Acumatica, the privately held enterprise cloud technology company led by former Microsoft executive Jon Roskill, is coming off a year of 83 percent revenue growth, and the company had a lot to show at its annual conference last week.
The company rolled out Version 6.1 of its flagship cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) software; a new Acumatica Commerce Edition that works with the Magento e-commerce platform; new mobile technologies; and integrations with DocuSign and InfinityHR; among other announcements.
But Acumatica also spent time looking further ahead, showing how a series of emerging technologies might be applied in the enterprise. Demonstrations included blockchain technology, a machine-learning scenario, and a demo that used Skype and the Microsoft Azure Bot Framework to let an employee file an expense report via chatbot.
And then there was Amazon’s Alexa. In advance of the conference, Acumatica created an Alexa skill for distribution inventory, tapping into its ERP technology. For example, in a warehouse, a worker could walk up and ask how many laptops are in stock, and Alexa would give a number and say where the machines are located. If an item is out of stock, Alexa would say so and ask if she could order one. (Watch the video above to see the demo.)
It’s still an experiment for now. But in an interview after the event, Acumatica CEO Roskill said he “absolutely” sees voice becoming a common interface in the enterprise, particularly as workers become more and more mobile, with voice-to-text technologies becoming even more accurate.
The strong response from attendees at the event was more evidence of the potential for adoption.
“It’s something we will continue to experiment with,” Roskill said. “We’ll watch it as it continues to mature.”
Acumatica also has been trying out Google Home, a competitor to Alexa, and came away impressed Google’s API set. Roskill said he thinks Acumatica will also do something with the search giant’s voice platform in the future.
One thing Acumatica learned through the process was that Alexa isn’t entirely ready for the enterprise yet. For example, one area where Amazon Alexa needs to catch up is in user authentication — identifying who’s speaking, and granting access and permissions based on role. (Roskill noted that this type of capability could also be helpful in avoiding “accidental” voice orders in the home.)
“One of the obvious places for this to go is voice fingerprinting,” Roskill said. “From a business scenario, who can get at what information is usually set up in a role-based manner. Having voice authentication connected to role would be a very good thing for us.”
Acumatica has about 200 employees, and because of its partner model — selling through the channel — more than 70 percent of them are engineers, rather than sales or service employees. Roskill, who previously led Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group, said the approach gives Acumatica a unique technology focus compared with some other companies working in enterprise resource planning. It also opens the door to the type of technological experimentation the company showed at its conference.
The company’s competitors include Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, and Netsuite, which was acquired by Oracle last year. In many cases, customers are transitioning from legacy ERP software products, where Acumatica has an advantage because of the ease of cloud deployment and setup.
Acumatica’s last round of venture funding was in 2014, when it raised $13.3 million, bringing its total funding to about $30 million. The company considered raising another round of funding last year but ended up generating significant revenue instead through international distribution deals with major technology vendors abroad, including an agreement with German software vendor Lexware and an updated agreement with Visma in Northern Europe.
Acumatica was founded in 2008 by John Howell, Mike Chtchelkonogov, and Serguei Beloussov, who also founded companies including Parallels and Acronis.