Wednesday, 10 December 2014 12:28

Open APIs are important: MYOB

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MYOB's chief technical officer says open APIs are important to allow other software developers address the needs of specific market segments.

"We have an open API philosophy at MYOB," the company's CTO Simon Raik-Allen (pictured) told iTWire, adding that it dates back to the 2002 release of APIs for MYOB desktop software which attracted "hundreds and hundreds of developers."

While MYOB's software covers many functions, the company realises the need to make provision for the aspects it cannot cover, such as support for specific vertical markets.

There are currently about 1800 people in MYOB's developer program, and a catalogue of some 140 applications relevant to Australian and New Zealand businesses. These are mostly for AccountRight and Essentials, Raik-Allen said, but also for EXO and Retail.

For example, MYOB includes job management, but "different people have different needs" and so there are 10 companies providing their own versions of this capability. MYOB's generic job management is good for millions of businesses, but "we love to allow other developers to bring their products," he said.

Other areas with significant add-ons include CRM, time and attendance, and POS.

"Kounta [which recently appeared in a customised, MYOB-branded version] is for a very specific vertical," said Raik-Allen - those who want a "one stop shop" for accounting and POS software.

"Most vendors in the POS space are unaffected as it's a different vertical than the one they deal with."

Furthermore, some tasks are easier for the end-user if they are built into the accounting software, he said. For example, it is difficult to achieve seamless integration between payroll and accounting software.

But MYOB recognises that its payroll functionality does not suit all businesses, such as those with highly variable workforces. Such organisations may decide the benefit of getting all the features they desire is worth making some sacrifices when it comes to the smoothness of workflows.

MYOB's app store is "going to explode with all the new APIs," Raik-Allen said. The APIs are in "constant evolution" as new features in the software mean new APIs are introduced or old ones extended, and this means there are new possibilities for developer partners.

The company's partners say "we have the easiest APIs" and are their preferred vendor, he claimed.

For example, MYOB uses the latest authorisation and security technologies, and keeps its APIs up to date.

APIs are central to a "flourishing accounting space," he said. By taking care of compliance issues such as the annual tax updates, MYOB can help other software vendors - including startups - better serve their mutual customers.

Raik-Allen saluted companies such as OneSaas that provide connections between multiple cloud-based systems. "They do a lot of work," he said, as a single action in one system may require two or three in another, and aligning functions such as tagging can be non-trivial.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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