Succeeding in a niche vertical market such as public accounting requires a deep understanding of the business model and a compelling offering.
Xcentric, a Citrix Service Provider and Citrix Solution Advisor based in Alpharetta, Georgia, provides both—as demonstrated by its impressive, double-digit growth over the past several years.
“Providing technology solutions to CPA firms is challenging,” said Roy Keely, vice president of market strategy for the 80-person company.
“Public accounting has a complicated workflow and is subject to tax laws that are constantly changing. A typical company might use 60 different applications that require specialized backends and database servers. A commoditized approach isn’t the answer.”
Accounting is a seasonal business with peak activity around tax time. The industry is also experiencing heavy merger and acquisition activity. Adding even more complexity, most firms have multiple offices in their geographical area to facilitate face-to-face interactions with clients.
Xcentric acquired its understanding of public accounting when its founders bought a system integration company that supplied Citrix networking solutions to CPA firms.
Building on early work in networks and consulting, Xcentric has evolved into a service provider focused on the cloud.
“Today our primary service is the Xcentric Cloud, which alleviates our customers’ need to maintain infrastructure in house. Cloud hosting reduces the cost of IT, which is the fourth-largest expense for accounting firms,” Keely explained.
The company offers three cloud plans based on variables such as number of hosted apps, amount of data storage and size of Microsoft Exchange mailbox.
Cloud hosting built on Citrix technology wins deals
The Xcentric Cloud, hosted in the company’s two co-located datacenters, is built on Citrix technology. Xcentric delivers published applications with XenApp, uses NetScaler to load balance each customer’s dedicated servers and provide secure connectivity to published apps, and relies on CloudPortal Services Manager for customer self-service functionality.
Citrix Provisioning Server enables the IT team to rapidly push out updates across hundreds of servers.
All of these solutions help Xcentric control labor costs—its largest expense—and reduce IT administration.
In addition, the Citrix Service Provider program helps Xcentric stay up-to-date with the latest versions of Citrix products and obtain attractive pricing.
CPAs and the cloud: how to penetrate the market
Although accountants have a reputation for being cautious and conservative, Xcentric has found broad acceptance of the cloud model among its customers. A key reason is Citrix itself.
Citrix has been around for years and its technologies are proven, not bleeding edge. The Citrix brand alleviates concerns about moving to the cloud.
Another important driver is the strong value proposition for accounting businesses offered by cloud hosting:
- Scalability: When CPA firms need to add workers during peak periods or as a result of a merger or acquisition, the cloud infrastructure can quickly and seamlessly respond.
- Security: Accounting firms, which handle sensitive customer financial data, appreciate multi-faceted security that includes centralized apps and data, an encrypted connection via NetScaler Gateway and frequent audits of the Xcentric environment.
- Self-service: The ability to handle day-to-day account management, such as creating support tickets or increasing mailbox size, gives customers a measure of control over their IT environment and helps keep costs down.
- Simplicity: Instead of having to provide multiple branch offices with IT employees and infrastructure, CPA firms rely on a single service provider.
Xcentric is looking forward to sustaining its strong growth in the accounting sector and expanding its offering with new services, such as mobility management. Citrix continues to play a major role in the company’s success.
“Without Citrix solutions, our cloud offering would be significantly hamstrung. Citrix stays on the leading edge of technology so we can efficiently deliver apps anywhere our clients may be.” Keely concluded.
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