Small businesses don't want to hear about the cloud and are confused about SaaS. That's according to a survey by online business marketplace PeoplePerHour which found that 38 percent of small and medium businesses hadn't heard of the terms and 32 percent had but were not planning to use it.
But it is SMEs who could benefit most from cloud services as they would enable IT services to be rolled out without the established of a major IT department. Estonian company Erply wants to build on this unrecognised need by launching a business software package run from the cloud - but without highlighting the delivery method. "We need to talk to them in English, without using words like 'cloud'" said Erply's co-founder Kris Hiiemaa.
Erply offers a business accounting package that covers the same space as the likes of Sage, although Hiiemaa said the product was lacking some of the functionality of Sage, particularly in with regards HR and payroll. However, he said, "We offer some features that Sage doesn't have, such as a POS option." The Erply product also has a web shop option, something else that's rarely seen in a small business accounting package and Hiemaa said that the company was looking to expand this. The company is also hoping to introduce iPad and iPhone capability as well as offer integration with the Blackberry. The software is already fully compatible with Microsoft Office said Hiiemaa.
Estonia is the country where Skype originated and Erply's head of usability and head designer are from Skype. This is no coincidence said Hiiemaa as the company is looking for a consumer-type feel to the software. "This is not aimed at accounting professionals," said Hiiemaa."We're looking to make the software as easy to use as possible. There are plenty of powerful accouncy software products out there but they have hundreds of functions that are never used. Our product is designed for business managers, not accountants."
Most of the company's client-base is in the Baltic region but it has signed up some UK customers. The company offers a range of pricing from free to home user/sole traders up to €99 a month for up to 50 concurrent users - although Hiiemaa said that it could go to larger companies if necessary. "Our largest customer has 200 users," he said