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Happy 42nd Birthday, Unit4!

from  September 26, 2022 | 3 min read

It’s 42 years ago today since Unit4 was launched

1980. A new decade and a year which saw Ronald Reagan elected, the launch of the Rubik’s Cube, the first broadcast from CNN and Dallas riding high in the most watched TV shows. And what else? The birth of Unit4!

It’s 42 years ago today since Unit4 was launched in the Netherlands, at a time when the world was undergoing enormous change, where technology was evolving and starting to have more impact than ever before. Over 4 decades later, there are some parallels with what was occurring then and what we are witnessing now - economic volatility, rising inflation, and a rapid pace of technological change.

Back in 1980, there was no email, no music streaming, no Netflix, no cellphones, ‘instant’ selfies were done via a Polaroid camera and personal computers were only just starting to emerge. Much that we now take for granted in 2022 was visionary and unimaginable back then.

How did it all start?
42 years ago, a number of developers at the Dutch branch of American company, MAI - which made mini-computers and associated operating software for small and medium-sized businesses – were similarly visionary.

At the start of 1980, MAI had decided to focus on the sale of hardware and to outsource the development of software. The software development team, not surprisingly, disagreed with this strategy, which was at odds with their own vision for the future where software could, and would, play a critical role.

This belief led to the entire team establishing itself as a new company - named UNIT FOUR International B.V - and that is how we started. Unit seemed contemporary, the ‘4’ denoted the four business disciplines of the new company (Equipment, Software, Implementation Services and Training), representing the systems house, and International demonstrated global ambition.

The Future of Software
The company has come a long way in that time, but the initial belief in the future of software is something that has stayed with Unit4 throughout and is core to what we do today. The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in a way we could never have dreamed at the start of the 80’s. And, in the last couple of years, Unit4 has focused on transforming the company into a fully cloud-based SaaS ERP platform, with the launch of ERPx.

This has helped our predominantly mid-market customers respond to the accelerating pace of change even faster. More often than not, they are not equipped with the scale, resources and time to invest in lengthy enterprise software implementations so our adaptable solutions, tailored for services-based organizations like these, deliver increased productivity and improved efficiency much sooner.

The development at Unit4 today builds on the work started 42 years ago – designing software with people in mind, and empowering users to spend more time on meaningful, purposeful work. Thinking back to 1980, Upside Down by Diana Ross was the number one song in the US on this date - we like to think that we are flipping and reimagining ERP software for the mid-market – delivering cloud, digital transformation and new technology, with people front and centre - and we will continue to do so for the next 42 years and beyond.

Mike Ettling - Chief Executive Officer at Unit4

Mike Ettling

Unit4 Chief Executive Officer

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 proud father, Liverpool supporter and South African.