Tichbon, who has a telco background that she sees as highly relevant to the SaaS company that Sage is becoming, thinks Sage Intacct will be a key product in the Canadian market going forward.
In May of this year, Sage named Nancy Tichbon as their new Managing Director for Canada. Tichbon not only comes from outside Sage, but from entirely outside the software industry. Since 2000, she had essentially worked for one telecom company, for Virgin Mobile, before Virgin Mobile Canada was acquired by Bell in 2009, and then at Bell, where her most recent position was VP Sales for Bell Mobility and Bell Residential.
“I had a dream opportunity to lead a startup with Virgin Mobile Australia in 2000, and then went to Virgin Mobile Canada in 2004,” Tichbon told ChannelBuzz. “I grew that business in Canada, and won several back to back awards for customer satisfaction.”
Tichbon said that she still loved where she was after the move to Bell, even though Bell was a completely different company.
“I got a call from Sage, and this pull toward them,” she said. “They appealed to my entrepreneurial gene, and I wanted to help build out their business and its tools for taking customer problems away. There are also many similarities between telecom and running a SaaS business.”
Sage began as an on-prem software company, acquiring a range of accounting software companies that made products for markets ranging from very small businesses through the SMB into the midmarket. They were slower to move to the cloud than several other companies in the market, although their previous CEO, Stephen Kelly, began the process of transitioning the company to a cloud based subscription model, and migrating existing customers to Sage Business Cloud, which encompasses all their cloud products. They posted a growth in recurring revenue of 10.3% over the first half of their 2020 fiscal year, though the outlook for the 2021 fiscal year reflects the global impact of the coronavirus.
Sage has multiple cloud products in the medium business space, which they define as 20-2000 seats, including their X3 ERP, Sage 300cloud, and people management systems Sage HRMS and Sage People. A key one going forward, however, is Sage Intacct. Intacct, a cloud-native financial management offering, was acquired by Sage in 2017.
“Sage Intacct is a true cloud solution, built for the cloud, which is best in class,” Tichbon said. “It is top-rated and endorsed by the community through AICPA [American Institute of Certified Public Accountants]. It has extremely strong industry-specific functionality, including Not-for-Profits, NFP, professional services health care, hospitality and construction. It also provides excellent visibility for operational financial insight, as well as multi-dimensional analysis. This brings customer agility to help grow their business – including a 70% faster close rate and 40% better cash flow efficiency.” Tichbon noted that Sage Intacct already has a strong marketplace which is being further built out.
Sage has had some issues in execution with the transition to cloud, and some of its regional operations have been challenged. In March this year, the company sold off its Brazilian operation entirely. It seems clear though that Sage has been pleased with the performance of its Canadian operations, since Tichbon’s predecessor – and his predecessor – have both been promoted within the company. Tichbon replaces Paul Struthers, who moved up to EVP & GM, Medium Segment Cloud Connected Solutions for Sage. Struthers’ predecessor, Nancy Harris, is now EVP & Managing Director for Sage North America.
Tichbon sees Sage Intacct as critical to driving business in Canada going forward.
“We are extremely laser focused on expansion of Intacct in the Canadian market, and building out more core capabilities within the platform” she said. “It will streamline the process so people can gain actionable real time insights, and help customers break through from that clutter.”
Tichbon indicated that her telco background is helpful in fine-tuning a SaaS business.
“There are so many similarities, including telco also being around a subscription-based model, and being laser focused on customer success and how we are serving customers,” she said. “Customer acquisition and churn are critical in both, as is really getting close to the customer. We want to allow the customer to get out of the weeds of the day to day finances and be able to step back and build their business. Customer success is about eliminating cumbersome manual tasks, so decisions can be made faster. It can’t just be a title and a rallying cry.”
Tichbon also emphasized that Sage is continuing to adhere to the channel-centric focus that Kelly restored as CEO.
“We will stay true to our roots to deliver a partner-centric approach to the market,” she said. “There is a high level of excitement around the opportunity in Canada for partners. We are also looking to expand the partner VAR system in Canada, and are encouraging top players to apply.”