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Sage Summit 2013

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Introduction

Sage Summit is our annual North American partner and customer conference. This year it was held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, DC. Sage rolled out many exciting new products, upgrades and services. As a blogger I’m glad that they’ve all now been announced since these will provide articles for months to come and I don’t have to hold back waiting for Sage Summit anymore. Most of the topics mentioned here quickly will be the topic for future much more detailed blog postings.

Keynotes

Pascal Houillon kicked off the opening keynote comparing the Sage journey to mountain climbing. Talking about teamwork and overcoming very daunting obstacles. There was also a lot of mention on progress with building the Sage brand in North America.

sage-summit-557x417

Included in the keynote were demos of some of Sage’s new mobile applications, showing people buying things from iPads, being dispatched to perform service work from their iPhone and entering construction time card data on an Android tablet. The best demo was Steve Malmgren demoing voice input on a Windows phone where he could just ask general questions with vague input data and get back meaningful answers. He could ask questions like “What’s the address of American in Milwaukee?” and get back the full company name, its address and go to a map to get directions. It was very impressive and the voice recognition worked really well considering the noisy conditions up on stage.

Then the keynotes broke out into several super-sessions. I attended the super-session on technology which was standing room only. This session outlined all our new technology initiatives and all the things that we were delivering now. These included several mobile native applications along with the announcement of the new Sage 300 Online. A lot of time was invested in explaining how the provisioning and signup processes worked and how ISVs can participate in the new Sage Data Cloud that is the backbone for all the new services.

Sage Mobile Applications

We previewed rough prototypes of a number of mobile applications at last year’s Sage Summit conference. This year we are releasing the real things. The first three mobile applications are Sage Mobile Sales, Sage Billing and Payment and Sage Mobile Service.

Sage Mobile Sales is an iPad native application for sales people, Sage Mobile Service is an iPhone native application for receiving service calls. Sage Billing and Payment is a web application for chasing down people who owe you money. All of these take credit cards for payment via Sage Payment Solutions.

Below are some screen shots to give a flavor of what they look like.

mobile1

Sage Data Cloud

All these Sage Mobile Applications are connected to the Sage Data Cloud. All the data required for these applications to run, as well as all the transactions they generate go through the Sage Data Cloud. The Sage Data Cloud is hosted in Microsoft Azure and is connected to your on-premise ERP system. Your on-premise ERP uploads to data to the cloud like customer and inventory information and then downloads transactions like orders and invoices. It is the glue that connects your on-premise ERP with the cloud world without requiring you to run a web server or any other special infrastructure.

sagedatacloud

Currently we have connectors to the Sage Data Cloud for Sage 100 ERP and Sage 300 ERP. With connectors to Sage 50 ERP (US and Canadian) to be available shortly.

Sage 300 Online

Sage 300 Online is our new cloud version. This runs Sage 300 ERP 2014 in the Microsoft Azure cloud. It is integrated with SageID and uses new virtualization technology to being an improved application experience.

The following is the web page that you would launch the Sage 300 ERP 2014 Desktop from or transfer data to/from the cloud.

s300online

Sage 300 ERP 2014

Sage 300 ERP 2014 is our new version that will be shipping in a couple of months. This version includes many user interface improvements in the main Desktop along with throughout many application screens. There is much more information on what people are doing in the system, improved visual process flows and a number of other improvements that people have been asking for.

Sage City

We introduced Sage City last year and have continued it this year due to popular demand. Sage City includes a keynote address for the Sage Customers, it then breaks up into networking/problem solving sessions where like-minded customers get together to jointly solve their problems.

Sage Marketplace Live Expo

Every year there is an exhibition hall which has booths representing all our main ISV partners. All the Sage business applications act as both a platform and a center for a whole ecosystem of products and services. These products range from small but useful utilities all the way up to major applications and all have the goal of seamlessly integrating with various Sage products. Many lunches, breakfasts and dinners were served here so that partners and customers could eat as well as have plenty of time to investigate all the various products that could make their lives easier.

Social Media

Like any conference, one of the goals is to promote the company and to generate coverage in the press. Besides getting articles written for various publications (mostly online), part of it is generating interest in the social media like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Seeing all the tweets by industry analysts as well as judging sentiment from the attendees by watching the twitter feeds. You can see this by searching for the hashtag #SageSummit. Often the twitter feeds were displayed on large screens for all to see. Plus Twitter is a great way of people to connect and exchange information. There was also a Sage Summit conference mobile application to show the conference agenda as well as allow people to connect and use social media. Plus points were awarded for using the app where people were competing for a prize.

Summary

Sage Summit 2013 was another enjoyable conference. It was a great opportunity to meet many partners and customers. To see all the great products our ISV community are working on. To see some products and people from other parts of Sage that I don’t normally interact with. Next year Sage Summit is in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay on July 27-August 1, 2014.

Written by smist08

July 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Sage Vision 2012

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Cambodia

The Sage Vision 2012 conference was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia this year. This conference is for Sage business partners located in Asia. Siem Reap is an UNESCO heritage site for all the various Hindu and Buddhist temples from the Khmer Empire in the 9th to 15th centuries, including the ancient wonder of the world: Angkor Wat.

Modern Cambodia is a terrific place to visit with very friendly people and some really impressive things to see. It’s amazing that Cambodia has progressed as much as it has, since it was really only re-formed as a kingdom in 1993 after suffering so many years of the Vietnam war, Pol Pot and various civil wars. Visiting the war museum was really an eye opening experience to see the suffering that the people endured.

Conference

The majority of our partners in the region are from Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. But many other countries were represented. Right now we are actually seeing the most growth from Indonesia. This conference focused on the Sage 300 ERP, Sage CRM and Sage ERP X3 products. There were intensive training tracks on each of these. Then there were also general sessions on various aspects of all these products.

The conference started with a keynote address that was introduced by Gee Sing Low, Sage’s General Manager for the regions, followed by Keith Fenner for Sage X3, then Lorcan Malone for Sage CRM then myself for Sage 300 ERP, and then Charles Cheng showing off our revamped partner portal web site. This was then followed by the trade show for ISVs and then a cocktail reception by the pool.

There were then two days of sessions and then wrapped up on the last night with the partner awards gala dinner.

The keynote went well; it was nice that we could weave a story where we cover the ERP market from the lower to higher midmarket with Sage 300 and X3. How we have a number of shared components tying things together like Visual Process Flows, shared connected services as well as linking to a common front office solution with Sage CRM.

ISVs

About a dozen ISVs were at the conference. They had sessions on their products as well as booths in the trade show area. Some of the ISVs present including: Pacific Technology SolutionsTechnisoft, Norming, AutoSimply, Peresoft, XM Development, AcDev and iCube.

Sage provides the core ERP solution and then ISVs provide solutions for various vertical industries. To a large degree an ERP package is a development platform first, and a business application second. We provide the core applications and then ISVs provide specialized solutions for various vertical markets. Generally the success of an ERP package depends both on the strength of the core solution combined with the strength of the ISV community.

Community

I’ve attended many Sage 300/Accpac conferences over the years starting with the series of CA-Worlds in New Orleans. I’ve now attended many South African, Asian, North American and Australian Sage conferences. I’m always struck by the sense of community among all the Business Partners. Many were involved in the original Accpac Plus days. Many have been fierce business rivals for over twenty years, but it always seems like a family reunion at these conferences. Generally a lot of strong friendships and tight bonds have developed over possibly thirty years of working in the Sage 300/Accpac community.

Internet Connectedness

I gave a demonstration of our forthcoming Service Billing connected service running on my iPhone during the keynote presentation. Currently this is an HTML/JavaScript application written with the Argos SDK. At present this has no offline ability, so must be demonstrated while on-line communicating back to a server hosted in Microsoft’s Azure US West Coast data center. In Cambodia, I could rarely get data connectivity with the provider that Roger’s partners with over there, so I had to use the hotel Wi-Fi for the demo. Generally this is a no no, especially at technology conferences where all the attendees are connected to the Wi-Fi as well.

To me, it’s amazing that this demo actually went quite well. It really demonstrated that we do live in a very connected world. I was easily entering service tickets into my ERP while on the road ten thousand miles away in Cambodia. If things work here, I tend to think they really should work anywhere.

Summary

Sage Vision 2012 was another fun and informative conference. I have lots of feedback to bring back home. I visited many interesting sites around Siem Reap. I accumulated many air miles. I find all these conferences are always a worthwhile endeavor.

Sage African Insights 2012

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Sage African Insights 2012

Africa

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.

Conference

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.

Day 1

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?

Day 2

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.

Day 3

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.

Summary

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:

Written by smist08

February 13, 2012 at 7:02 am