Sage's New Global Strategy
Sage Software announced its new global CRM organization on Wednesday, the company's first initiative to globalize its product line while augmenting its partners' ability to localize customer integrations. Dave Batt, vice president and general manager, who introduced Sage CRM Solutions and the tag line "Freedom Of Choice" at a teleconference alongside Sage Group CEO Paul Walker, will helm Sage Global CRM.
The restructuring of Sage's CRM delivery strategy is part of an ongoing effort to rebrand and unify Sage's SMB products. The effort was launched in May 2005, when the company changed its name in North America from Best Software. The company's three main products will be known as ACT! by Sage, Sage CRM (and SageCRM.com), and Sage CRM SalesLogix. Sage will support its CRM line through the new Sage localization center, an organization that will aid integrators in customizing the products to suit the language, cultural, and regulatory requirements of customers. "Sage is unique in its strict focus on business applications for SMBs. That makes Sage people true SMB experts," Batt said. "It's my goal to drive our existing leadership even further with a comprehensive approach that builds the individual strengths of Sage CRM products into a stronger whole for our customers around the world." Part of the new strategy will be an advertising and marketing campaign highlighting Sage's SMB focus and new initiatives.
Industry analysts see several potential benefits for Sage. "This could be significant if they play their cards right," says Laurie McCabe, vice president of SMB insights and business solutions for AMI-Partners. "Tightening the brand integration will help Sage's integrator partners upsell customers to the more sophisticated--and more expensive--solutions like SalesLogix." McCabe adds that the localization center in particular is smart business on Sage's part. "The localization center is a really good idea for them. On the accounting side, localization has worked well, since customers need very specific changes to meet legal requirements in taxation and regulation," McCabe says. "With CRM, localization is less for regulatory issues, more for languages, features, and functionality, but this will help them integrate the CRM line with the back office. Plus, it will drive more business to the partners who actually do the customization."
Batt joined Sage in September 2005, after a 16-year career that includes heading the middle markets division of Siebel Systems and serving as Oracle's vice president of CRM for the services industry. His most recent position was general manager of Microsoft CRM. "These are all companies, especially Oracle, where they want to use a lot of their own technology, infrastructure, and middleware, but SMBs don't want to be bothered with that," McCabe says. "They're more platform agnostic--they want something out of the box that just works. Batt's time at the other companies will have taught him that lesson."
According to experts, the marketing drive is the real crux of Wednesday's news. "This announcement was more for partners, to reassure them in the midst of all the mergers and acquisitions in the industry that Sage will continue to work closely with them," says Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research. "It's also a way of saying to the world, 'Hey, we're a billion-dollar company with some very strong brands,' when other announcements might overshadow them." McCabe agrees that marketing will fortify Sage. "The ad campaign will definitely help them. A lot of other players in the SMB space are Johnny-come-latelies; Sage has concentrated on the space for more than two decades, and they know their way around," she says. "SalesLogix is a bit more of a stretch for SMBs, but Sage CRM should be very popular, especially in light of on-demand's popularity. We'll see what happens."
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