ABT weathers an administration tag

ABT weathers an administration tag

Applied Business Technology chief Frank O'Donoghue is at pains to reassure the channel the financial software reseller is still very much alive and kicking, following the collapse of two unrelated companies -- ABT Supplyline Pty Ltd and ARBT Pty Ltd.

Trading as Heartland Communications, the companies recently appointed voluntary administrators. It is a final chapter to a saga which has dogged Applied Business Technology (ABT) for almost three years. In February 1999, ABT obtained court orders restraining the parent company from using the ABT initials in Sydney.

"There has been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between us over the past three years," ABT director Frank O'Donoghue explained. "We have had a number of successful business arms such as the ABT Support, Consulting and the ABT Computer Group and our concern was exactly what has happened -- that it would create confusion. We felt their whole approach was trying to leverage off our good name in the marketplace."

He wants to assure business partners, vendors and customers that the failed companies are not related to ABT in any way.

"From our end, nothing has changed. We have a team of around 45 people and have had constant growth since we began."

O'Donoghue admitted the past 12 months have been "amazingly volatile" in the financial software market.

"We did a whole year's turnover in the six months, and then nothing. But things are picking up. This year's January activity has been fantastic. I think people are getting back into normal budgeting and the recent BAS has highlighted a whole lot of shortcomings in people's systems where they perhaps applied a band aid in the lead-up to the GST. A positive byproduct of the tax system is that it is forcing companies to do quarterly, and in some cases monthly, financial reports which is healthy because companies are quickly realising what information is not up to scratch."

For the past 12 months, the company has been quietly operating a successful ASP business model, although O'Donoghue prefers to call it a bureau.

"The bureau uses the same staff, structure and resources -- the only thing that increases is the service levels," he said. "We have seen a lot of ASP businesses start up thinking 'if we build it they will come', but they have no concept of what their clients' businesses are all about. On the other hand, we have been in the SME space for 15 years and we know the market."

Photograph: ABT director Frank O'Donoghue.

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