UPDATED: Cloud accounting market is developing rapidly.
Although MYOB’s cloud service AccountRight Live is not yet launched it looks like the first release will lack some features that have contributed to the success of other cloud accounting programs. AccountRight Live is an extension of the desktop program, AccountRight 2011/2012, which was a comprehensive rewrite of the software. Users of older AccountRight software will not be able to buy MYOB’s AccountRight Live service.
MYOB needs to address these three areas which would make AccountRight Live more competitive in the current field of cloud accounting software.
A quick comparison with Xero and Saasu is here. A first look at MYOB AccountRight Live is here.
1. Web API. AccountRight 2011/12 still can’t connect to third-party programs that rely on the ODBC Driver, a software connector that lets MYOB share information with other software. This shuts out the MYOB developer community who sell software that plugs into MYOB and create custom connections between MYOB and other software platforms. MYOB no doubt realises fixing the ODBC driver is a priority to keeping its developers on side. But just as importantly, AccountRight needs a connector to other cloud software, called a web API (application programming interface).
Xero and Saasu connect to a whole world of business software in the cloud including customer databases such as Salesforce.com, online stores such as eBay, job scheduling, time management tools and the like. A small business can greatly improve its productivity by moving to a combination of cloud software that connect to their cloud accounting software. MYOB need to be there.
2. Online interface. MYOB can claim a win with offline access with its desktop accounting software syncing online company files. But this can’t come at the cost of an online interface for opening and editing company files. The rigmarole of downloading and installing software to access an online file will just mean people won’t bother if they want to check something quickly. MYOB needs to build an online interface for AccountRight Live or make it possible to open AccountRight Live files with LiveAccounts, its browser-based accounting software for small businesses.
UPDATE: MYOB claims its software operates “100% as a software-as-a-service model” except that it uses a desktop interface rather than a browser interface. I’m not sure how this avoids the need to download software – it’s something we will have to see when it arrives. See MYOB’s latest comments for more details.
3. Bank feeds. MYOB has sold additional services under the M-Powered label including bank feeds. Right now users lose access to those services if they upgrade to the completely rewritten program AccountRight 2011/12; the M-Powered services are still being moved to the new software platform. But one of the key selling points of cloud accounting programs such as Xero and Saasu has been their ability to import automatically transactions information from Australian and international banks. MYOB needs to add bank feeds as soon as possible to the new AccountRight family to keep up with the competition.