Earlier this week, Africom announced the launch of it’s Business in a Box solution which, along with Guroo telecommunications that Africom provides services, has some packages that are bundled with the SAP Business One solution. Today, an executive from 23rd Century Systems confirmed to us they have partnered the telecoms operator to provide the cloud based ERP solution – branded Cumulus locally – in its bundled business packages.
23rd Century Systems, under its Devoted Business Solutions (DBS) division, launched Cumulus last year targeting small to medium enterprise size businesses in Zimbabwe. The solution is basically SAP ERP for SMEs but offered via the internet, hence being referred to as cloud hosted. DBS offers the package at $125 per month for a license.
According to Richard Maluana, the MD at DBS whom we communicated with today, Africom is now a partner under DBS’ Channel Partner Program. Africom, he said, are bringing a unique value proposition to the market by bundling bundling Cumulus with their offerings and they expect this to boost the Cumulus uptake by businesses in Zimbabwe. On what the uptake has been before the Africom partnership, Maulana said it “has been good considering the nature of the product and the market we are operating in.” Usually, that means ‘good enough but not as fast as we would have wanted.’
Under the partnership with Africom, Cumulus implementations will still be handled by DBS itself. Africom will therefore only be a bundling partner of sorts offering the opportunity of a discounted price to the customer if they are buying the ‘box’.
On the local market, as far as SME targeted cloud based ERP systems are concerned, Cumulus competes with the Chips’ Sage Pastel Online. The huge difference in price is glaring though as Sage only goes for $20 for 2 licenses a month. The justification for the higher price charged by DBS so far has been that Cumulus is essentially SAP online, and SAP is a very sophisticated feature heavy and customisable solution. We’re not sure though in terms of the actual value to SMEs how different these offerings are.