• July 13, 2011
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Sage Expands Cloud Services for SMBs

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – At its Sage Summit annual user conference this week, Sage unveiled additional online business solutions and connected services for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) in North America.

The new products include Sage ERP MAS 90 Online, scheduled for release in the fall, a new analytics service for Sage SalesLogix Cloud, and new connected services for managing employee recruiting, employee retirement, and sales tax calculation. Sage is also due to release an enhanced version of Sage ACT, complete with social media integration.

On the heels of strong demand for the Sage ERP Accpac Online subscription service, Sage is launching Sage ERP MAS 90 Online in the fall. The new service will give businesses a set of integrated business applications, including light manufacturing and business analysis tools. Other Sage Online Business Solutions include Sage ERP Accpac Online, Sage Intergy on Demand, Sage Billing Boss, SageCRM.com, and Sage SalesLogix Cloud.

"Analytics is important to help people make better business decisions," says Dan Wilzoch, senior vice president and general manager of Sage mid-market CRM solutions, including SageCRM and Saleslogix.

The analytics offering, he adds, "is very interactive, easy to use, and can aggregate data from multiple sources and act on it."

The application already contains 90 templates built in, and also contains security settings to manage the data and who has access to it.

Sage also announced additional Connected Services for employers with the launch of Cyber Recruiter for Sage Abra and Sage Retirement Services, which respectively help businesses attract and retain new talent and assist employees in maximizing their retirement savings.

Also new is Sage Sales Tax for Sage ERP Accpac, a connected service that calculates sales tax down to the physical street address, ensuring sales tax compliance wherever a business conducts transactions in the U.S. This new connected service will be available later this month and adds to the suite of services for Sage ERP that includes the recent launch of Sage Exchange for Sage ERP Accpac, a connected service that provides integrated credit card processing.

The general principle behind all of Sage's releases is making them more flexible, personalized, task-based, mobile, device-independent, and social media-aware, according to Larry Ritter, general manager of the Sage ACT product line. With regard to the ACT product line, for example, Sage is focusing on business insights and productivity by seeking to "automate common tasks," he says.

"We want to ensure that people have flexible deployment options and solutions that are aligned to new business models, that are mobile and device-independent," Ritter states.

ACT 2012, which is due out for release later this summer, will have all sorts of capabilities tied to connected services, he adds.

Pascal Houillon, CEO of Sage North America, also maintained in his keynote address to open the conference July 11 that the company would more aggressively pursue additional Web, mid-market, and multitenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. This, he said, "would help create value not only for Sage but also for its customers and sales partners."

Sage, which last year recorded revenue of $2.2 billion, now supports roughly 3.6 million users in North America with a growing portfolio of online business solutions, connected services, and on-premises solutions, Houillion said. The company recorded strong organic growth in 2010, and Houillon wants to see that trend continue. One effort he is undertaking to that end is a rebranding of all of Sage's products during the next 18 months. "We will be dropping the use of our traditional brand names, like Accpac and Peachtree," he said, though it's too early to say what the new products will be called.

"Right now, Sage is a weak brand name in the U.S.," said Himanshu Palsule, executive vice president for strategy at Sage North America.

In outlining Sage's efforts to overcome this, Houillon said Sage's key strategies include growing the Sage brand name, leveraging Web technologies, and increasing its presence in the mid-market.

"Businesses are renewing their investments in areas that impact the fundamentals, like driving efficiency, improving cash flow, and attracting new customers. At the same time, while some businesses are moving up to entirely new systems to gain these benefits, the majority want to protect their investment in the systems on which they've built their businesses, such as accounting or practice management," Palsule said. "By providing businesses with the choice of business applications that can be deployed either on-premises or in the cloud, plus simple-to-manage connected services, Sage provides the best of both worlds."

"I am confident we have a great future ahead," Houillon assured users and resellers.

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