While it seems as though South Africa has remained relatively untouched by the economic gloom prevailing the rest of the world, it is not by default. With staunch fiscal policies and high degree of industry-regulation across most industries, South Africa has managed to largely ward off the effects of the global credit crunch and economic downturn.
Similarly, the health of the channel is not by chance. Those that have not only managed to successfully navigate the doldrums, but experience good growth, have not done so by default.
“With economic factors working against them, vendors and channel partners have had to become more creative about growing their business and networks. Those which rose to the challenges presented by the downturn gripping the world’s economies by responding quickly and innovatively with new ways of growing their bases are the ones that have, and will continue, to show growth. It has not happened by chance,” says Jacques Wessels, CEO of FlowCentric Technologies, a local company which develops business process management (BPM) systems and distributes these through an entrenched partner network in southern Africa.
According to Wessels, despite economic disarray, FlowCentric has seen a 36% year-on-year growth. This impressive growth, believes Wessels, is in part prompted by FlowCentric’s clients realising greater value from their BPM tools, and the growing need amongst companies to optimise their business through tighter control over operational processes and stricter regulatory compliance, particularly in the public sector.
However, he says that much of the company’s success in the past year is attributable to its vender-centric approach which is to absorb the burden of building integration for FlowCentric into vendor systems rather than expecting the vendor or their partners to make that investment. By following this strategy, FlowCentric has accelerated and expanded its partner footprint, resulting in a considerable revenue-producing partner base.
The company has developed integration applications for Sage Softline, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP and Oracle. Earlier this year, FlowCentric also launched an end-to-end BPM application designed to integrate with Sage ACCPAC accounting and enterprise resource planning (ERP) technologies. The solution, FloPac, enables companies to optimise their investment in ACCPAC software by providing workflow enabled processes to automate and control the activities that are not handled by ACCPAC.
“Our focus on developing integration applications has enabled a broader group of partners to quickly and easily leverage the value of our technologies without grappling integration issues or placing demand on their own resources. With this approach, our network of partners has automatically and exponentially grown despite what has been happening around us,” he says.
He admits though that the sales ‘landscape” has changed.
“Sales cycles are longer as companies contemplate IT spend more vigorously and they want to fully understand the value of the technologies they’re considering buying. For vendors and partners, this requires doing more homework. More time is invested in developing a comprehensive understanding of the business case for our technologies, for every company engaged with, and mapping a clear return on investment is imperative,” he says.
Looking forward, Wessels says the rest of 2012 seems bright for FlowCentric, with the launch of FlowCentric V8 scheduled for September and an aggressive strategy to expand its African footprint.
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