Online accounting software provider MYOB has announced plans to merge its three core business components -- transaction processing, compliance, and advisory -- together onto a single platform, a vision it has dubbed the "Connected Practice".
Speaking at the MYOB Incite event in Melbourne on Friday, CEO Tim Reed said the aim of the Connected Practice vision is to break down existing silos.
"Instead of thinking about individual ecosystems, we started to think about the Connected Practice. A single platform that integrates all of these components -- transaction processing, compliance, and advisory -- all coming into one, to what we believe would happen in the future," he said.
According to Reed, the idea behind the design of the Connected Practice follows on from the company's vision that it came up with a year ago, but never announced publicly, and has been working towards for the last few years.
"What we have started to see was our customers' businesses were evolving and changing; instead of there being a clear distinction between a bookkeeper, an accountant, and a certified professional or IT consultant, what we started to see was the progressive clients of ours were actually moving more to the middle where they were doing components of all of that," he told ZDNet.
"That made us start to think: 'If these aren't three separate partner groups doing separate things, and it's actually one partner servicing a wider range of needs for the small business, what would they want?' We said everything we're developing is helping them, and what would be even better is if there was a single MYOB platform to deliver all of those tools seamlessly."
As part of the Connected Practice, MYOB has created an online platform to give partners access to a single dashboard view across all of their client's MYOB cloud accounting solutions. The dashboard includes many of the features found in the company's BankLink product, with the company noting it plans to add new features throughout the year.
Through the Dashboard, MYOB will also shortly give all partners free access to MYOB Portal, to allow them to easily sign off on documents while on the go. Currently, MYOB Portal is only available to Accounting Office and Accounting Enterprise customers, which is equivalent to approximately 1,000 users that are engaging with over 16,000 clients.
In addition, the company announced it will be rolling out three new services, including an online ledger, Essentials Connected Ledger, and Essentials Accounting Starter. The MYOB Ledger is available now for accountants using MYOB Practice Solutions, the company said.
In Q2, the company will roll out Essentials Connected Ledger, which it said is meant for businesses that don't need accrual accounting, and can be used to manage the books and GST returns for small volume clients; and Essentials Accounting Starter, which has been designed for micro businesses and startups.
"We are focused on delivering integrated workflows between businesses, practice and partner solutions, ensuring collaboration on data, documents, and tasks. By extending our product offering, our partners can now benefit from this connectivity with even more of their client base and be the most effective and efficient in the market," Reed said.
Reed also reported that the company now has 170,000 paying customers, representing 47 percent growth year on year.
Despite accomplishments so far, Reed also admitted that while the company continues to grow headcount, it too, like most companies in the market, are finding it challenging to hire at the moment, in particular software developers who are "red hot" in New Zealand, Sydney, and Melbourne.
In September, the company beefed up its online payroll solutions with the acquisition of New Zealand-based firm Information Management Services, a deal that was worth NZ$9.7 million. It was the third payroll solutions company MYOB acquired last year, following the acquisition of PayGlobal, and Ace Payroll.
Speaking to ZDNet last year, Reed revealed that the company's product range covers a large breadth of the market, from sole traders to enterprises, and it is well placed to take on the growing number of competitors, especially rival Xero.
"They have a much narrower range. Xero competes fairly head on with MYOB Essentials, but if you compare MYOB AccountRight to Xero, then it's like comparing chalk and cheese," he said.
In addition, MYOB announced that it had pumped AU$40 million into research and development during the 2014 financial year in a bid to grow its cloud-based service portfolio -- a sector, Reed said, where the company will continue to grow.
Reed said investment in R&D nearly doubled from six years ago, when the company was spending less than AU$20 million annually. This has since allowed the company to release updates two to three times a week, instead of twice a year.
"I think the basis of competition has changed, and it has moved from a category where the channel was important to where innovation is most important. In general, technology is also moving more quickly," he said.
On Friday, Reed reiterated the importance of R&D, saying that MYOB will continue to invest more money into the area. He said this will support the investment partners are making into the company's solutions, pointing out that there were 3,500 partners developing against its API in December 2015, up from 1,500 in June 2014.
Disclosure: Aimee Chanthadavong travelled to MYOB Incite 2015 with MYOB.