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Editor's Corner: What to Expect from Sage

Jul 24th 2015
Managing Editor
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Once in a while, when it's warranted, I'll focus my weekly column on a particular vendor, and with the impending user and partner conference, I thought it appropriate to discuss Sage.

Next week(July 27-30) Sage is hosting its annual Sage Summit confab in New Orleans, which is designed to bring together users and partners (many of whom are accounting firms) in the hopes of communicating the Sage company direction, as well as that of its products.

So where are they going and what can we expect?

The company and its products have played a significant role in the lives of accountants and the businesses they serve for decades. And if you've been following along (challenging as that may be), Sage is currently going through another massive messaging change – that of global product and service provider.

At the conference we plan to get the executive level viewpoint, which is often helpful as you can weigh it out with what you hear from other partners as well. I think we may hear a bit more on specific products and – I'm hoping – more about how Sage plans to work with accountants.

One of the outstanding issues in relation to accountants is their Accountants Network, which up until fairly recently was headed up by now Global VP of Product Marketing, Jennifer Warawa.

Building and promotion of the Sage Accountants Network (SAN) was very much her baby, and now I think more than ever, Sage needs to communicate with accountants how they are to work with them going forward. Having a new SAN lead will go a long way toward that effort and my understanding is they are actively searching for Warawa's successor in that role.

On the product side many of you I'm certain are or have worked with Peachtree – now Sage 50 – and maybe have even dabbled in Sage One – their first true cloud accounting product. This is probably the main world you live in with Sage, perhaps even some of you are recommenders of Sage 100 or even X3, which I have no doubt we'll hear more about next week.

But there's a new Sage on the horizon. One that is doing something some would argue it has rarely done and certainly not in recent history – innovation.

There have been issues with Sage on both sides of the pond, but the one most common was the lack of innovation in their product offerings. While there's certainly accountants who would love for Sage to continue to make their long-standing product line better, it seems the company is being pulled (and perhaps pushed as well) to come up with more and they have.

As to whether this new line of offerings will be well received remains to be seen, and while I am at Summit you can bet I will be inquiring with users and partners just what they think of the new line.

What I am referring to are the latest cloud platforms from Sage – that of Sage Life, Sage Impact and Sage View. These certainly go along with other cloud offerings, including Sage One and Sage Payments, but they have a bit of a different appeal. By that, I mean Life, Impact and View are in their current state and in this current time more attractive to the forward thinking accountant and business. As such, it will be interesting to see how they are to be marketed and how they are initially being received.

Then there's the company direction overall. As some of you know, Sage hired a new CEO in November, bringing on Stephen Kelly. What's also new is that it's Sage's first global CEO whereas in the past they've mostly focused on overseeing different markets: UK, Europe, Asia, and North America for example all had different leaders.

Now with this new global approach, the world could potentially start seeing Sage much in the way they see any other global business software corporation like Microsoft or SAP. These and many other companies have grown through acquisition as well, but even the acquired products and divisions have long been seen as part of the larger company. This has particularly been an issue with Sage North America and the products under its umbrella.

Certainly, under former Sage North America CEO Pascal Houillon, there was a massive re-branding effort to bring long-standing acquired brands under the Sage moniker. This next step towards being seen as a global company seems the more logical one and perhaps should have started several years ago.

Not that re-branding didn't need to happen (it did), but since the largest problem here was that no one really saw the acquired brands as part of the larger company or identified with them in that way, the process should have probably began sooner.

Mind you, these views are coming from someone who has followed the company and related products for nearly 15 years. My intent here is, quite simply, to offer viewpoints on what we can expect to hear from a company that many of you and your clients use each business day and – with regard to their new line – could potentially use as a part of yours in the future.

So until my next column, where I hope to give you a good wrap-up of next week's events, think of some things that you too would like to hear come out of Sage Summit or even after and, as ever, feel free to share them with me, on our blogs or Any Answers area. Let's keep the conversation going!

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