Sage introduces significant enhancements to its midmarket ERP offering which include advanced options and functionality in the AWS cloud, improved API capabilities, and the start of what will be a major reworking to make user experience delightful.
Business software vendor Sage, which in the past several years has aggressively repositioned itself specifically around cloud business management, has announced the release of their ERP offering, Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management V12. It introduces significant new changes, which the company indicates will be just the tip of the iceberg as the product is fully reworked for the digital transformation era
Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management – formerly Sage X3 before Sage’s rebranding of its former disparate collection of corporate brands into functionally defined entities – has a name that is a bit misleading. While it has been Sage’s higher end product, it is a mid-market product, not an enterprise one.
“Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management has always played well in the midmarket and upper midmarket space,” said Rob Sinfield, VP of Product for Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management. “The name has always been a misnomer, because it is functional naming as opposed to be a positioning statement. We have never positioned it as an enterprise offering.”
The new V12 release is focused on four key areas.
“The first is choice of deployment, which builds on its existing deployment options, which were multi-tenanted cloud and on-prem,” Sinfield said. “We have added two single-tenant solutions architected on the AWS cloud. It gives customers a lot of flexibility in terms of customizing the application to their needs. We now provide both a single tenant SaaS offering through AWS, and a partner-managed version where partners can provide add-on capabilities. This helps customers get access to a single tenant offering backed by Sage on an AWS platform, with a choice of who manages it for them.”
Other enhancements have been made to Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management in the AWS cloud.
“We have strengthened our relationship with AWS to let us leverage more of the AWS portfolio,” Sinfield said. “We also work with the other cloud platform vendors, but we have a very strong relationship with Amazon, and are leveraging a lot of the technology they have brought to the market. Their technology aligns well with where we are going, and AWS seemed to be a little ahead in that respect. We are also enhancing this environment with the addition of Docker support, which we believe will be incredibly important going forward. These new containerized capabilities will allow us to provide the best level of support.”
A second major upgrade to Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management revolves around user experience.
“We have introduced a new responsive design framework, as a foundation to deliver a new type of user experiences through incremental updates over the next year or so,” Sinfield said. “This adaptive user experience will let users seamlessly transfer from one device to another. We have also enhanced the authorizing engine that lets us tailor the user experience to match the needs of an organization. You don’t need to know how to script or use HTML, so that it can be done at the field level or logical group level. It makes the application much more intuitive for Line-of-Business people who can’t code.”
The third major enhancement involves extending open ecosystem capabilities to make third party API integrations with Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management much easier than before.
“We have introduced two new API frameworks with this release,” Sinfield said. “Sage Data Integration APIs let us interact with other Sage applications, and provide a RESTful API for transferring asynchronous data like price lists. The other is GraphQL, an open source Web API, which allows a non-technical user to create their own endpoints based on their need. Creating an integration becomes much simpler with these, which can provide a huge increase in performance.”
The final area of enhancement is what Sinfield termed ‘the meat of things,’ improvements to business functionality which will have both product-centric and service centric implications.
“The new capabilities include support for license numbering that will track from suppliers in containers all the way out to the end customer,” he said. “That’s incredibly important. It is one of the most sought- after set of capabilities customers have asked us for over the last couple of years.”
Another big new area is non-conformance management process.
“We always did quality control, but we manage the non-conformance processes on goods received from suppliers, to track them and build up a library, that lets you manage non conformance and identify trends from specific suppliers for things like recall management,” Sinfield said. “We have built KPIs that go with that. These major new capabilities around non-conformance respond to another thing that customers asked us about a lot.”
Sinfield said that major enhancements have also been made to how the software manages the picking process.
“We have optimized it to achieve significant performance improvement around inventory, which has been as high as 6x, and with 2-5x improvement being more normal,” he said.
“We have also built out our project management capabilities from V11, with enhanced project planning capabilities, like graphical planning and resource planning,” Sinfield continued. “We have added the ability to do multi-project financial tracking, providing a more holistic view. We also made improvements around financial tracking, with baselining snapshots. This also allows us to decouple financial from manufacturing products and have resources collaborate across departments. Quarterly functional releases will continue to enhance this going forward.”
On the manufacturing side, enhancements have been added around the lifecycle of a bill of materials, and new things have been added around compliance and financial management like GDPR and the introduction of a new tax reporting framework.
“We have also added support for a disruptive technology like blockchain, focusing on delivering real world examples.” Sinfield said. “It is ready to go, and not just a framework. Jupiter Group, a customer of Sage partner Datel, is using Enterprise Management today to explore the possibilities of providing end customers with visibility of the supply chain using Blockchain.
“We are going through a technological evolution with Enterprise Management which is delivering foundational changes,” Sinfield concluded. “This is the first step on that journey. We will deliver new capabilities, leveraging open source technologies like TypeScript for that. For customers, it means improved customization and tailoring capabilities. And it opens up a massive developer ecosystem for us.”