• May 13, 2008
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Swenson Clears the Cobwebs for Sage

OXON HILLS, MD. -- Sage Software on Monday welcomed more than 3,000 attendees to its annual Insights partner conference, preceding the opening keynote speech with a dance routine using janitorial brooms. When the troupe had completed its display, Sage North America's brand-new CEO, Sue Swenson, joined them briefly with broomsticks of her own. Perhaps this was intended as an indication of her role as the new broom, cleaning house and ushering in new policies and approaches to business applications.

Whether or not a housecleaning is in order, Swenson certainly is new, as she indicated early and often during her welcoming address. Appointed just six weeks prior to Insights, Swenson's prior experience is mostly in telecommunications, and claimed she didn't know of Sage before being called in for an interview. Fittingly, Swenson said she has spent the bulk of her time touring Sage facilities throughout North America, getting input from employees of all levels on what more the company can do to better serve its customers and partners. "Throughout my career, my entire experience has been with customers," Swenson said. "The first thing I ask is 'how will this affect customers?'"

The majority of Swenson's keynote contained observations of her first six weeks in office, suitable to a CEO's first public occasion. (Extending the broom metaphor, one could say there were no sweeping changes in evidence.) Despite this, change is in the air. Details are to be announced Tuesday, but they include a focus on driving business development down to Sage's individual business units, putting it closer to the customers; the expected enhancements to Sage's various product lines; and simplifications and expansions of the Sage Partner Advantage Program.

Swenson provided a brief preview of the new program. It will be structured around four pillars:

  • Grow Business;
  • Hire Talent;
  • Build Knowledge; and
  • Gain Rewards.
Sage Partner Advantage has been popular in years past, and effective as well. Swenson noted an 18 percent increase in new business for partners who participated in the growth-oriented portions of the program, three times that of non-participants.

Swenson indicated Sage's goals were to get the right product to the right customer, to provide extraordinary customer experience, and to get the Sage name further out into the marketplace. "Three years ago, Sage embarked on a strategy ... to be the most admired business software and services provider in the world," Swenson said. "That's a pretty big aspiration, but certainly we're on our way."

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