Acumatica CEO Jon Roskill Wins Fans at 2014 Partner Summit

T.C. DoyleACUMATICA PARTNER SUMMIT — What’s your story?

It’s a question a lot of people in business ask. Of their customers. Of their rivals. And of themselves.

Acumatica CEO Jon Roskill spends a lot of his time thinking about this question. In particular, the one-time head of the Microsoft partner program today spends a great deal of time thinking about what makes Acumatica, an upstart enterprise software company, unique.

There are several things. It boasts a Web-based architecture that allows users to host the company’s software on-premise on their own servers or in a public cloud. The company also has a unique, unlimited licensing scheme that encourages customers to add new users, not assiduously limit them in order to reduce costs. Finally, it is 100 percent committed to selling its enterprise management software with partners, no matter their size or location.

Acumatica's Jon RoskillIf you were in Denver this week with the more than 400 customers and partners Acumatica hosted at the Acumatica Partner Summit 2014, you couldn’t help but notice that the story Roskill tells is resonating. With partners, fellow ISVs and customers too. Take Ehren Dimitry, president and CEO of AME Corp., of Towaco, New Jersey.

AME makes custom rubber and plastic molded switch seals and washers. It’s a second-generation American company that was founded by Dimitry’s late father in 1977. The company develops products that are assembled into devices that work at the bottom of the ocean floor to the international space station – and everywhere in between.

The younger Dimitry signed a contract to bring Acumatica into his organization on Christmas Eve 2010. At the time, some of his peers and business advisers thought he was nuts to commit to a young, unproven technology developer. But Dimitry believed he found the company with the exact story that he was looking for.

Acumatica was brash, honest and pragmatic — the ideal combination that he sought.

“Technology built for the cloud or a customer’s premises? An innovative, unlimited user licensing scheme? And a management team that listens to customer and partner input, which matters to me?” Dimitry asks rhetorically. “What’s not to like?”

The sentiment is exactly what Roskill is hoping to hear.

Six months into the job, he feels the company is starting to bear his imprint while retaining its core strengths. The idea to allow customers to add an unlimited number of users to their Acumatica installations — the one that has differentiated the company and created raving fans among partners and customers both from coast to coast? That was made by previous Acumatica leaders, Roskill admits freely. But the effort to push Acumatica insiders to speak more openly about customer snafus, such as the one that knocked one key customer offline for 48 hours? That was his insistence.

In a one-on-one interview with Channel Partners, Roskill provided some insights on how he is trying to strike a balance between business visionary and hands-on leader. It’s not easy, he said, but doable when you have the right engineering talent, product line and market position.

“Acumatica has all three of these,” Roskill said. “It makes my job easier.”

Since joining the company six months ago, he has split his time between internal and external priorities. For example, he spearheaded an effort to open a tech support center in Findlay, Ohio, which is home to a number of under-employed ERP specialists, when customers and partners alike told him Acumatica tech support was subpar. He also helped negotiate an investment from MYOB, an Australian provider of business management software, which provides money for expansion while netting MYOB a seat on Acumatica’s board, among other things.

“This gives us two years’ worth of runway to fund the things that we need to sustain the momentum we have created and position us for better things,” said Roskill.

Acquisitions? Strategic investments? New facilities? Roskill declined to say. But he did let on that the moves his company has made have given it options – in the midsize enterprise market especially.

“In some ways the midmarket seems like it was abandoned. The traditional ERP players have all focused their energies on the $1 million deals, while the lower end accounting software companies continue to refine what they do for smaller entities. That has left an enormous hole for Acumatica and our partners to fill. And we have the right product, partner model and future outlook to serve its needs,” he said.

Though known as the “cloud ERP company,” Roskill said Acumatica is more than a technology architecture.

“I’ve only heard of one customer who bought our software because it was ‘cloud.’ The partners and customers that we have won are drawn to our innovation, our flexibility and position,” he said.

This includes Dimitry, who was told by a rival software company that his decision to go with Acumatica was brain-dead because the company would be out of business in five years. That was four years ago when Acumatica was several times smaller and less influential than it is today.

“I’m a small business owner. We have only 10 people in the U.S. And every time I added a new employee, my old ERP provider wanted $3,000. I felt I was being penalized for my success. With Acumatica, I feel like I have found a company that is invested as much in my success as I am in theirs,” said Dimitry.

He’s exactly the kind of customer that Roskill is hoping to attract. To get more, he knows he must empower his partners. Though many are run by great technologists and business thinkers, he knows they need more help with sales and marketing.

To that end, the company has launched new training and certification initiatives. And it is looking at ways to help partners better connect with one another so they can leverage their combined strengths to purse customers.

Roskill’s ultimate vision: Empower a capable, global channel that can provide the dashboards that business leaders the world over turn to when monitoring and managing their organizations.

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