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Reckon carves into CRM space

Listed software company Reckon Ltd has announced it has spent $660,000 for a 30 per cent stake in local start-up Connect2Field Holdings which makes an app for smartphones to provide cloud based job management and scheduling. The move signals Reckon's new direction following the company's recent announcement that its 20 year relationship with Intuit, which owns the QuickBooks and Quicken brands, was drawing to an end.

In March Reckon announced that from February 2014 its current licensing arrangement with Intuit would end. Reckon chief executive Clive Rabie, today reiterated that Reckon could still develop and sell the desktop and hosted versions of Intuit's software, nominally for 100 years and royalty free, but after 2014 it won't be able to use the Intuit brand-names.

The separation was blamed on differing views from Intuit and Reckon regarding the best way to service growing demand for online, rather than desktop, solutions. Mr Rabie said that 'We wanted access to their code and wanted the data in Australia.'

That was unacceptable to Intuit and a sunset for the 20 year licensing deal was agreed.

Having to some extent cut loose from the mother-ship, Reckon - which last year recorded revenues of $91 million - now has a little less than two years to reinvent itself. It has a strong beach-head in terms of providing hosted accounting services for accountants, but will increasingly need to ensure that the products it can offer meet rapidly shifting market expectations, hence the investment in its own R&D and Connect2Field.

Aimed at the small and medium business market - particularly tradespeople - Connect2Field provides smartphone access to customer information. It can handle job management, job notification, invoicing and quoting.

While the system will be integrated with Reckon's products, there are no plans to force an exclusive relationship - Connect2Field already syncs with a range of accounting systems including Quicken, Xero and MYOB, and that will remain the case according to Mr Rabie.


'One day people will be receiving payments (in the field) and you won't need invoices and we think that's a very sexy solution,' said Mr Rabie. Smartphones are increasingly being seen as a payments vehicle with banks such as ANZ and Commonwealth launching payments apps, while PayPal has recently announced it will be introducing a dongle to allow credit or debit cards to be swiped and payments collected via a smartphone.

Integrating that sort of in-the-field payments facility with accounting software would be attractive to many SMEs.

While the bulk of Reckon's 100 strong R&D team focusses on enterprise, often desktop solutions, a team of 20 people is now working on the Software as a Solution product set, said Mr Rabie.

The company has already introduced Cashbook Online, the first of its home-grown SaaS solutions, and Mr Rabie said another two were currently under development. He nominated invoicing and payroll as likely candidates in the next couple of years.

Reckon is looking more broadly however as 'I don't see ledger as the only solution, we are very interested in CRM, hence the Connect2Field deal.'

Mr Rabie said that while the company was aware of other products of potential interest, there were no imminent plans for further investments in other software companies. The company's recently released annual report for 2011 revealed a relatively limited cash war-chest of $4.7 million.

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