Co-Pilot Cockpit Image by StockSnap from Pixabay Sage has announced Copilots for Sage for Small Business and Sage for Accountants. They will be generally available later in 2024, but organisations wishing early access can apply to Sage. These generative AI-powered assistants will help both small business owners and accountants to run their business better.

On Sage Small Business Cloud, the Copilot will initially be available in Sage Accounting. Sage expects to make it available in Sage Payroll later. The new Copilots are impressive. Enterprise Times spoke to Neil Watkins, Chief Product Officer, Sage, about the innovation.

Neal Watkins, EVP Small Business Segment, Sage
Neal Watkins, EVP Small Business Segment, Sage

Watkins said, “The goal of Sage Copilot is to help eliminate manual administration, streamline processes and outcomes together across multiple apps and tasks, and uncover hidden data points that we believe are really critical to real-time decision making, allowing SMBs to reclaim critical time that typically takes up their evenings and weekends as they try and run their business.”

What Sage has developed is an impressive first iteration of a Copilot that could make a real difference for both accountants and small business owners.

Sage CEO Steve Hare said, “Sage Copilot revolutionises small and mid-sized businesses and accountant productivity by bringing trusted AI into the heart of their operations — automating tasks and providing insights to fuel growth and efficiency. It’s not just an AI feature; it’s a commitment to building a future where businesses can focus on their goals, supported by AI they can trust from Sage.”

What will your Copilot do?

Sage has carefully thought through what small businesses and accountants would want an assistant to do. Rather than approach this as responsive tasks, they have taken a holistic approach. The Copilot is both responsive and proactive. It will identify errors, highlight the next best actions and generally guide users through different processes while running businesses.

Importantly, it does not act alone but involves the human in every decision. For example, it may remind the user that they have 10 quotes that are expiring, 5 outstanding invoices, 2 invoices to pay and a VAT return due for submission within a week. The user then decides which of these to tackle first. The Copilot will help guide the user to the different screens and even help them through the actions required.

The Copilot can also help prioritise tasks with answers to simple questions. With outstanding quotes for example, it might show that one customer normally rejects quotes, but another accepts quickly and usually pays on time.

Other areas that the Copilot can help users in are:

Task management:

 Identifies, organises and prioritises tasks based on urgency

Task Automation:

Helps users with repetitive tasks, enabling them to create mass updates or send mass communications

Communication and collaboration:

Rather than having to create emails and communications from scratch, the users can create chasing letters for invoice payments or quotes. These communications are personalised using data on the system, and the user can also change the tone of the communication using a simple drop-down.

Data Analysis, Reporting, and Insights:

The Copilot can create dashboards and reports on the fly that illustrate data, including cash flow analysis. These insights assist with decision making and the Copilot will also make suggestions to improve business performance. Users can also ask open questions in natural language to understand the causes behind an anomaly or data point.


The Copilots include integration with other apps. Ensuring that the workflows include other applications such as Microsoft Office apps. This reduces the screen switching that users have to do when carrying out these tasks

Personalised recommendations:

The Copilot learns from every user about their interactions and preferences. Over time, the Copilot will also offer advice on how to improve budgeting and financial planning. The intent being to improve business performance

For Accountants

The Copilots are also available as part of Sage Accounting and will bring a new level of intelligent automation. It will help automate collaboration and communication with clients, automate data collection or requests for data and identify where data is missing, providing accountants with prompts to automate appropriate responses to clients.

Caroline Armstrong, Director at Infinitas Accountants, said, “I have seen what Sage has been building, and it is exciting to know that it won’t just be SMBs who will be able to get ahead in their businesses with Sage Copilot. The use of Sage Copilot will elevate my role as a strategic partner even further, allowing me and our firm to support our clients’ financial success more accurately and confidently.”  

A key area the Copilot has been developed to focus on is the completion of self-assessment tax returns by clients. Andreas Georgiou, VP Product Marketing, Sage, believes that around a third of clients complete the self-assessment after the deadline, leading them to incur fines. The Copilot can draft and send communications to a filter list of clients that it applies to. The user can add attachments such as guidance and change the tone of the messages.

The Copilot will also give accountants a view of the progress clients have made through the process. Constantly updating the insights as clients update their data. This frees up accountants’ time from having to check what information is in place and what is not yet available.

Enterprise Times asked Armstrong what time savings she expects. She answered, “It’s widespread, as an owner of an SME business, to me that control over fee processing and collection of cash. It’s really, really important. For us, we’ve been caught out by company law because our clients actually have the right to their data, even if we haven’t been paid. For us, we have been caught short a few times, and this data would have really helped us have more control over fees quicker. For me, the administration of data and having the ability to not change screens while working with lots of different applications.

“The communication and chasing for data is a continuous task, and it tends to land with our managers and our senior people. We feel like we’re always chasing. We’re chasing for bank connections. We’re chasing for information. Anything that can be a bit more savvy and intuitive is going to help us enormously because it doesn’t have to be the accountant who chases the data. It’s the same old template that we’re using, that we’re creating every single time, and the ability to make it soft, medium and hard in terms of how we go chase will be really important.”

Some important questions


There are some questions about the new Copilots that were worth asking. Sage indicated that it could predict payment periods for customers using benchmark data.

When asked whether Sage customers were sharing their data, Georgiou answered, “A customer would have to opt in for their information to be shared across the network. These are the kinds of things that we’re working through at the moment, which is why we’ve been quite cautious about scaling up the user participation at the moment, to make sure that we’re getting those journeys right for customers. So that they feel really in control of their information and data.”

It means that the initial insights would be based on each customer’s historical data. Still, Sage is hoping that as customers opt into sharing data on an anonymised basis, the insights could improve significantly.

Language and other countries

The initial launch is in UK English. Copilots will be available in other countries, the US, Canada and non-English languages across Europe and Canada.

Watkins said, “We’re starting in the UK, and the key thing for us is to get really strong user feedback to make sure it lands properly first. Once we’ve got a good cohort of data from UK customers, we then use that to prioritise what comes next. The exact sequence we’re working out based on user feedback.”

Technology behind Copilot

Enterprise Times asked Watkins what the technology behind the new Copilot is. He replied, “We’re working with a combination of Open AI GPT with different versions,  with AWS on Anthropic, with Claude, and we’re working with a few open source technologies. Really, all of this is our technology, as Copilot that we’re developing, and then we’re basically interfacing with some of the large language models.

“We’ve also got our own AI analytical capabilities we’ve been building out over the last five years. That team has been building stuff out for us, both analytics and predictive models, so they all plug into the back of this as Copilot.”

On other Sage Applications

The initial availability is for Sage Accounting and Sage for Accountants. What about Payroll, also part of Sage Small Business Cloud? Watkins answered, “We’re building out the payroll pieces. We’re starting with accounting and financials first. For the payroll piece, we’re working on things like absence and timesheets, which we know are a pain for a payroll clerk and payroll bureaus within accountants. That’s really starting to integrate those capabilities from payroll back into the workflow.”

Sage, like other applications, has built this within the Sage Business Cloud. It will intend to make it available to other solutions in time as well. Enterprise Times asked Watkins about when it would be available within Sage Intacct.

He answered, “We’ve got the Transform event, which is our premier event next week, where we’ll be talking a lot more about that. But where we’re starting in the small business segment first, based on user feedback, user testing, Intacct comes after that.”

Sage will be demonstrating examples of Copilot within Sage Intacct, but no dates were given at this time. The Copilots will likely roll out to Sage 50 first, according to Watkins.


Will this incur an additional charge for customers? Watkins answered, “(It’s a) Commercially chargeable option. As part of the user testing, we’re working out the right price point, which we will announce closer to the time.”

With other vendors now including Gen AI capabilities within their platforms, Enterprise Times challenged this decision. Watkins continued, “Ultimately, my view is the market will decide. Once we get through user testing and we get feedback, that’s going to evolve the approach. We already see if you take Copilot as a category.

“That category is developing out through other large-scale tech vendors as well. We think to keep it really simple for SMBs and accountants, were trying to take a level of consistency. Ultimately, like any pricing model, it evolves over time. We’re starting out as a chargeable option.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

This is an important development by Sage. However, while it is not generally available yet, Sage has decided to make a major announcement about what it is doing rather than the historical slightly cautious approach. The importance of the announcement is reflected by the fact that the FT covered the news. The market also responded positively, now aware that Sage has a clear direction and strategy for AI. That not only makes sense but appears to deliver some significant improvements to its platform.

It will be interesting to see what is said at Transform next week and also what dates and pricing Sage reveals about the general availability in the future.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here