Sage makes key AI announcement at Sage Transform around Sage Copilot

Sage Copilot is a new AI-based productivity assistant, whose AI has been specifically trained around accounting rules and best practices, and which is designed to help SMBs make better business decisions.

LAS VEGAS – At the Sage Transform event here on Tuesday, Sage introduced their new generative AI-powered productivity assistant, Sage Copilot, which is designed to rethink and rework accounting, finance and people management processes, and empower customers to make smarter business decisions.

“Sage Copilot will act as a trusted member of the team,” said Steve Hare, Sage’s CEO. “It is a dedicated AI productivity assistant that will change your life.”

Sage Copilot will handle administrative and repetitive tasks in ‘real time,’ while also recommending ways to make savings and drive business improvements. In addition, it reduces routine tasks and will create more time and space for customers to focus on growing and scaling their businesses.  Its focus is specifically on the SMB market.

“We have been consistent with our vision since 2017,” said Aaron Harris, Sage’s CTO. “Accountants are stuck in cycles that do not add what you want them to add. Our vision is three pieces – continuous account, continuous assurance you can trust, so you can focus on continuous insight. Copilot makes all that happen faster. It also enables the rest of the business to access accounting. Secondly, and most magically, we are advancing from simple task automation to complete workflow automation.” Copilot will also work across each product, and is not different for each one.”

Some of the attendees at Transform were wondering what exactly the difference is between Sage Copilot and the similarly named Microsoft Copilot. The difference is huge, said Marc Monday, Vice President, Global Partner Strategy & Alliances at Sage.

“The AI model that we trained and that we invested in with Sage Copilot is specifically accounting-based,” Monday said. “There are specific accounting rules. Much of the data comes from Sage but any data that is customer data would require them to opt in. It’s also all accounting standards and best practices based.”

“Sage Copilot is a real game changer in so many ways,” said Eduardo Rosini, Chief Growth Officer at Sage, who came to the company fairly recently to work with partners and alliances, then when the company was restructured became the Chief Growth Officer, a newly created position. He oversees all Go-to-Market programs, to keep customers happy and keep them close to Sage.

“We already had Recommendations, a classic machine learning interface,” he said. “Now we can ask things like what will be the impact on cashflow if we hire five more people. It’s significantly advanced over what we had before, Typical LLMs are very good at generic LLM, but this gives more complete answers with an accounting LLM.

“Everything we do now with Copilot will be part of the partner program as well, and those with access to Sage Network will also have access, Rosini added. “It’s not free, but we haven’t announced the pricing.”

In terms of the type of customer who is likely to buy this, Rosini pointed out that it is early days.

“We have learned both small and large companies are interested, for different reasons,” he said. “Small business couldn’t do this before, because they couldn’t do things like hire a team. Larger customers can do things in a more efficient way, because it frees up time to do up other things.”

The Sage Copilot AI assistant automates workflows, identifies errors and generates actionable insights unique to each business and accountant’s practice. It  helps with forecasting, cashflow management and generating and sending invoices with simple, natural language commands. Sage Copilot security and trust have been prioritized every step of the way, with robust encryption, access controls, and compliance with data protection regulations.

Sage Copilot’s proactive options to improve cash flow include suggestions to accelerate customer payments, enhance working capital and support smarter financial decisions. It provides insights and custom reports to support decision-making, including quick cash flow analysis and recommendations for financial improvements. It also simplifies organizing tasks with personalized lists, prioritizing them based on urgency, and automating repetitive tasks, saving time and effort. It also integrates with other apps and services, creating a seamless workflow for users.

“It embraces working with Excel,” Hare noted.

For accountants, Sage Copilot will revolutionize collaboration and communication with clients. By automating the data collection and aggregation process, it will significantly reduce the time and effort spent on these manual tasks, while also minimizing errors that might occur.

“Sage Copilot shows just how serious we are about eliminating the close,” said Sage CTO Aaron Harris. “We spend about 25% of our time in accounting working on the close. It’s too much manual work, chasing employees to get things approved. With one new client, CB Insights, we got a soft close of 60 days down to a three day hard close.”

Sage Copilot will be available in the UK, in 2024 as part of Sage for Small Business and Sage for Accountants suites.  In April 2024 it will be launched for Sage Accounting, initially as an Early Access release for a limited number of customers. General sign-up will be available in May 2024 for Sage Accounting. Sage Copilot will become available in the  Sage for Accountants and Sage 50 product suites, in the UK, launching in similar fashion, throughout 2024. Availability for other product suites and markets will be announced at a later date.

Sage customers interested in early exclusive access are encouraged to register here.