How time flies! It is hard for me to believe, but Eclipse is now in its 25th year of trading. As a result, we feel that the time is now right to post our first blog!
It seems an age ago, since the opening of our first offices in Tokyo and London back in 1987. Armed with a multi-lingual NEC PC-9800, an IBM PC XT (10mb hard disk and 640kb ram costing around £5k each!) a partnership agreement to sell the SunSystems accounting software and a limited overdraft facility, we started trading.
Apart from the very dull Aeroflot flights between London and Tokyo, my main recollections of this time were the incredibly high cost of air travel, computer equipment/software and all forms of telecommunications (particularly international telephone calls).
As an international start-up business, we had very limited cash resources, therefore it was important for us to identify ways to minimise costs and improve efficiency.
Other than becoming a reseller for their products, little could be done to reduce hardware/software costs. We did come up with some very innovative ways to minimise air travel expenditure (this involved buying various return tickets with stopovers and throwing away ticket coupons for some of the journey legs). On the communications front, we found that the most cost effective way to stay in touch with business contacts and family members internationally was to use a very early instant messaging/email system called Telecom Gold. The only problem here was that not many of our clients/business contacts were using this type of technology – so although this was a pretty innovative idea, it was of very limited use.
Things have changed
Since the opening of those offices back in 1987, I know it is stating the obvious, but the world really has changed enormously and technology has advanced at an ever increasing pace.
These changes and advances have brought great challenges to all organisations. Those organisations who were slow or unable to adapt to these changes really struggled to survive, whilst others flourished, often by adopting new technologies and working practises which helped them to improve their efficiency and productivity.
Over the years, the cost of air travel, technology and communications has reduced dramatically. From my experience, I think that quality has improved across all of these areas. Additionally within the technology and communications field the functionality and general availability/accessibility to everyone (not just the big organisations with lots of cash) has increased beyond all expectations.
This, combined with the growth of the web has opened the door for all organisations, whatever their size, to operate internationally should they wish to do so. And there are no signs of any slow-down in innovation when it comes to technology - social media, PDA's/tablet, cloud - continue to develop and provide new opportunities.
From our beginnings as a company providing implementation, training, support and integration services solely around SunSystems, we have added new solutions to our portfolio that focus on helping companies to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and streamline processes in and around the finance function.
Business areas now covered include, procurement/spend control, employee expense management, document scanning and imaging, XBRL reporting, royalty and rights management, multi-company consolidation, intercompany and branch accounting.
Our goal now is to provide a comprehensive range of efficiency improving solutions to our clients, all of which must be deployable internationally in either a standalone mode, or integrated with other systems.
Some things remain the same!
Surprisingly, however during this period, there are a number of things that have not changed.
It did not really cross my mind that we would still be selling and implementing SunSystems 25 years on. Nor did we expect that our very first European clients (Greenpeace International and Volkswagen International Finance) would still be working us today - both of whom are still using SunSystems!
So a big thanks to them and all of our clients – we looking forward to working together for another 25 years!
We will be posting regular blogs covering topics that we hope will be of interest and value to anyone involved in improving the operational efficiency of the finance function.
It would be good to receive any suggestions for topics to include in future blogs, so please let us have your thoughts.
About the Author
Gary Waylett, CEO, was a founding partner of the Eclipse Computing Group in 1987 and was responsible for establishing the business consultancy teams at Eclipse offices in the UK, Europe, US and Japan. Gary currently has overall responsibility for Eclipse operations in Europe and the US.