idu Software

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

IDU expands its cloud offering through a partnership with Microsoft Azure



We are thrilled to announce that the award-winning corporate performance management (CPM) solution, idu-Concept, has expanded its cloud offering through a partnership with Microsoft Azure.
IDU has made its flagship idu-Concept suite of products available on both a private and public cloud platform. This will enable companies large and small to cost effectively access the full idu-Concept suite of budgeting, forecasting, reporting and analytics products.
Businesses can choose to use the IDU private cloud platform through our partner CipherWave, or through a cloud provider of their choice, or through the IDU Software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution harnessing the power and scalability of the Microsoft Azure® Cloud Platform. Microsoft launched its local Azure services in early March 2019, located in its data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This is good news for our South African customers, both in terms of scale, availability, as well as data resilience and compliance with regulations such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) in terms of storing personal identification information locally.
IDU Cloud offers world class CPM capabilities without large capital expenditure outlays. Instead of buying costly servers, a cloud platform offers access to state-of-the-art infrastructure, security, reliability, scalability and performance.
Businesses can get up and running quickly with the IDU Cloud (SaaS) offering. 
The solution is constantly updated to the newest release, which ensures our cloud customers will always work with the latest functionality, without having to worry about software installation and upgrades.
Decision makers can have instant access through the cloud to critical business insights securely, anywhere and anytime, through a computer or any internet-enabled mobile devise.
Click here to find out more




Thursday, 7 March 2019

SA accountancy tech leaders team up to ease budgeting and compliance



IDU, the corporate performance management (CPM) software company that transforms the budgeting, forecasting and reporting process for medium and large businesses, has partnered with Draftworx, which provides tools to automate and remove the complexity of International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) financial statements, to close the loop for clients every month.

The commonalities and synergies between the two companies are remarkable. IDU offers an easy-to-use, yet enterprise-grade budgeting tool that Gartner has named as one of the top financial planning applications for the last two years and G2 Crowd has ranked in the top three global solutions for 2019. Draftworx is the first browser-based IFRS financial reporting tool in the world. Both are successful South African-founded accountancy technology companies and are owner-founder managed, with highly skilled financial teams. Both companies set out to simplify and streamline onerous yet essential accountancy tasks, freeing up accountants and auditors to do more interesting, strategically valuable work for their clients and companies.

IDU has integrated Draftworx service into its idu-Concept platform, so that at the press of a button, clients can automatically generate up to 80% of the data they need for their IFRS and eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) reports, ready for importing into Draftworx. This will expose IDU’s corporate client base, typically mid to enterprise companies across all industry sectors, to Draftworx’s capabilities. Conversely, Draftworx will introduce IDU’s expertise and services to both corporate and practice clients.

“We’ve always been single-minded about doing one thing very well: making the budgeting, forecasting and reporting process less onerous, faster, more collaborative and more accurate,” said Kevin Phillips, IDU co-founder and CEO. “So in response to customer requirements, especially in light of the updated rulings around XBRL submission to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) in South Africa, and anticipating increased regulatory demand into the future, it makes perfect sense to partner with Draftworx, a trusted provider that we work with very well, for a comprehensive service for our respective clients.”

As well as XBRL submissions, Draftworx also supports accountants with meeting increasing IFRS requirements. It has created specific templates for various unique requirements in several countries, and is rolling out additional templates to meet demand. In addition, Draftworx is developing a US GAAP template, which dovetails perfectly with IDU’s recent announcement of its expansion into the Americas market.

“IDU takes care of the monthly budgets, forecasts and reporting, managing information from exco down and through the organisation; while we look after the annual financial side and help our customers meet their respective statutory obligations, managing information from exco up and outside the organisation,” said Earl Steyn, Draftworx founder and director. “This integration and partnership means that all of a company’s reporting is taken care of, in a smarter way.”

The partnership was announced at the 10th Annual IDU User Conference, held in Cape Town, South Africa at the end of February 2019. Financial managers, accountants and administrators, plus IT managers from a range of industries and countries came together to discuss how responsive and collaborative budgeting, and real-time access to the numbers can help companies adapt quickly to constant and rapid change. 

About IDU

IDU, idusoft.com, makes budgeting, forecasting, performance management and reporting tools to simplify financial management. Our flagship product, idu-Concept, provides easy, effective budgeting and financial reporting for medium-sized to large businesses. It is the most widely deployed dedicated budgeting system in South Africa with an ever increasing global footprint. idu-Concept integrates easily with ERP software, but unlike more cumbersome offerings, idu-Concept can be implemented quickly, requires little or no ongoing consulting fees and reduces budgeting cycles from months to weeks. idu-Concept, available on premise, as a hosted solution or in the cloud, addresses this establishing a platform of ownership and empowerment that inevitably leads to radical improvement in the effective management control of every business. IDU is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.

About Draftworx

Draftworx™, www.draftworx.com, is a fully integrated, compliant, automated drafting and working paper suite designed to alleviate problems identified in current drafting, working paper and audit software. It’s the result of collaboration with some of the world’s greatest accounting & auditing minds. The solution includes financial statements, XBRL reporting, working papers, audit methodologies, collaboration tools and digital signatures in an affordable desktop, cloud and hybrid variant.

Friday, 1 March 2019

South African financial services software company IDU expands to the Americas


IDU, the corporate performance management (CPM) software company that transforms the budgeting, forecasting and reporting process for medium and large businesses, today announced its expansion to the Americas region with the launch of IDU Americas.

Companies in North, Central and South America can now say good-bye to complicated, error-prone spreadsheets and instead finalise their budgets in a fraction of the time, working collaboratively and constructively with non-financial managers. Inefficient budgeting, forecasting and reporting can have a large impact on a company’s bottom line, and IDU helps companies increase transparency between departments, reduces the admin load on the finance department, speeds up budgeting to days, not weeks, and reduces errors.

IDU Americas is headed up by Scott Jennings, managing director, a business intelligence and CPM veteran with extensive industry experience and relationships. Based in Austin, Texas, a local team will support American customers in their own time zones.

Founded in Cape Town, IDU now has distribution hubs in Johannesburg, Durban, London, Dubai and Auckland. IDU is currently used by 35,000 people, at 300 customers in 33 countries around the world. It’s oldest customers have been with it since inception in 2001. Research house, Gartner has named IDU one of the top financial planning applications for the last two years, and review platform G2 Crowd listed the company as a high performer for 2019, based on customer feedback and reviews. Specifically customers value IDU’s rapid implementation process, its user-friendly nature, and the high levels of customer support.

“IDU has nailed the combination of being both easy-to-use and enterprise-grade, which is not a simple thing to do,” said Jennings. “This, plus proven technology that is built on a platform that appeals to the SMB through to enterprise market, including Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Azure, Power BI, Excel, Power Pivot and so on, is a winning formula. Then, add that the company is owner-founder managed, with a highly-skilled financial services orientated team, and the package is something I know that fills a gap in the growing American mid-market and solves a real, specific problem for companies.”

“Although our software is available, and used, via the cloud anywhere around the globe, as accountants we’ve always taken a very cautious approach to physical expansion, never underestimating the complexities of arriving in a new territory. With Scott at the helm, however, we have the perfect local partner who knows the market, understands what we do and will help grow our business,” said Kevin Phillips, IDU co-founder and CEO.

The news was announced at the 10th Annual IDU User Conference, held in Cape Town, South Africa at the end of February 2019. Financial managers, accountants and administrators, plus IT managers from a range of industries and countries came together to discuss how responsive and collaborative budgeting, and real-time access to the numbers can help companies adapt quickly to constant and rapid change.


Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Cryptocurrencies and the innovation/regulation conundrum



It is inevitable that regulation lags innovation: look at home DNA testing kits, for instance. Already an ethical minefield from a privacy point of view, one of the largest service providers, FamilyTreeDNA recently admitted it was running DNA matches against its database for the FBI. On the one hand, great news for justice and already some cold cases dating back years have been solved. But on the other, what does this mean for individual privacy and confidentiality? It’s one thing for customers to opt in to sharing their data, but, what about their relatives? And furthermore, what are the implications for individual DNA data being used in research for commercial gain?

Cryptocurrencies and the blockchain are another example of this lag. Regulation around the world veers from China’s heavy-handed approach, and Japan stopping granting licences to crypto exchanges in response to massive hacks in the last few years. On the other hand, countries such as Malta, Bermuda and Switzerland have actively welcomed the innovation.

In South Africa, the Crypto Assets Regulatory Working Group, an intergovernmental fintech working group, released a consultation paper on policy proposals for crypto assets (it balks at using the term “currency”) in January 2019. While the group does not go so far as to welcome cryptocurrencies and the related ecosystem, it does take a measured approach based on a principle of “do not harm”. It suggests regulating the specific risks that have come to pass – mostly to do with consumer protection, and anti-crime and money laundering – but only dealing with more generic risks – such as undermining the central bank’s sovereignty, or financial stability in the country – when they happen. It also takes a technology neutral stance and favours amending existing legislation, rather than creating new laws.

For now though, although the trend is towards tightening up, and they have not ruled out a complete ban. The first step that is planned will be registering the various stakeholders in the ecosystem.

So phased and dynamic are the watch words for the moment, and while I do believe that this is the right approach, my big concern is the speed which innovation can catch hold and outpace regulation, a bit like a veld fire: one minute it is a braai, the next minute the whole mountain is alight! We have seen how rapidly technology can adapt and change, morphing virtually overnight and spreading virally.

Crypto and more particularly blockchain technologies have the ability to do just this. A hands-off and keep a watchful eye approach can rapidly become a flat spin in an attempt to catch up. But, far from wanting to double-down on regulation now to prevent this, I am concerned that this panic is the time when regulators and lawmakers bolt the stable door and ban new technologies outright, because this is now the only recourse to get a grip on things again. That is not where we want to be.

There is always going to be a need to balance innovation with trust, consumer protection and preventing crime. But I also wonder whether sometimes these are red herrings, behind which traditional industries hide, in order to protect their aging business model for as long as possible. Which, ultimately, slows the entrance of efficiencies, increased access and increased productivity from entering the market, costing all of us time and money. (And the sheer frustration of knowing there is a better way to do something, but it’s just not available yet.)

This is the Shirky Principle, named after the digital commentator and writer, Clay Shirky, who said: “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”

Could this principle be driving the moral panic around cryptocurrencies from governments, regulators and the financial services industry? To be sure, banks around the world are looking at how they can apply blockchain technology, which underpins cryptocurrencies, internally – but this is a very different beast to the free-range, decentralised blockchain applications driving cryptocurrencies outside of the banking industry.

And these free-range applications are what are driving the ability for, amongst other things, transactions to take place faster, and more cost-effectively. The ability to streamline payments around the world seems like a good idea for everyone except the banks. Being able to reduce the cost for people to send remittances home to support their families is certainly a good thing. The ability for a global business to transfer money around the world instantly, without it being held onto by banks unnecessarily – allowing them to triple dip: they get paid once by the transactor, and then win again on the exchange rate, and a third time by holding onto the business’s money for days or weeks – also seems like a good idea.

We’d do well, I’d argue, to avoid getting sucked into a moral panic manufactured by those that have the most to lose.

As published in ITWeb 7 February 2019

Thursday, 24 January 2019

IDU wins a High Performer award in the CPM industry category of the G2 Crowd 2019 Winter Report



IDU has been identified as a High Performer in the Corporate Performance Management (CPM) industry by the prestigious G2 Crowd 2019 Winter Report.

The report which ranks and compares leading CPM solutions based on market presence and customer satisfaction ratings was released earlier this month.

“Rankings on G2 Crowd reports are based on data provided to us by real users,” said Michael Fauscette, chief research officer, G2 Crowd. “We are excited to share the achievements of the products ranked on our site because they represent the voice of the user and offer terrific insights to potential buyers around the world.”

According to G2 Crowd, “High Performers provide products that are highly rated by their users, but have not yet achieved the market share and scale of the vendors in the Leader category.”

 We are incredibly grateful to our customers for sharing their recommendations. We strive to deliver a combination of the best possible product, user experience and support to our customers, and this feedback shows we are on the right track.” says Kevin Phillips, CEO, IDU.

We wanted to share some of the amazing feedback we received from our customers in their reviews:

“IDU is not only a great and easy to use budgeting application, but helps drive day to day ownership of business unit or departmental budgets, cost management, revenue growth and variance reporting by the business unit or department leaders.”

“IDU is excellent and user friendly, it gives you the ability to view your financial data in the most effective and simplistic way possible. This software can be used by everyone (including a non-financial user).”

“IDU offers excellent software and support.”

To read the full list of reviews please visit the IDU page on G2 Crowd. 

Read more about IDU or to schedule a demo of our software visit our website at www.idusoft.com.

About G2 Crowd
G2 Crowd, the world’s leading business solution review platform, leverages more than 440,000 user reviews to drive better purchasing decisions. Business professionals, buyers, investors, and analysts use the site to compare and select the best software and services based on peer reviews and synthesized social data. Every month, more than one million people visit G2 Crowd’s site to gain unique insights. Co-founded by the founder and former executives of SaaS leaders like BigMachines (acquired by Oracle) and SteelBrick (acquired by Salesforce) and backed by more than $45 million in capital, G2 Crowd aims to bring authenticity and transparency to the business marketplace. For more information, go to G2Crowd.com.




Thursday, 17 January 2019

Can blockchain and POPI be friends?




Inevitably innovation challenges the typical ways of doing things and regulation always seems to lag progress. How can we balance protecting personal identification information with the opportunities offered by blockchain?

There’s no doubt that 2018 was the year that the protection of personal information became front of mind, whether through data breaches, Facebook sharing information for dubious purposes, or the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the still pending roll out of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) in South Africa. Depending on your perspective, 2018 was when we finally started ensuring companies take their responsibilities seriously, or the year we started breaking things and stifling innovation by trying to protect personal information in inappropriate ways. (It’s probably a bit of both.) 

Take POPI and blockchain, for instance. Blockchain is the distributed ledger technology that underlies cryptocurrencies, but also can be used to power many other things. For instance, Malta is looking at a blockchain-powered land and health registry. And Estonians can log into their blockchain-based healthcare registry and see exactly who has accessed their details.

The savings alone that blockchain offers are staggering. Goldman Sachs estimates that the securities industry could save $11 - $12 billion in fees by using blockchain to remove errors in the clearing and settlement of cash securities. And we have only started to scratch the surface of what blockchain technology will allow us to do. It’s useful to think of blockchain as an operating system, like Microsoft Windows or Apple OS. The really exciting stuff is what people will develop on top of it. 


A fundamental feature of a blockchain, what makes it so useful for storing important records, is that it can never be erased or rewritten. But wait a minute, what about the right to be forgotten, to have personal data deleted, especially from the internet? This is explicit in GDPR, which any South African company dealing with customers in the European Union has to comply with, and implied by POPI, which says that people can request their personal information and records be corrected or deleted. 

Does this mean we have to choose? Remain stuck in the past and miss out on the promise of what blockchain will enable for us and our customers, or risk the fines threatened by POPI and GDPR and the brand damage associated with non-compliance? Alternatively, do we water down blockchain technology, and its capabilities and promise? Can you imagine if almost 40 years ago, we severely constrained an aspect of the brand-new Microsoft Windows interface manager? What would we have missed out on? Let’s not do that with blockchain, either.

Blockchain 101
Unlike central registries controlled by a single authority, say a bank, blockchain ledgers are spread out over a number of anonymous computers, connected on a peer-to-peer basis. The people involved don’t have to know, or even trust, each other. Transactions are announced to the group and recorded by everyone. At set intervals a section of the ledger, called a block, is locked irreversibly using cryptography and information from the previous block, and added to the blockchain. Working on the principle that the majority is honest, if any copy of the block on the network doesn’t match that of the others, it is replaced with information the majority agree on. In other words, the longest block is the true one.





Thursday, 13 December 2018

Does GDPR spoil the blockchain party for everyone?


 Image result for balloons popping

In a constantly and rapidly changing world, I wonder if a large part of the blockchain’s appeal isn’t its durability, its steadfastness, its immutability. And this characteristic – that it can’t be changed – is definitely one the very many advantages of the blockchain, and the future services running on it. Cut out the corruption, inefficiencies, fraud and plain old human error in transactions in one fell swoop.

But, what happens when the irresistible appeal of the blockchain, and we’ve hardly even begun to scratch the surface of what it will enable, comes up against the immovable object that is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? I’ve had a bone or two to pick with the GDPR before, both in terms of the likely burden it places on small and medium businesses , and also the impracticability of the right to request your personal identification be erased  and the knock on effects this can have of actually running a business.

Now, I’m wondering what impact this right to be forgotten will have on the potential of the blockchain, given that it seems to be entirely at odds with how the blockchain operates, and hence the value and disruption it, as a decentralised ledger, can deliver.

A quick recap. The, as yet mostly untested, GDPR gives individuals the right to request an organisation delete their personal identification information in certain circumstances. These include that the data is no longer needed for the reason it was originally collected; when the individual withdraws their consent that their data be stored or objects to its being processed; if the data is being stored in breach of the GDPR; to comply with a legal obligation; or if the personal data belongs to a child.

As yet, it’s unclear what erase means, especially within a digital context. Does it mean erase entirely or just make it inaccessible? In my previous article  I discussed some of the knock-on effects this can have in the pre-blockchain world, but now let’s consider what this means for a world built on the blockchain.

Unlike central registries controlled by a single authority, say a bank, public blockchain ledgers are spread out over a number of anonymous computers, connected on a peer-to-peer basis. The people involved don’t have to know, or even trust, each other. Transactions are announced to the group and recorded by everyone. At set intervals a section of the ledger, called a block, is locked irreversibly using cryptography and a piece of information from the previous block, and added to the chain. Working on the principle that the majority is honest, if any copy of the block on the network doesn’t match that of the others it is replaced with information the majority agree on. In other words, the longest chain is the true one.

Although best known for powering crypto-currencies, blockchain can also be used for many other things. For instance, Malta is looking at a blockchain-based land and health registry. And Estonians can log into their blockchain healthcare registry and see exactly who has accessed their details. The savings alone that blockchain offers are staggering. Goldman Sachs estimates that the securities industry could save $11 to $12 billion in fees by using blockchain to remove errors in the clearing and settlement of cash securities.

So, what happens then, in the case of Estonia say, when a citizen requests their personal identification information be erased in compliance with the GDPR. Leaving aside the havoc this will play with their ability to access healthcare, how does this play out? Do all the nodes on the blockchain have to agree to roll back their chain and amend the block? In principle this could happen, but it would be a lengthy process, and will put the chain out of action for the duration. And what about subsequent blocks that contain information based on the data in the amended block? Or a computer that was part of the original chain, but has since exited, for whatever reason. It would be impossible to track them down to see if the data is still lurking somewhere on their hard drive. And what happens if the network of blockchain nodes simply refuses? There is nothing really in it for them, after all, and it goes against the spirit of blockchain, which is a fiercely protected thing. Plus, who will the EU or national GDPR enforcers punish? Who are the data controllers and processers now?

Of course, private, permissioned, blockchains are a slightly different matter as it can be easier to gain consensus from the nodes for a deletion. But again, this starts impacting the value of blockchain and its immutability and decentralised nature, as well as raising issues around governance: as accountants, we know that you don’t correct an incorrect debit by deleting it, but rather with a credit.

Alternatively, and maintaining a level of governance, are solutions such as the one Accenture has prototyped that allows blocks to be edited, re-written or removed without breaking the chain. Plus, the edit leaves a “scar” so it is clear that the block has been changed. Accenture argues that the ability to modify the blockchain is required to make it commercially viable. Their prototype, they further argue, doesn’t downgrade blockchain to a regular database though, as organisation still get the benefits of data resiliency, integrity and security supplied by the built-in cryptography. Purists would definitely not agree, and I would have to say that they have a point.

Nevertheless, this is a stark illustration of how regulation and security very often lag innovation, and, if we are not careful, can bog it down or stop it in its tracks altogether. With GDPR still in its infancy, and the plan being to finetune the regulation during the first court cases, I wouldn’t want to be one of the vanguard guinea pig organisations that this gets tested on.


As published in Accountingweb - 28th November 2018