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How Exact levels the competitive playing field for SMEs through technology

Technology has had a tremendous positive impact on the competitive power of SMEs over the past decades. It’s Exact’s ambition to even further level the competitive playing field for small and medium-sized businesses. How? By doing what Exact has always been good at: surveying the latest developments in technology and synthesizing them into packaged software solutions for clients.

That was the central message to our clients coming from Exact CEO Phill Robinson, during his keynote at Exact Live. “We are investing 30 million in R&D annually”, he explained to an audience of over 5,000 customers at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht. “Just imagine: there are 1.7 million businesses in the Netherlands. A little over 300,000 of them rely on Exact Online, of which 214,000 do so through their accountant.” When adding the number of companies around the globe that work with Exact Globe, Exact Synergy and Exact Financials, that number of customers becomes even more impressive.

Exact’s mission is to help SMEs of all sizes to gain a competitive advantage by allowing them to make the right decisions based on real-time data. “We have a family of products, each uniquely tailored to the specific needs of varying types of SMEs. Some vendors rely on one-size-fits-all type of solutions, but we don’t. After all, not all SMEs are created equal.”

Exact’s mission today is basically the same as what the company has been doing since the beginning, Robison explained. “We were founded in 1984. One decade earlier, during the seventies, we saw the rise of mainframe computing. Big corporates started automating business processes to change the way they worked. Technology was only available to large organizations, as it took custom software, written specifically for your business, to work.”

In 1984 there was the dawn of a new age, in which technology leveled the playing field. “Technology became increasingly standardized. Thanks to desktop computing, technology came at significantly lower costs, making it available for SMEs. That’s when Exact came and for the first time did what it still doing well: synthesizing the latest and greatest developments, and making them available in standard packages for SMEs.”

The rules changed in the nineties and zeroes for a second time “Not just because of the Internet, but also thanks to the consumerization of technology. Amazon, Google, Facebook, eBay and Apple have reshaped the way consumers used technology by making costly, complex software super simple to use, in a massive scale thanks to the cloud. In the same way, Exact took the best internet developments and built super easy to use applications and offered them in the cloud for every smaller businesses to take advantage of.

There is no telling what the most dominant technological wave of the 10s and 20s will be, according to Robinson. “There is so much going on, like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, big data and social collaboration; there are massive R&D efforts going on everywhere. It’s going to be a blend of technologies that will impact the way businesses work over the next decade. Again, at Exact we are here to do what we’ve always done and what we do best: survey the landscape, synthesizing developments and allowing you to take advantage of those developments in an easy low risk way, to help you build your business.”

New technologies do require businesses to have an open mind, he said: “What we all need to do is challenge our own assumptions. Even if you have been working with Exact for several years, make sure that you are aware of the opportunities and possibilities that exist within our solutions today. For example, we’re introducing bank integration based on AI technology. If you’re one of the 214,000 businesses that work with Exact through an accountant, you may not be aware of this.”

Visitors of the event were shown a preview of Exact Go, the new digital assistant for freelancers. “With the addition of Exact Go we have solutions at hand that fit the need of every type of business”, says Phill Robinson, CEO Exact. “No matter what the size of the business is, they all need real-time financial data at their fingertips to understand how they are performing. This is key, especially when in combination with the partnership of the accountant. This is exactly what we can offer, from freelancer to startup to scale up.”

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