While success isn't measured in time, a quarter of a century in business is no mean feat.
Through our 25 years, we've witnessed huge changes in technology that have impacted all our lives and in many cases filtered down into our business software. Meanwhile, our own business has undergone numerous advancements and constant change.
Join us as we reflect on the key tech changes and internal milestones of our 25 years in business.
Symmetry CEO Simon Kearsley had spent a 6-year career with Oracle managing a consulting business unit, and then the opportunity for a management buyout came about. Simon leapt on it and Symmetry was born.
He continued working with Oracle technology to bring you Symmetry Financials, the early ancestor to the bluQube product we have today. These days we are an Oracle Gold Partner and choose to build bluQube on Oracle's market-leading database.
To help jog your memory as to what life was like back in 1996, this was the year the macarena dance craze swept school halls and office parties across the nation. That very same year Dolly the sheep was also headline news, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.
Easylink was our very first data sharing module, launched just a year after the company started. At this time, most IT suppliers were trying to force customers into a suite of systems, a trend some are still clinging on to. Even back then we knew that data sharing between systems was the way forward, allowing customers to pick and choose the best systems. The Easylink module was the predecessor to the interoperable technology we build bluQube on today.
Six Degrees, credited as the first social media platform, launched to the world. However it never really took off but did include features such as profiles and friends lists, synonymous with many of the subsequent social platforms. Later in the early 2000s, Friends Reunited and Myspace really gave social media mainstream success and the rest is history.
Which search engine do you use? During the early days of the internet, if you were to ask your friends that same question, chances are you'd be met with a mix of Ask Jeeves, Lycos, Yahoo, or AltaVista, among others. These days, why bother asking... Just Google it.
We did away with the traditional character-based computing system of the time, in favour of user-friendly (for the time) graphical screens. Even 20 years ago we knew we wanted our software to be as intuitive as possible and built all future versions of bluQube with this strategy in mind.
The early internet promised easily accessible information, and with the exception of Google, nothing has fulfilled this quite to the extent of Wikipedia. By allowing anyone with an internet connection to submit information and make updates, the rate at which Wikipedia grew was inconceivable, with more than 18,000 articles published in the first year.
23rd April, Jawed Karim uploaded the first-ever video to YouTube. "Alright, so here we are" the video begins, referring to the elephant enclosure at San Diego zoo, yet a phrase that seems fitting for the opening moments of what YouTube has now become.
We began developing our tailored cloud hosting solution in 2008. Although cloud computing was still extremely new at the time, we were sure this was going to be the way our customers would want their software delivered in the future, despite many other suppliers being slow to catch on. With the limited pre-existing infrastructure deemed unsuitable, we opted to develop our own cloud platform internally, built from the ground up for the high-security requirements of financial data.
Following the financial crisis of 07-08, 2009 saw the emergence of a new electronic cash system called bitcoin. Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto's true identity may still be a mystery, but the impact of their creation is now just beginning to be realised, with the potential to change world finance forever.
It was this year that our own business made the full shift to cloud computing, moving our internal systems onto our tailor-made cloud platform, enabling us to test it thoroughly ahead of a customer release.
Initially deemed to be an awkward size in between a computer and a phone that no one really asked for, the iPad has now sold 400m units. Tablets have replaced cash registers in stores, substituted waiters notepads in the food-service sector, and have become many business execs device of choice for pulling up real-time figures.
In 2011 we launched a new bluQube interface designed specifically for budget holders and departmental admin. We were sure that granting greater access to the finance system for non-finance staff would bring about big business benefits, but that they would be put off by the more traditional system the core finance team were using. That's why we rolled out a new interface focused on bold, flat design and easy to navigate screens, which helped shape the way bluQube 4 looks today.
In 2011, our first customer migrated from their on-premise servers to the bluQube cloud. Taking advantage of this innovative new way of having their software delivered meant they were the first customer to access the security benefits brought about by The Bunker, still our data centre partner to this day.
Later Simon Kearsley, Symmetry CEO, recalled;
“We realised that a lot of our time was spent sorting out problems for customers who simply weren’t managing their IT infrastructure properly. That resulted in the customer perception that the product was poor when actually it was their own systems that were causing the problems – if we manage our product for them, then all that goes away.”
Being early to cloud computing within the accounting software sector, the initial reception from our customers was one of caution. But this was the year, 5 years after launch, that we saw a significant shift towards the adoption of cloud accounting.
Long in the works, and thoroughly tested behind the scenes, bluQube 4 was an all-new bluQube interface, designed to be intuitive to use while retaining all the detailed functionality core finance teams need. Unlike previous iterations of bluQube that often consisted of multiple pieces of software, bluQube 4 brought it all into one place, incorporating powerful reporting tools. By building bluQube 4 upon highly customisable access controls and intuitive design, you could roll out the single piece of software to all staff and customise it to their role.
It was this year that our customer base shifted to be majority cloud-hosted, finishing at just over 60% before the year was out. Thanks to this, it was the same year that we surpassed 300,000 accountancy items being processed in the bluQube cloud each month.
Pulling accountants away from pens and ledgers, MTD pushed them towards more proficient software and digital systems. An approach that had been true to our own hearts for many years. While the impact is still to be fully realised, we hope to see accountants and finance professionals freed up from manual tasks to apply their expertise to adding even greater business value.
With the coronavirus pandemic impacting all our personal lives, the accelerated shift towards remote working has been a significant change to our working lives. While more a cultural change than a technological one, the role of tech in enabling that shift cannot be understated. With cloud computing and browser-based software at the centre of effective remote working, we're proud to say the past 18 months have been business as usual for us and our customers.
July of this year marks 10 years since our first cloud customer went live. These days cloud accounting has become the norm, but we're proud to have a cloud platform that's been tried and tested for more than a decade.
This year we’re celebrating Symmetry’s 25th birthday.
By having spent the past 25 years constantly investing in new processes and technology, we are proud to say we're still going strong. What's more, over 80% of our customers have been happily with us for 10 or more years, so we must be doing something right.
bluQube celebrates 10 years of cloud accounting
What have our staff been saying about us!?