidMarket is now undoubtedly Acumatica’s for the taking. Sage Live is a bookkeeping product. Sage X3 is a bulky package that might compete with Acumatica on software price, but it probably costs twice as much to implement in consulting fees. And Sage 300 is just too old to be able to handle an infusion of youthful vigor (although they will still try with their new HTML5 screens). And anything outside of those three products are off the Sage radar, going the way of my beloved MAS 500 (watch for Sage 100 to get put out to pasture next). In addition, the excitement that was generated by Sage Summit 2015 last Summer was pretty much killed off when multiple key Sage North America executives left or were let go shortly after Summit. Unless you are a large Sage X3 VAR, I’m not sure that there are any happy Sage partners left in North America. Sage will always do well in their home base of Europe, but I think the North American VARs have seen Sage “cry wolf” one too many times. Watch for these partners to flock to Acumatica in the next few years.
- Hunger: I was impressed with the sessions that I attended. The attendees were hungry to learn and there was a lot of collaboration. No lethargy to be found at Acumatica Summit 2016. It wasn’t a conference dominated by “hot air” marketing rhetoric but by product focused sessions that had a lot of depth and substance to them. There was a lot of information to digest, but there was also a lot of hunger there to digest everything that was being presented.
- Organic: Although there was excitement, it didn’t feel like emotional excitement that gets drummed up by pumping up the volume on the music and bringing out the motivational speakers. Even the one “motivational” speaker that did occupy the stage was Alden Mills, a former Navy Seal who calmly serenaded us with story after story from his experience in the military and in business. He didn’t run up onto the stage with hands clapping, but walked up with the kind of confidence and presence that only a Navy Seal can command. There was depth, there was substance, and it was “real”. Overall, the excitement that I felt at Acumatica Summit 2016 was “real” too, at a grass roots level, not generated from the top. It felt organic.
- Leadership: Part of the onstage program during the first two days was a conversation between Jon Roskill and John Howell. John Howell was an executive at Solomon Software for close to 20 years where he guided the product from startup to dominant player. There is a definite sense that Acumatica is on the same path, guided by John’s steady hand, because there is a level of confidence that says, “we’ve been here before”. Add to that the experience that Jon Roskill has with building a channel and you have strong leadership.
- Ecosystem: I saved the biggest impression for last. From the keynote, to the breakout sessions, to individual conversations with partners and ISVs, overall I got a strong impression at Acumatica Summit 2016 that there is a definite ecosystem, not just a software company. This is something that Acumatica has been laboring on for a while now and the approach has been clear and consistent. The Acumatica ecosystem is not just a one way sales channel but a two way street, a bi-directional conversation that is taking place back and forth. Partners love that they are being heard again and ISVs love that they can re-tool their existing solutions on modern technology without having to re-invent the wheel. This “ecosystem” approach to doing business has taken longer to gain momentum than it would have if Acumatica had a direct sales team, but now that it has gained momentum, the ecosystem is in position for exponential growth.