REDMOND, Wash., March 13, 2003 — FRx Software, a Microsoft subsidiary, will link its company and product brands with that of Microsoft Business Solutions in support of both groups’ ongoing mission to develop and deliver interconnected financial-reporting and budgeting technology to the mid-market.
Andy Kamlet, director, FRx Marketing
Holly Simpson, director, FRx Partner Sales
FRx Software, which was acquired by the former Great Plains Software in March 2000, has approximately 150 employees and is headquartered in Denver with additional sales offices in New Jersey, Sydney, Singapore and London. Microsoft in turn acquired Great Plains in April 2001.
The new branding will be rolled out gradually over the next six months, and will include a change in the naming of FRx Software’s products: FRx Financial Reporter will be known as Microsoft Business Solutions Analytics FRx, and FRx Forecaster as Microsoft Business Solutions Analytics Forecaster. In addition, the FRx Software logo will reference a tie-in to Microsoft Business Solutions.
PressPass spoke with Andy Kamlet , director, FRx marketing, and Holly Simpson , director, FRx partner sales, about the significance of reporting and budgeting technology, the impact that tying the FRx Software and Microsoft Business Solutions brands together will have on FRx Software partners and customers, and what it’s like to be a part of Microsoft Business Solutions.
PressPass: In today’s marketplace, what’s the significance of reporting and budgeting technology?
Kamlet: Good, solid financial reporting has been more top-of-mind for lots of businesses lately. Even though many of our customers are private companies, they have investors and managers who want a clear picture of the company’s financial health. We’ve always made it a priority to really talk to our customers and understand where their pain points are. We’ve designed technology that eliminates hiccups from financial reporting.
On the budgeting and planning side of things, with the US and global economies in the shape they’re in, business cycles have become elongated, which makes it difficult for our customers to predict what’s going to happen six months down the line. Budgeting and planning are extra critical in a challenging economy, which is why Microsoft Forecaster is so important. It helps businesses see what the next three months look like, or the next six. It helps them make solid business plans.
PressPass: What kinds of businesses use FRx software?
Kamlet : We focus on the mid-market. Our sweet spot for Microsoft Forecaster, for example, is companies that bring in between US$20 million and $250 million in annual revenue. With Microsoft Analytics FRx, companies with annual sales of $10 million and greater are great candidates for this offering. Our technology really addresses the pain experienced by businesses that have budgeting input and financial reporting requirements coming in from several different departments. Companies that don’t use a robust financial solution spend a lot of time gathering, inputting and cleaning up data, which cuts into the time they could be spending on budgeting and financial analysis .
PressPass: What value does FRx Software bring to its partners?
Simpson: The main thing we do for our partners is provide applications that their customers need, which means they don’t have to write code themselves to customize the software. Financial reporting isn’t always seen as the most glamorous part of an ERP solution, but companies can’t live without it, so it’s a required part of an ERP offering. And if you want to do it well, you need to make a considerable investment in research and development. Instead, we offer a solution that fits the needs and requirements of the mid-market, and our partners are comfortable in the fact that we have an industry-leading solution that fits the market’s needs.
Business models in the aviation industry provide a good example of how we work with our partners. Boeing builds aircraft, but they go to Rolls-Royce for the engines. We build the engines that tackle the pain of developing financial reporting and budgeting software, and let our partners focus on their vertical expertise, which is primarily manufacturing, healthcare and legal and professional services. One of our partnership tenets has always been to bring as much value as possible to the relationship. We do that by making it easy to partner with us by providing marketing and sales support that helps drive sales, as well as applications that solve core customer problems.
PressPass: How does this re-branding affect partners?
Simpson: We think it’s an advantage to our partners for the Microsoft Business Solutions brand and the FRx Software brand to blend. Microsoft is obviously a highly recognized and regarded brand, and people know it will be there tomorrow and beyond. It’s also great from an international perspective. Our partners are confident that having Microsoft attached to the brand will help them grow not only in the U.S. but globally as well.
PressPass: What is the importance of retaining the FRx Software name?
Simpson: FRx Software, as a name, continues to be important in terms of how we go to market. But tying in the Microsoft Business Solutions brand gives us the added credibility of being a known entity bringing a financial solution to the mid-market. We really tip our hat to Microsoft Business Solutions for understanding the importance of our relationships with our partners. We’re moving closer to the Microsoft Business Solutions brand but still retaining the FRx Software brand because of the way we sell and the success we’ve had.
PressPass: What’s it like to be a part of Microsoft?
Kamlet: From a business perspective, it’s an incredible opportunity to sit down face-to-face with some of the legends of software development, people who have been on the ground floor of some revolutionary software. The size of Microsoft seems daunting at first, but I quickly found people within the organization — long-time Microsoft employees — as some of the most open, approachable people I’ve ever met in business. As an example, very early on after the acquisition, I was very curious to understand the roll of pricing and licensing at Microsoft. I got the name of the individual — a corporate vice president — who was responsible for worldwide licensing and took a shot at trying to meet with him while I was traveling to Redmond. I sent him an e-mail to see if we could meet. He didn’t know me at all, but he responded right away and was very welcoming. People there are very easy to talk to and very generous with their time and their expertise.
Simpson: Being a part of Microsoft Business Solutions has been enjoyable. Saying you work for Microsoft commands a higher level of respect than you get with other companies. When you meet someone on the street or sit down next to them on the airplane they’re very curious about Microsoft and what it’s like to work for them. Of course, the first question I’m usually asked is if I’ve met Bill Gates. Unfortunately, my answer is ‘no’ for now, but you never know!
PressPass: What are some of the things FRx Software customers and partners can expect in the future?
Kamlet: From the product perspective, we’ll continue to add customer-requested enhancements to our products. We firmly believe in listening to our customers with the goal of adding value to existing financial reporting and budgeting solutions. And, as always, we’re looking at new products to bring to the market.
Simpson: From the partner perspective, we see the addition of the Microsoft Business Solutions brand as an evolution rather than an event. For our partner network, it’s business as usual with the addition of a brand that’s recognized around the world. We’re doing what we’ve always done, which is to strive to create great solutions for our customers.