Celebrating 40 years in enterprise software — Happy Birthday Unit4 | Unit4
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40 years of Unit4

Celebrating 40 years in enterprise software — Happy Birthday Unit4

from  September 24, 2020 | 3 min read

September 26th marks Unit4’s anniversary as an industry-leading enterprise software business. And quite a milestone it is. We’ve seen a lot of change over the past four decades including the company’s complete transformation, and with it the enterprise software industry as a whole, yet our dedication to people and services organizations has remained the same.

Humble beginnings

Unit4 was founded in Sliedrecht, western Netherlands, with a team of 11 employees, many of whom came from a US-based hardware service provider. They received seed capital from an oil company, an interested prospect of their former employer.

Chris Ouwinga, the company’s founder, never imagined Unit4 would become what it is today, a global community of customers, partners, investors and employees spanning more than 50 countries.

The power of community

Since 1998, when Unit4 became a publicly-listed company, we have merged with Norwegian ERP software house, Agresso Group ASA, partnered with Microsoft and been acquired by private equity firm, Advent International. We have also acquired seven software companies along the way: CODA, Teta, PROSOFT, Three Rivers, Prevero, Assistance and Intuo.

Today, we serve our customers in people-centric industries including professional services, higher education, public sector and nonprofit. We are, and always have been, in business for people.

As a result, we have built up the powerful Unit4 community, and it is this community that binds us all, even through extraordinary times.

Building blocks for the future

The COVID pandemic has been the catalyst for more rapid transformation that I’ve seen in my career. It has created that sense of urgency to accelerate digital transformation efforts to new levels.

As I reflect back, it’s astonishing the substantial transformation technology has made over the last 5-10 years. From public Clouds that allow elastic scaling and geographic distribution; to containerization and micro-services architectures that substantially increase agility and the ability to be nimble and change; Machine Learning that allows automation at a scale not seen before; to significant changes in how we think about user experience. Architectures of 10 years ago can’t take advantage of how things can be done now. ERP has failed to keep up. 

This, our 40th year, marks the start of a natural evolution, but also a revolution in services ERP. We’re leading the industry in creating ERP that really delivers the building blocks for the people-based company of the future.

The technology and systems available now support the productivity and organizational efficiency of services organizations in ways we haven’t seen before. They help you retain your most successful people while merging financial outlook with people planning and customer success. What we’ve been able to do is fine-tune our approach for the organizations we serve, delivering those cloud-based building blocks in a way that is right for each organization, without the customization pain and expense that went with ERP in the past.

Our vision for the next 40 years

As this is a momentous time for the company and the world, in general, I want to thank everyone that has played a part in building such a great community in and around Unit4 – its customers, partners, and most importantly our people, some that have been with us for more than 30 years. Also those who have moved on but have been integral to our journey, many of whom stay in touch via the Unit4 Alumni Network. Thank you!

Our 40th year may be the most important in our history. We’re redefining ERP. And I believe our role as a vendor with strong roots in people-based industries is even more important. We understand the complexity which you face, and what you need to move your business forward.

To help us celebrate four decades of the Unit4 community, and to hear more about our new generation of ERP, join us at X4U as we unveil our vision for the next 40 years.

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Mike Ettling - Chief Executive Office at Unit4

Mike Ettling

I’m a CEO, Investor, builder of world class teams, champion of diversity and continuous learner, and I’m passionate about people. From my first leadership role in the Boy Scouts, to exec positions in the tech industry, my career has revolved around elevating, engaging and enabling people. I joined Unit4 to get the market as excited in our unique approach to enterprise tech as I am. We’re building systems that change how people experience work, and the impact will be huge.

Outside of work I’m a family man, a Liverpool supporter, and a proud South African.