Twelve months ago Sage announced its vision for the future: to be recognised as the most valuable supporter of small and medium sized companies by creating greater freedom for them to succeed.
To achieve this Sage set out a clear strategy based on three areas: focusing our business, capturing the technology opportunity and subscription.
At a recent analyst day, we lifted the lid on our progress, specifically on some of our key technology initiatives in Europe for start-ups and small businesses with Sage One and for SMBs through Sage ERP Online Services.
The industry today
The software industry is constantly changing to reflect the opportunities that new technologies open up. In recent years, mobile, social, big data and cloud computing have all significantly impacted how businesses and consumers are using technology.
Traditionally, established businesses have been slow to adopt new technologies. This reluctance has been driven by the change that is implied to their business and perceived risks such as disruption, security and reliability.
This is changing and while it is not yet pervasive, attitudes are shifting. A number of factors have converged. Mobile, connected computing, the maturity of cloud technologies and social and legislative developments have all played their role while the backdrop of tough economic conditions has demanded that businesses become much more efficient. This represents a huge opportunity to offer our customers more and provide them with the right technology at the right time.
Among all this change, there are a number of demand drivers that remain constant. We know from talking to our customers that what they really care about are things like security, peace of mind, expert support, control and efficiency. Fundamentally businesses want software and solutions that help them meet their business needs and are reliable, appealing and straightforward to use.
Today’s marketplace is in flux between old and new. On the one hand we have existing businesses, like our 6 million customers, who are working with installed solutions. These businesses need their solutions to be modernised to bring them the benefits of newer technologies, while ensuring they retain the qualities that made them appealing to the customer in the first place.
On the other hand, we have younger businesses and early adopters, often start-ups and very small businesses, who want the very latest technology available. It is critical for Sage that we can offer choice to all these different types of customer.
The shift to multi-platform
It can be easy to lose oneself in the hype that surrounds the latest technological developments. If hype was to be taken at face value then by now the world would have shifted from desktop to browser and more recently from desktop to tablet and smartphone. In reality, this has not happened. Most people use desktop and browser and mobile devices. The world isn’t completely online and it isn’t completely mobile. But it has become multi-platform. The personal computer as the sole device is now outdated
For this reason an application ecosystem matters more than ever. This is why Sage is as focused on building such an ecosystem, as it is in delivering customer applications. In the new world the ecosystem is built around data assets exposed through open data APIs. These data assets are the currency of business in the 21st century.
More than a million small and medium-sized businesses in Europe and many more globally have entrusted Sage with managing their business data and processes. This responsibility will greatly influence our plans and is reflected in our cloud implementation specifically for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs – which we broadly define as companies with 10 to 200 employees) where Sage deals with very sizeable data assets.
So, the world isn’t moving from one platform to the next. Instead there will be a proliferation of many different platforms and compute models and, therefore, the challenge is to build an ecosystem that can deliver a relevant user experience to any relevant platform.
To do this Sage is focusing on a smaller number of technology platforms, offering businesses stronger products and services that that enable them to grow.
For the start-up and small business segment, Sage One provides the core online accounting capabilities ready to be adapted to specific country needs. A multi-tenanted SaaS offering built on Ruby-on-Rails, Sage One consists of a core platform which is used by all countries with localisation layers that are developed by in-country teams, thus benefiting from global scale and collaboration as well as Sage’s local market expertise.
Sage ERP Online Services
We have also recently announced the general availability of our Sage ERP Online Services for the SMB segment, starting with Sage 200 in the UK and Sage Murano in Spain.
Sage ERP Online Services are built on Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud technology, a fully-featured platform as a service. Windows Azure is a new generation of cloud technology that employs both private and public cloud services. In this way, our customers retain choice of deployment, data locality and the ability to tailor the solution to specific business needs.
With Sage One and Sage ERP Online Services we have taken an approach that differentiates us from many competitors: we are building not just cloud products but cloud ecosystems.
Standardising on global ecosystems is a departure from how Sage operated in the past. It will make Sage more productive and better leverage our global scale, specifically with regard to global technology partners and the third party development community. It means we can deliver geographic coverage, localisation, intelligent on-boarding processes, third-party opportunities and a customer experience that is second to none.
We are transforming to be more efficient in the execution of our new vision and strategy and, in Europe, we are also transforming our organisation with a more global outlook on market segments that allows us to pursue projects on a global scale.
In summary, at Sage we are:
- Delivering cloud innovation for businesses, at pace, based on customer needs
- A trusted partner for SMBs globally, providing them with the right technology at the right time
- Building robust ecosystems working with great partners
- Delivering on our technology strategy, which will drive growth and sustain Sage’s competitive advantage
Klaus-Michael Vogelberg, Group Chief Technology Officer
Klaus-Michael Vogelberg was R&D Director and partner of the German KHK Software group, acquired by Sage in 1997. In 2000 he joined the Group team to assist Sage operating companies and the Board on software architecture and technology strategy. Between 2004 and 2007 Klaus-Michael acted as R&D Director for Sage UK and Ireland, before taking up his current post of Group Chief Technology Officer.