The Sage Enterprise Management Partner Summit, held in Sevilla, offered an opportunity to talk with partners, especially ones interested in expanding their relationship with Sage. Skynamo, from Stellenbosch in South Africa is an example.
Skynamo sells a mobile-first sales app and field sales management platform for businesses which focuses on repeat selling and servicing to an existing customer base. It built its first iteration for a drinks distribution company, replenishing bars. This has extended as it has expanded. Today, sales managers and field sales reps. can track and analyse sales rep activities. This includes reviews of sales history, stock, pricing and promotion information. The impact is that sales reps can help their customers make smarter decisions and thereby sell more. While it started in South Africa, and remains headquartered there, Skynamo has recently expanded into the UK.
Sage is not only Skynamo’s only technology partner. It works with, or has worked with, a half-dozen other accounting or ERP vendors who operate in the SME market. But, according to Sam Clarke, Skynamo’s Managing Director, Sage has a number of significant attractions.
The attractions of Sage
In talking to Mr Clarke he listed the following:
- the geographical reach: Sage operates in so many countries and regions it opens the door to opportunities (like the UK); many of Skynamo’s other partnerships are local or at best regional rather than global
- a willingness to work to expand both businesses: Clarke has found Sage in the UK much more responsive and able to go further in supporting Skynamo’s new business initiative
- the focus on SMEs: for Clarke a distinct appeal of Sage is its focus on the types of enterprises that the IBMs, SAPs and Oracles would regard as small (or barely medium); as he and Sage know, the mindsets, and requirements, of the ‘enterprise-enterprise’ ERP vendors is quite different from those for SMEs
- the ability to integrate and enhance: Skynamo’s product is an extension of what Sage offers and Sage, to Clarke, appreciates that add-ons and extensions complement the end customer’s capabilities
- solving the customer infrastructure problem.
Solving the customer infrastructure problem
The appeal of ‘cloud computing’, as a form of utility computing is (almost) universally sung. Clarke added a dimension and gave an example.
One of Skynamo’s customers had its application running on the same system as much of its accounting. A feature of this customer was that orders came in all the time, not only during the working day but overnight and during weekends. Unfortunately the person who operated the customer’s specific computer decided to switch it off over a weekend. No orders arrived.
The first inclination of the customer, on discovering ‘no orders’ was to blame Skynamo for its system not functioning. Skynamo had to investigate. It soon found the reason, not that any amount of explanation satisfied the customer.
This example illustrates, according to Clarke, a specific problem relating to SMEs. They invest too little in infrastructure (people and systems) yet will often blame their computing and/or solution vendors for all and any systems problems encountered – as in the above instance. This is a distraction (to Skynamo’s business).
A major attraction of Sage’s cloud-based solutions is that inadequate investment in IT infrastructure disappears. Sage looks after this, including anything from application updates to resilience. For Clarke this releases his business to focus on helping the customer’s replenishment sales and not worrying about why his customer’s systems ‘don’t work’.
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
Sage views ‘enterprise’ customers as being (say) businesses with less than 5,000 employees – though Sage also argues this is an arbitrary figure. What is clear is that a Sage enterprise customer is utterly different to an SAP or Oracle enterprise customer.
The Sage approach to cloud tends to focus on Sage function. Complementing this is the support of partners, like Skynamo. Yet a cloud-based solution adds a capability that is as valid for SMEs as for huge-scale enterprise cloud implementations – in Skynamo’s case relieving it from its customers’ infrastructure burdens.
The irony is that the SMEs who will benefit most will (probably) realise it least. But the savings and ability to focus for Skynamo are real.