Sage also announced details of an IDC survey they sponsored showing a correlation between use of technology and both success and enjoyment of running a business.
Sage has announced upgrade to three cloud offerings: Sage Live: Sage 50c; and Sage X3, the latter being both a cloud and an on-prem product. It’s the second wave of upgrades to the Sage portfolio this year. At the same time, Sage also announced the latest data from its ongoing polling on small business and its use of technology.
Sage Live is a pure cloud solution, built on the Salesforce Lightning user interface and introduced in 2015, although it was not available in Canada until last year. Initially positioned as a small business solution, Sage has been repositioned to target it more at SMBs who aspire to grow up to the midmarket space.
“Our initial positioning of Sage Live probably had it lower in the market than it belonged,” said Mark Horne, VP of Product Marketing at Sage. “It was not positioned to help companies grow through to the midmarket space. It sits on the Salesforce platform. If you don’t have a business big enough to sit on the Salesforce platform, it may not make sense.”
Horne said Sage Live’s true market can start around 20 employees, and go up to around 300 people, but it’s really ideal when there is more complexity than the simpler models Sage covers with Sage One.
“At some point, these introductory segments scale – like when you go from running one coffee shop to six, where a level of complexity comes in where you can’t manage it all,” he said. “People don’t wake up one day and decide they want to replace their core financial system. It’s not something they necessarily want to do. It’s because something has changed in their business that made it challenging for their entry level software.”
The Sage Live enhancements include mobile enhancement, a transaction migration tool, and enhancements to the Lightning UI.
“We have enhanced the capability of the mobile app to give more flexibility on the iPhone and iPad,” Horne said. “Android will come in the future.”
While the mobile app is not yet on Android, another new element is that the Sage Live Android app is now available in Canada
“The new transaction migration tool is designed to help customers migrate their transactions, and easily bring over more information,” Horne said.
Sage Live requires some specific skillsets to sell, but Horne said that for partners who have those, it’s a terrific opportunity.
“You really need two core skillsets for Sage Live,” he said. “You need accounting of course, but you also need a Salesforce skillset, because it’s built on Salesforce. “We have a very aggressive partner program where we are always interested in growing our stable of partners, and this is a wonderful extension for Salesforce partners who may not now be working with Sage. Its also a great opportunity for our existing Sage 200 partners, because Sage Live offers a great opportunity to enhance it.”
Sage X3 was originally only an on-prem solution, but a cloud version was introduced in 2015.
“The core software is the same, with the difference being in the deployment model, although there are slight differences in how we deploy it in a multi-tenant AWS environment,” Horne said.
Sage X3 is Sage’s highest-end product, which in most geos is positioned in the upper end of the midmarket.
“Normally, this doesn’t compete with higher end Oracle ERP deployments, but because X3 originally came out of France, we do deploy it in very large instances in France, because they like to buy local,” Horne said. “The product is capable of that, but it’s not where we choose to market in normally. We wouldn’t fare well globally against Oracle, because we just don’t have the go-to-market strategy for that.”
The X3 enhancements include new functionality for faster financial, supply chain and production management. New data centre support now facilitates availability in Germany and South Africa.
“This more cloud-ready version of ERP platform, is focused mainly on manufacturing and distribution, and getting into the enterprise,” Horne stated.
Sage 50c – the cloud version of the entry level solution known as Simply Accounting before Sage’s numerical rebranding – was integrated with Microsoft Office 365 in January. At that time, it was only available in the U.K., Sage’s home base. Other geos, including Canada, were scheduled for availability later this year. The news here is that that time has come. The Office 365 integration is now available in the U.S., Canada, France, Spain and Germany.
“We also did an update of our small business study, making sure we keep our finger on the pulse of small business,” Horne indicated. “Our Business Builder strategy is focused on helping small businesses build their businesses. The data here show a direct connection between investing in technology to run the business and seeing results.” The survey was commissioned by Sage, and conducted by IDC
The data found 32 per cent of small businesses have a significant focus on digitally innovating their business, and that these reported growth of more than 10 per cent last year. 57 per cent of the respondents see new digital business models as an opportunity for their business with a quarter of the total calling it a “significant opportunity”.
Still, while innovation featured in the top three challenges overall, only 8 per cent of small businesses indicated they spend quality time on innovation. Among those who considered themselves tech-savvy businesses, this jumps to around 29 per cent.
Those who use IT well are more likely to enjoy working for their own business – 94 per cent, compared to 79 per cent overall.
Only 13 per cent of business owners feel they are ‘a bit behind’ their peers in their use of technology with an additional 2 per cent saying they feel that they are ‘far behind.’ 30 per cent did say they need to improve on their IT skills to make full use of the IT tools they have.