Sage Summit 2013 Brings the Cloud to Small Businesses and Accountants

Sage North America formally kicked off its annual Sage Summit conference this morning. The convention, which brings thousands of Sage customers and business partners together every year, is being held at the Gaylord National Resort just outside Washington, D.C. from July 21-26.

Participants will attend a wide range of educational sessions on the company’s products, which include business management applications like Sage One, Sage 50 U.S. Edition (formerly Sage Peachtree), Sage 50 Canada Edition (formerly Simply Accounting by Sage), Sage 100 ERP (formerly MAS 90 ERP), Sage 300 ERP, Sage 500 ERP, and Sage X3 ERP.

The opening keynote was led by Sage North America CEO Pascal Houillon, and included presentation by many key executives, including Sage Group global CEO Guy Berruyer.   Houillon and CTO Himanshu Palsule walked through a number of new products, including cloud-connected services which work with existing ERP products, mobile applications for a wide range of customer needs and platforms, and solutions for accountants and consultants.

Houillon mentioned numerous enhancements to the Company’s cloud accounting program, Sage One made in the last year, including bank reconciliation and data integration. The company also announced that it will have a version of Sage 300 ERP (ACCPAC) running on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform later this year, and it has begun creating a version of Sage 100 ERP (MAS 90/200) for this platform as well.

The two most impressive technology demonstrations were a voice recognition mobile app and data on how clients are using the applications. The voice recognition app retrieve customer data from an ERP system using natural language queries, including credit limit, unpaid receivables, and address information.

The mobile tool also integrated with web-based mapping functions to provide directions from the users location and was able to initiate a call to the customer’s phone number. The client information application, called Sage Advisor, uses data mining techniques to extract and share information on the features they use in their solutions to their business partner.

This data is presented in a graphical format from the Sage Partner Portal, and is available for use today. This application is arguably one of the most impressive “big data” projects in the accounting technology space to date.

During the convention, the company announced a number of new products and enhancements, including Sage Enterprise Intelligence for Sage ERP X3, Sage Intelligence Bundle for Sage 100 ERP, Sage 300 ERP, and Sage 500 ERP, and Sage Inventory Advisor.

The business intelligence products, which are targeted as solutions for the company’s mid-market and enterprise customers, are designed to extend the company’s core accounting/ERP offerings with extended reporting and data analysis. Sage Inventory Advisor is a cloud-based tool which helps businesses to project and forecast sales and inventory needs, and is accessible from both mobile and traditional web browsers.

Sage North America CEO Pascal Houillon has brought a greater focus to the company during his tenure. Under his leadership, the company launched Sage ERP X3 for enterprise customers and Sage One to provide an online accounting and project management solution for entrepreneurs. At last year’s conference, Houillon announced the company’s plans to sunset support for a number of products, including DAC Easy Accounting, Sage 500 ERP, and others, at a date no earlier than August 2017.

The company has also enhanced its Sage Intelligence reporting and business intelligence application, and created a number of new product offerings, including Sage Mobile Sales and Sage Payment Services. The company has created commercial cloud hosting programs for a number of its products, including Sage 50 US, Sage 50 Canada, Sage 100 ERP, and Sage 300 ERP.

The company’s restructuring resulted in a number of significant changes, including realignment of the company’s development efforts under CTO Himanshu Palsule, and the creation of groups focused on enterprise customers, mid-market customers, small business customers, and entrepreneurs. Sage North America has also divested a number of products since last year’s show, including ACT! by Sage, Sage SalesLogix, and Sage Fund Accounting.