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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.

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Written by smist08

July 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

SageCRM 7.1 Released

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SageCRM version 7.1 is now available!  The latest version of SageCRM is now ready for Sage ERP Accpac v6.0 customers.  Version 7.1 builds upon the system’s core functionality by delivering customers the ability to communicate more effectively, collaborate better internally, and compete in today’s marketplace. New features include:

  • Sage e-Marketing—a powerful and fully integrated email marketing solution.
  • Total Campaign Management—enables easy execution of multichannel marketing campaigns.
  • Communications Management— Microsoft Exchange server integration.
  • Interactive Dashboard—link multiple gadgets on a single screen.
  • New Report Charts—better business management with enhanced at-a-glance reports

ERP Integration

Most importantly to Accpac users, now in addition to the standalone SageCRM 7.1, the integrated version for Sage ERP Accpac 6.0A has also been released. Below is SageCRM 7.1 showing its new default welcome dashboard.

The Sage ERP MAS 90/200 integrated version is still being QA’ed but should be released very shortly.

New Interactive Dashboard

Below is a sample dashboard with some sales analytics. Notice that the layout of the dashboard is much more freeform now, so you can arrange the various widgets anyway you like.

Additionally you can link together dashboard widgets, so you can have one widget showing a list of records linked to another widget that shows all the details for the selected record in the first widget.

Accpac Quote to Order

Of course the Sage ERP Accpac 6.0A Quotes to Orders functionality is all in the integration. The screenshot below is actually the work in progress Accpac 6.1 Quote to Orders where the screen has been “narrowed” to fit on lower resolution screens and work better in monitors portrait modes.

New URL Re-Writer

To make setup and configuration easier, SageCRM 7.1 now uses a URL re-writer to route web requests to its Tomcat server. SData requests are handled by the SageCRM Tomcat server and are an integral part of the new dashboards. In previous versions this was handled by the Jakarta redirector, but now and then there were installation problem with this caused by different versions of IIS, various group policy settings and other security settings. The goal of the new URL re-writer is to provide better flexibility in deployment and configuration as well as to provide a more reliable installation experience. Sage ERP Accpac is also considering adopting this to route Accpac SData requests for the same reasons.

Hint: for this to install properly you need to have the ASP.Net role installed into IIS.

Social Media

Social Media is a major focus of SageCRM. It is being integrated into the product more and more. Plus many Social Media add-ons are being developed such as the SageCRM for Twitter extra and the Social Media Manager from Ebnu Consulting. Generally Social Media is becoming a more integral part of customer relationship management, whether seeing what people are saying about you or connecting and interacting with customers. Many people get their primary information through Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites.

All aspects of CRM are becoming more entangled with various Social Media services whether for advertising, customer feedback, support or any other type of interaction. In many cases these are providing better results that direct mail, e-mail, or phone calls. I blogged a bit about Social Media and ERP last year here, but since then things have come quite a long way and adoption has become much more mainstream.

Going Forwards

Of course Accpac 6.1 will integrate to this version as well as future versions. As Accpac continues its journey to the web that it started with version 6.0A, it will continue to integrate more and more into SageCRM. With both being Web products this becomes much easier in the past. Our technology stacks are aligning and our ability to seamlessly integrate becomes easier and easier. This breaks down the walls between ERP and CRM, allowing users in both worlds to get all the information they need for better decision making, whether its CRM users knowing of collections problems for customers from the back end accounting package, or A/R clerks being aware of communications that are going on between sales and customers they are collecting for.

As we move forwards we will be releasing many new “extras” similar to the “SageCRM for Twitter” extra mentioned above. Look to see some of these improving the ERP to CRM integration. The goal here is to get these into user’s hands sooner rather than having to wait for major releases of either the ERP or CRM product. If you are attending Sage Summit in a few weeks, look to see some previews of these extras that will be available shortly.

Written by smist08

June 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Posted in CRM, sage 300

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Sage ERP Accpac 6.0 Quote to Orders

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Sage ERP Accpac and SageCRM have a very tight integration. But the current generation of Accpac is a Windows desktop application and SageCRM is a Web Browser based application. SageCRM will display a fair amount of Accpac data in its web pages, but at some point you drill down into the Accpac application and an Accpac screen will be run. This causes a disconnect for the customer as they switch from the SageCRM Web application to the Accpac Desktop application. There are also performance problems with this context switch and some installation difficulties getting the “Web” based version of the current Accpac installed and configured properly since it uses ActiveX controls.

Now as Sage ERP Accpac transforms itself into a true zero-client Ajax HTML/Javascript Browser based application (with no ActiveX controls), we want that to leverage this new technology to improve our SageCRM integration. For Accpac 6.0 we will start that process by offering native Web based versions of our Quote and Orders screens that will run natively inside SageCRM. These screens will be styled like all the other CRM screens and customers shouldn’t be able to tell the difference whether they are working with one of these Accpac screens or any of the regular CRM screens.

The styling and screen aren’t fully developed yet, but below is an early prototype of the start of a Quote screen running as part of the CRM web page.

The key points are that the screen lives inside CRM, it does not pop out of the application and when it’s finished it will be styled to look like all the other screens.

This way a sales person running SageCRM, won’t know he’s running multiple Sage applications as he manages his contacts, leads and opportunities as well as entering quotes and orders. To him it is all one application.

There is a fair bit of extra work going on behind the scenes to ensure that the workflow is continuous, data is automatically transferred from one step to the next (like opportunity to quote to order), and data is automatically synchronized in both directions with Accpac. If some one edits an Order in Accpac, then the opportunity and other data is kept in sync in CRM. We are also smoothing out some of the supporting workflows, like how a lead is promoted to a customer.

There are a couple of other screens like an Order Summary screen that are being added to our SageCRM integration using the new Web Based UI framework. But many of the other screen like if you drill down into A/R or PJC will still result in the VB screen being run in 6.0. We will be looking to fix up these in Sage ERP Accpac 6.1.

Hopefully this is a step to making the End-to-End application experience much more seamless for customers. Combining this with the SData initiative, we should start seeing much closer integrations between Sage products as they incorporate all these new and exciting technologies.

Written by smist08

December 17, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Posted in CRM

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