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Stephen Kelly, CEO at Sage (Image Credit S Brooks 2016)
Stephen Kelly, CEO at Sage

Sage has announced the advent of Sage Business Cloud. It was launched under the tagline: “The One and Only Cloud Platform Designed for Every Stage of Customer Business Growth”. The question is, whether this is marketing hype over substance. Sage has a history of acquiring applications and rebranding them with similar names without actually unifying them into a single product. Is this new cloud different? The answer is a little bit of both in my opinion.

The aim of this campaign is to demonstrate that the Sage products can support the lifecycle of any business. For small businesses Sage One provides an entry level product. For larger businesses Business Cloud offers Sage Live ,and for more complex businesses and enterprises the answer is Sage X3. If this structure seems familiar it is. When Sage acquired Sage Intacct earlier this year this was the structure of how they offered their business solutions.

There is more to Sage Business cloud than just the accounting solutions. Sage People, Payroll and payments are all available. Stephen Kelly, CEO, Sage commented: “Sage Business Cloud is the next transformative wave of business software. As the fourth industrial revolution continues to take hold, we want to make our customers lives simple. Businesses of all shapes and sizes need products that aid productivity, enable them to respond at lightning speed and deliver insights as well as opportunity. We have our foot on the gas and are ready to meet the needs of the most important people to our business – our customers. And we are just getting started.

Cart before the horse?

While Sage business Cloud is now available in the US, Canada and UK, it will become available in other countries around the globe. The question is why is this different. What Sage appears to be doing is placing all its multinational software under a single umbrella. Sage Intacct does not yet appear because it has not been internationalised yet. Sage has plans to do this and that software will slot in between Sage Live and Sage X3 on the platform. There is also room for Compass, another recent Sage acquisition.

There are a lot of unanswered questions both in the press release and the supporting documentation.

  1. What are the migration tools or upgrade path between the different software solutions?
  2. When will Sage Intacct appear on the Sage Business Cloud?
  3. Sage sold its US Sage Payments solution to GTCR LLC so why is it part of the new cloud and will it be global?

To support the new cloud platform there is also the Sage Marketplace. It now has 103 apps listed within it. Considering it was launched 18 months ago with 23 apps, it has grown substantially.

Sage is also keen to push its latest innovations. The cloud platform will also benefit from the support of AI and machine learning, though there is little information on what this means. Kriti Sharma, VP of Artificial Intelligence at Sage commented: “Artificial Intelligence is already helping us in our everyday lives by reducing the burden of administrative tasks and enhancing the performance of the workforce. Today, we are embedding AI and Machine Learning into Sage Business Cloud, so users can increase productivity at any point in the business journey.”

What does this mean

What Sage appear to be doing is the right approach. They are showing that the future of Sage is dependent on these multinational products. They will still, no doubt, support Sage 50, Sage 50c and Sage 100 into the future but these have multiple variations across the globe. By concentrating their efforts on a small number of multi-national products they are finally starting to focus.

Unfortunately, the platform appears to be little more than a unified announcement than a thing of substance. Following the links to the Sage Business Cloud merely brings up a website with disparate links to the various products. This needs to evolve over the coming months to something a lot more coherent. Interestingly the one unifying element of this is the marketplace. This is where the apps for Sage One, Sage Live and Sage X3 are all listed. Sage categorises the apps by business type. It may have been a better idea to have results filtered by Sage product supported.

This is a positive step by Sage. As a marketing message it brings a focus that Sage has often not had in the past. What they need to deliver on is substance, to prove that the solutions are more coherently aligned and that companies can actually migrate between the solutions. If they do this successfully they could have a compelling message. One of their competitive advantages is that they do have software that fits well with different sizes of businesses. If the fleet of Sage solutions is finally headed in the same direction this is good news. However, if Sage is pushing Business Cloud as the new normal, then Sage Intacct needs to be added into it as quickly as possible.


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