A week ago, FloQast hit Vegas for Sage Intacct Advantage, Sage Intacct’s annual user conference. The weeklong event brought together Finance and Accounting teams from across the country – and in some cases, around the world – along with partners and press and analysts. Sessions touched on everything from transitioning to ASC 606 to what accounting teams need to understand to prepare for an IPO.
Energy levels were high, and from the opening of the show floor on Tuesday evening through the close on Friday afternoon, discussions, demos and networking were nonstop. Over 2,500 individuals moved from session to session.
For many, the big question going into Advantage was how much influence Sage intends to exert on its newly acquired cloud financial management solution. The answer, according to Sage executives, was not much. In fact, what was heard time and again is that Sage intends to give Intacct autonomy to continue to grow, while providing the capital required to help fuel such. This level of assurance was for what many hoped—and were relieved to hear.
I took away from Advantage something more—the dynamic and growing partner ecosystem that has built up around cloud financial management systems was on full display. The marketplace which housed these partners remained packed each day of the conference, frequently extending well beyond the published times in the agenda. In fact, two of my colleagues joined a team dinner half way through because they were still conducting demonstrations long after the show floor had closed.
Because of the nature of cloud-based applications, it is far easier for third parties to integrate with them. Published API’s allow seamless weaving together of product functionality and since the operations take place in the cloud, the overhead of standing up individual applications is eliminated. Because of this, more and more cloud applications rely on data from one another to more efficiently solve a broad array of business problems.
Among the most critical data shared by applications comes from the General Ledger (GL) such as Sage Intacct, where transactions are booked and created. Often referred to as the system of record, other applications rely on this data to more efficiently address specific challenges encountered by business users working to address other functions. FloQast is an example of a solution which seamlessly integrates with Sage Intacct’s GL to automatically pull the latest transaction data to use during the month-end close process. Numerous other vendors do something similar.
I think of it like a train that is running down the tracks—at its front is its engine, which in this case, is the GL, and coupled behind it are applications that help with other finance and accounting functions, including payroll, expense management, sales compensation management, close management and more. All of these applications get important data to manage their function from the GL engine at the front. To carry the metaphor a step further, passengers on the train are constantly moving back and forth between cars, just as data is constantly being shared among all the applications in this emerging ecosystem.
What made Advantage noteworthy is the length of this train. The marketplace was full. In addition to FloQast, Expensify, Xactly, Nexonia, ADP, Adaptive Insights, Workiva, Paychex and dozens of other Finance & Accounting ecosystem partners packed the hall. Most of these partners have built similar integrations that leverage the GL data to help better manage and streamline related finance and accounting functions. It is this rapidly growing web of productivity applications that are helping Finance and Accounting teams to increase their efficiency. And by becoming more efficient, they in turn, are able to free up time to focus on more strategic initiatives.
If this year’s Advantage is a sign things to come, the length of the integration train is going to continue to grow and with it, the efficiency and effectiveness of Finance and Accounting.