TechnologyAccounting SoftwareNo bags of cash, but better for it

No bags of cash, but better for it

There were four suitcases filled with cash, hundreds of financial software vendors, the odd journalist and Britain's 26th richest man milling around the lobby of the Birmingham Hilton hotel last Thursday. Trade shows can be a colourful experience.

Unfortunately, Softworld had nothing to do with the suitcases. That was there under the instructions of John Caudwell, the tycoon owner of high-street retailer Phones4U, in a rather vulgar incentive to show his employees what £1m looks like. Tasteful it was not.

Sadly the Softworld Accounting and Finance show paled by comparison.

Taking up hall nine of the Birmingham NEC, there were no flashing lights, no indoor pyrotechnics, and certainly no suitcases full of cash. Yet it was better for it.

The general mood was positive. Several vendors expressed enthusiasm with the number of serious leads from the show. The SAP, Microsoft Business Solutions, Sage and Exchequer stands were all particularly busy.

It seems as though the financial software sector is an area where punters are willing to spend. And that can only be a good thing as the industry has been hovering on the brink of recession for longer than I care to remember.

But in similar fashion to how football has been boosted by Roman Abramovich’s millions down at Chelsea, our sector has been boosted by the arrival of Microsoft and an increased focus on the SME sector by German software giant SAP.

Both have been investing heavily in the sector. And it means the likes of Sage, Exchequer, Access, PS Financials et al have had to re-focus.

And that can only be a good thing for the end user.

The next 12 months will be extremely interesting. MBS believes that 65% of SMEs are ready to spend money on business software.

And Accountancy Age research reveals that a significant number of companies will invest in software to help them cope with the implementation of international accounting standards.

If true, we can look to the future with far greater optimism, as companies start to spend their budgets again. And that’s without the gimmicks.

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