Sage Summit 2013 Wrapup

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I attended Sage North America’s annual partner and customer conference from  July 21-26, 2013 which was held at the Gaylord National just outside Washington DC. Here are some quick Sage Summit 2013 bullet points for everyone to digest. Many of these items are from conversations with multiple partners as well as briefings from Sage.

a. Attendance – approximately 1,100 partners attended with total attendance  said to meet  expectations of about 3,000 (combined partner, customer, exhibitor, Sage).

b. Sage Partner ISM is largely out of the Sage 100 ERP eBusiness / web services consulting and/or development business.  This is a fairly big deal because I believe they were one of the largest (most active?)  Sage 100 ERP eBusiness/Web Services partners.

This is not really “new” news as Angela Goldsmith’s (former lead for the eBusiness/Web Services practice) LinkedIn showed her moving to Netsuite practice director a month or so ago.

c. Three products were pushed at Summit – SageOne, Sage 300, Sage ERP X3 — surprised there was very  little talk about CRM in  press briefings. Don’t know what to read into this as I’m tempted to just say that the execs were ill prepared to discuss.

Did not get any vibe that the products not mentioned were slated for elimination but there’s always a risk that a product out of the spotlight could be a target. For now I think Sage is full speed ahead on connected services and probably would keep all the products that they could sell connections against (which should include Sage 100/300).

d. Pascal Houillon (CEO Sage North America)  keynote closed on a tone of “you are with us or not”  (my paraphrase) – aka – either get on the cross sell/cloud march or find something else to do. This is the first time I’ve caught Sage so openly making this type of statement from the podium.

Most customer facing announcements at events were made by Joe Langner, EVP, General Manager Mid-Market Solutions at Sage,  (ie – at the Museum event).

e. Former Sage Channel VP Tom Miller  announced  as joining Sage partner  Net@Work to oversee their partner program  = most likely will also involve Net@Work expanding their programs to CPAS and maybe other VARS aka Microsoft. I don’t think this is solely a Sage channel management position but I don’t know for certain.

f. Sage NA (North America)  = 80-85% of revenues from subscription aka maintenance (or combination thereof).

g. Chit chat w/Sage Product Manager – “Is there going to be a policy against ISV’s creating non SPS integrations  to Sage 100 ERP?” (aka – will Sage start to aggressively bar the creation of links to other payment processors that compete with Sage Payment Solutions aka SPS).

Answer: Lots of tap dancing. Still does not seem to be a clear answer to a question which first surfaced several months ago on LinkedIn. Not sure if this is being actively addressed at Sage. My sense is that Sage Payment Services is a big enough money maker that Sage would like to be the exclusive payment provider.

H. Lots of data is being sent from Sage products up to the cloud (via Sage Advisor). At the least is usage data (how often modules are used) and at the most is copies of customer, vendor, inventory data (unclear on which products currently have this and which are planned).

I. Question to Sage Product Manager – can we get info on exactly what is being sent (perhaps a whitepaper) so we can appropriately include this in our contracts? I am very concerned anytime I am required to click on an acknowledgement during a software install on behalf of the customer. I’d like to be able to tell customers (or refer them to white paper) what is being uploaded so parters can get their consent (or at least disclose).

J. Big push to go back after the CPA channel. Claim that the North America (Includes Canada) Accountant Network is 25,000 members strong, Not sure if there is some wiggle room here (or exactly how they might wiggle). This area is one Sage would like to grow.

Jennifer Warawa at Sage is in charge in this area and is quite active and effective. Keep an eye on this for possible ways for us to be involved with CPAs though I think Sage is going to manage most of this directly without trying to “herd cats” by (again) asking VARS to form CPA alliances, etc (which really did not work all that well previously).

Top three ways Sage sells new licenses:

a. Referrals (which is why they’re pushing Sage City aka new online forums)
b. CPA
c. VAR

K. Sage is revamping a new online forum they are calling Sage City. It builds upon the work they did last year at Summit to provide a way for customers to network with each other. The new Sage City includes a revamped online forum where all the products are discussed in one common place. I’ll believe this when I see it become active and promoted for the long term –  for now they are putting quite a bit of time into promoting this at the conference.

L. Sage RV/Listens Tour – Meeting with 50 customers – was a very fast “concept to launch” type marketing campaign (9 weeks). No idea how this is going to translate into anything except  PR.

M. Next year Summit is in Vegas. The contract with Gaylord is up. There were some really odd issues (Gaylord reconfigured electric in some meeting rooms by installing jacks that looked like what you would plug your clothes drier into — you could not power up your computer without having an electrician install a converter. There’s also some price gouging ($8 water anyone?)…. sounds to me as if Sage is ready to move on from Gaylord properties. I’m pretty sure that the long term contract which has had Sage at the Gaylord for about 7 years (?) is done.

N. Overall conference impression – pretty similar to last year, not much product news, demos during keynote still seemed like “half done” stuff, some comments from partners that a lot of the mobile apps being touted are very vanilla and not open to customization (UDF type stuff), zero Powerpoints during the opening keynote which might be a first. Most partner attendees seemed happy with conference content – glad to at least see that Sage is carrying through on initiatives. Lots of exhibitor grumbling about poor foot traffic though I cannot remember a Summit where there has not be at least some exhibitor unhappiness.

O. Watch for a Sage Marketplace to appear which ultimately will allow customers to purchase add-ons and connected services directly online (think App Store) and installed automatically to their ERP system. There are still a lot of unknowns such as how quickly the bulk of ERP customers can be brought up to the current release of Sage ERP so as to be able to take advantage of this marketplace.

About Wayne Schulz

Wayne Schulz is a consultant who writes about the ERP industry and technology related news.