Sage African Insights 2012
Sage African Insights 2012
I’m writing this blog posting from South Africa where I’m attending and presenting at Sage’s African Insights conference. This conference is primarily for the business partners that work with the Sage Accpac, X3 and CRM products. In Africa, Sage sells a number of small business solutions like Pastel and Act!; however, they have their own conference. Africa is a fascinating continent where you get to have many adventures you couldn’t experience anywhere else. If you like photography or wildlife then Africa is the ideal place to visit. The people are incredibly friendly and fun.
The main theme of the conference is the release of Sage X3 Standard Edition. This edition includes a methodology to standardize the implementation of X3 sites. In Africa there aren’t really any Tier 1 companies. As a result Sage has products that cover the whole spectrum of companies in Africa with Pastel covering the small business market, Accpac covering medium sized businesses and then X3 covering the larger enterprises. I’m not using the new product name for Sage ERP Accpac in this article, since these product naming changes won’t be introduced into Africa for another year.
Africa is Sage’s highest growth region showing double digit growth in all areas. The economy in many regions of Africa is booming. Peace has broken out in many southern countries including Mozambique and Angola allowing phenomenal economic growth. Africa is extremely natural resource rich and as mineral prices rise, so do exports. Hopefully this new wealth will spread widely enough to keep this positive change happening.
All the African partners are very hard working and resourceful. Generally the size of customer sites are larger in Africa than other regions, however sometimes the infrastructure to support these is a bit lacking. It’s amazing what can be accomplished though, working around all the various problems with unreliable power and internet connectivity.
This African conference is nice because there is such a sense of community. All the people present are working with the same Sage products and the conference with 300 or so attendees is still small enough that most people know each other. Even though there are many day to day rivalries between the various partners, they still come together as friends at these conferences to share their battle stories and to have a drink together. It’s also fascinating to meet partners from all over Africa, from such interesting and exotic countries.
The conference started with a number of keynotes including Jeremy Waterman presenting the overall state of the business, myself presenting changes to the Sage ERP Accpac roadmap (a topic of future blog posts), Lorcan Malone and Tom Nolan on Sage CRM, Benoit Le Tohic and Jeremy Cocqueel for Sage X3, Keith Fenner with the sales keynote and then Mandy Wiener, the author of “Killing Kebble, An Underworld Exposed” as the guest speaker.
This then was followed by a reception in the exhibition hall where Sage and many third party solutions had booths showcasing their solutions. It’s always nice to see such a variety of third party solutions. Some have been integrating to Sage products for over twenty years.
Sage ERP Accpac is often criticized for not having a built in workflow engine. However this gap is then filled in by a number of third party solutions. On display were solutions written in the Accpac SDK, the Sage CRM SDK and written as external orchestration programs. I wonder if Accpac did have a built in workflow engine, then would all these terrific solutions exist? Would the customer have the same breadth of solutions available to them?
Keith Fenner started day 2 with a sales keynote on how Sage is successful at winning sales over the competition and highlighted key selling points against the competition’s many weaknesses.
Then there were many breakout sessions for everyone to attend. I gave presentations of “Troubleshooting the Accpac 6.0A Portal” and “SData: An Overview”. Then I backed up Andrea McGowan in her presentation on “Customizing the Accpac 6 Portal”.
At the end of the day was the “fancy dress” party which was themed around spies and detectives.
Keith Fenner started day 3 with another sales keynote. Then there were another set of breakout sessions.
At the end of the day was the black tie partner awards dinner. It’s good to see so many partners achieving silver, gold, platinum and diamond status. Not only Sage gave out awards, but many of the third party developers gave out awards for the partner that either sold the most or had the best installations of their product.
Africa is always an amazing place to visit. This is my fourth trip to this conference. I always have a great time and feel extremely welcome. I always learn a lot at the conference and enjoy all the various discussions. I always feel I have gained so much good information to take back to Vancouver to share with my colleagues there.
The view of Cathkin Peak from my hotel room at the Champagne Sports Resort: