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Beyond recognition: Success at the SSAs

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There may have been many rivals at the Business Software Satisfaction Awards (SSAs) but the winners were all united in praising their customers for making it such a successful night.

Spanning several categories, including accounting and finance, HR and training and customer relationship management (CRM), the awards were voted for by consumers. As many of the winners commented, it meant that rather than just feeling happy to have earned recognition among experts in the industry, the end-user perspective truly put the stamp on their achievements.

“We’re absolutely delighted to receive this award because it really validates Adobe’s approach to the whole area of e-learning development,” said David Stevenson, business development manager at Adobe Systems Europe Ltd, on winning the learning management award.

“Adobe creative tools like Photoshop and Illustrator have long been used to create content and used in e-learning and creating on-demand, online e-learning content. But with the Macromedia acquisition, we also gained expertise in the area of delivery.”

Another winner delighted at being credited for its hard work as an independent in the competitive accounting software field was John Beech, managing director of Access Accounting, who picked up the mid-range accounting award. “It’s always a wonderful feeling hearing your name read out and making your way onto the stage to pick up an award on behalf of the team,” he said. “It always feels good, no matter how many times you do it.”

There were a few familiar faces up on the podium again this year, celebrating the fact that as well as fending off the newcomers, they were still offering an outstanding service to customers. One such company was Intuit QuickBooks, which was back from its win in the ease of use category last year to take home the small business accounting award.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Kamlesh Rajyaguru, product manager at Intuit Quickbooks, who hinted at wanting to make it a hat trick next year. “It’s a testament to what our users think and all the efforts that we’ve put into customer-driven innovation. We continually strive to improve the products.”

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Another company close to walking away with a trio of awards at this year’s event alone was Salesforce.com, which narrowly missed out on winning the mid-range CRM award but still took on-demand CRM and small business CRM. “We are honoured and delighted to win two major awards, and pleased with our success,” said Steve Garnett, chairman and co-president , EMEA, at Salesforce.com, who mentioned he already has his eye on snatching the enterprise award from the likes of SAP and Oracle next year.

“We continue to win awards all around the world in all the sectors we compete in,” he added. “I think the world has fundamentally changed from the traditional software industry that we knew from a few years ago. This is no longer a start-up business – our company will soon be a billion dollar business – and the world is moving to on-demand computing.”

Pegasus Software was also nominated in numerous categories and was happy to see its resellers up for awards, as well as winning the excel-based category itself with its XRL solution. “I think the thing is to keep fresh,” said Kevin McCallum, commercial director at Pegasus Software. “Keep expanding the proposition, keep asking yourself questions as to whether we are actually offering the right solutions, solutions that people want. It’s very competitive out there these days so it’s important from our point of view that we can keep the products looking fresh, used actively and benefit the customer.”

One winner not so confident it was going to see off bigger rivals Sage and NetSuite was KashFlow Software. In fact, Duane Jackson was so sure the firm didn’t stand a chance of winning he almost didn’t turn up to the awards ceremony. Luckily, he was there in the end to proudly receive the web-based accounting award.

“We worked very hard to deliver exactly what the customers want and the way these awards are judged makes a big difference,” he said. “The great thing [about] software as a service is we can satisfy customers a lot easier than some of the other categories. It is an emerging sector. It started a couple of years ago, a lot slower than expected but now it’s really picked up and grown quite quickly.”

Overall, the nominees agreed the night had thrown up a few surprises, making even the winners determined to continually strive to improve their products to stand a chance of walking away with the top prizes again next year.

Meanwhile, for once, they also said it was actually pleasurable to get together and have a drink or two with the enemy. Rajyaguru summed it up: “It’s been absolutely fantastic to be here among the software competitors and to be voted for by the users, he said. “There’s no better feeling than that.”

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