[Email Interview] Phil Duff, CEO Of SYSPRO, A Leading ERP Business In Africa

Phil Duff, CEO, SYSPRO

SYSPRO was founded in 1978 in South Africa and today is a leading provider of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions for manufacturers and distributors in Africa and beyond. Kenya being one of their growth markets, SYSPRO held a customer day in Nairobi last week to showcase the latest developments in SYSPRO 7 and to launch their mobile solution, SYSPRO Espresso. Below is an email interview I had with Phil Duff, the CEO of SYSPRO when he was in Nairobi:

Please give us a brief history about SYSPRO since inception and how it became a global leader for SME focused ERP solutions?

SYSPRO was founded nearly 37 years ago on the principle of building and distributing an integrated business solution, and that vision has never changed. Crucial to our success has been the single-minded focus on one product line, and a clear focus on our target markets.

We have never wavered from our core competence which is to create world-class enterprise software and then implement that using a network of partners around the world. From the beginning our focus has been on the SME, so over the years we have built up an extensive knowledge and understanding of the challenges in this market and I believe this is reflected in the solution and services we provide to this market.

As corny as it may sound SYSPRO, is small enough to genuinely care about our customers and their success, yet our solution is broad enough to make a difference.

What are some of the unique value propositions around the newly launched SYSPRO 7 and how these compare to the competition?

Everything we do is based on the needs of our customers as well as anticipating industry and technology trends and this is what you will see in SYSPRO 7 where we have provided so much more functionality and additional features, and this has been done at no extra cost or effort for our customers to upgrade. But probably the two biggest advances with SYSPRO 7 are our new mobile platform, SYSPRO Espresso, and the significantly increased level of customization in the product.

Espresso provides cost effective and effortless access and visibility to all your business information and processes anywhere, any time and on any device. And Espresso is also one of the first mobile products to support customization in the hands of the user. It is also designed for our developer community to build new Apps for this platform and then market them on the SYSPRO App Store. In addition, because Espresso is built using HTML5 it can also run on the desktop browser, allowing the user to move effortlessly from the phone to the tablet to the desktop using the same applications and user interface.

In SYSPRO 7 we have also significantly enhanced the user experience so our customers are empowered to own the look, feel and efficiency of their processes. Overall l believe SYSPRO 7 offers greater business value to our customers. SYSPRO can be deployed on premise or via the cloud.

How well is the SYSPRO 7 cloud proposition being adopted in Kenya and East Africa by your customers? What are the pros and cons of taking this approach?

For many of our customers around the world on-premise solutions currently still remain the preferred deployment option, and this is true of our African customers generally. The most cited reasons for not moving to the cloud are trust issues around security of data and the complexity of integration to third-party products. But further complicating the matter is Internet availability – cloud solutions rely completely on reliable Internet connectivity and if that is in any way compromised then on-premise solutions make more sense. However, if a customer is concerned about the ongoing cost of IT infrastructure, and if Internet connectivity is robust then a cloud solution is a good option. The interesting thing is that we don’t lock a customer into either deployment option – a customer can switch from on-premise to cloud or vice-versa quite easily.

SYSPRO is fast establishing a name in Kenya and East Africa – what does the roadmap for this region look like 2 to 5 years out? How does SYSPRO plan to maintain its competitive edge when there are so many ERP offerings available globally?

In Kenya last week to launch SYSPRO 7 & the SYSPRO Espresso mobile app is SYSPRO founder and CEO, Phil Duff (centre) pictured with the SYSPRO partner for East Africa, Mareba Computers with Cyprus Olumbe and Francis Wachira of Basco Products

Business software vendors are having to adapt very quickly to meet the expectations of a consumer-led economy. In many ways the trend has been driven by the mobile phone phenomenon which has seen the proliferation of the smart phone and the Apps to go with it. The simplicity of the User Interface of a smart phone has forced software vendors to have to re-engineer their products to provide a much cleaner and easier-to-use user interface.

The age of the UX – the User Experience – has arrived and along with it, simplicity and beautification. Our roadmap, while embracing new features and functions to support its growing customer base, firmly puts the customer experience as a top priority. Software should no longer just function as expected, but it should be both intuitive and a delight to use as this encourages widespread adoption amongst the traditional workforce. SYSPRO’s clear differential is that we are a specialist ERP provider, focused on key vertical markets. This is in sharp contrast with our competitors who tend to be all things to all people.

And finally, SYSPRO is the only global ERP product that is created here in Africa and distributed and implemented with local support: we understand this market better than most of our competitors.

When did SYSPRO come to Kenya and how has the growth of business in East Africa progressing? Who are some of your clients in this region? Why do they choose SYSPRO?

The East African Market has been developing at a steady rate for the last few years. Some of our customers are Brookside Dairy, Basco Paints, Sadolin Paints, Jomo Kenya Foundation, Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation (KEBS), MEDS, Githunguri Dairy, Kenya Methodist University (KEMU), SC Johnson & Son, SAB Miller – Kenya, and Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers

What are some of the reasons why businesses in Kenya and East Africa are opting for SYSPRO 7?

SYSPRO is recognized as the enterprise solution to meet the comprehensive information technology needs of emerging companies with a totally integrated business solution that encompasses ERP, APS, CRM, Warehouse Management and E-commerce. SYSPRO 7 ERP Software enables companies in a variety of industries to maximize the planning and management of business processes to better position themselves in their respective markets, ensure customer fulfilment, and ultimately improve bottom line results.

With access to easy to view, real time information, SYSPRO 7 ERP Software allows one to respond rapidly to changing circumstances, react quickly to customer demands, reduce operating costs through streamlined processes and workflow automation and outpace the competition. SYSPRO’s growing customer base and high customer retention rates are on-going validations of the quality products and principles which have exemplified the company since its inception more than a quarter of a century ago.

SYSPRO remains a dedicated, independent company that continues to focus on customer satisfaction. Early on, SYSPRO realized that success is predicated on more than offering a leading edge product. Every member of the SYSPRO team is steeped in the traditions of honest and open communications, keeping promises and, most importantly, being responsive.

SYSPRO is a world-class company, a designation earned through high levels of service and on-going innovation that positively impact the customer. Over the years SYSPRO has gained industry recognition for having one of the world’s most effective development teams. Consistent growth, upgrades and new releases and a strong relationship with both customers and the distribution channel contribute to the company’s high degree of financial stability. Customers buying SYSPRO solutions are not only buying technology, they are buying a long-term relationship that will continue to provide significant value.

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