The Sage World user conference kicked off the other day in sunny Telford here in the U.K. with the usual PR fanfare—and the not-so-usual spectacle of a couple of NetSuite poster trucks circling the conference centre.
Our poster trucks (and some tweets) were light-hearted needling that borrowed a bit from U.K. politics. (“We make your software upgrades painful and expensive. Vote for Sage,” one truck read). But the message was serious—customers need to be more discriminating than ever in the strategic direction they choose for their business software.
In my view, Sage is the old man of financial software. Sage has grown by acquisition, purchasing disparate systems from country to country and shoehorning them into a broad product roadmap. Now growth by acquisition can be a sound strategy—if it's well executed.
But it doesn't seem as if Sage has put any real thought into a global offering that can meet the needs of a sophisticated mid-market customer that's grown by leaps and bounds over multiple geographies in the past 5 or 10 years. Moreover, Sage doesn't have a cloud strategy, at least that I can tell.
That's going to hurt the old man as new age vendors like NetSuite deliver cloud-based platforms that hit the bull's-eye of customer needs—anywhere, anytime web access. Automatic software upgrades. No costly and painful software installations or patching. And terrific multinational support.
It remains to be seen how long Sage can keep their tenuous “over my cold dead body” grip on their customers. But from the front line of sales, the enquiries NetSuite is receiving from Sage EMEA customers are through the roof, mainly because the Sage Line 50 platform is not the same flavour from one country to the next. It's an understatement to say that affects a customer's ability for global operations, not to mention performance and efficiency.
NetSuite customers are demanding greater and greater visibility into operations across multiple geographies—and they're getting it with the industry's most robust multinational, multi-subsidiary, multilingual and multi-currency functionality. With NetSuite, it's no problem to add a subsidiary in Hong Kong, or to roll out CRM and ERP and ecommerce that can talk to each other across three countries, or across three continents.
For a customer sticking with Sage, the only option is more boxes, higher support costs and a point solution for geo-dispersed operations that does not and cannot roll up to a single view of the business.
How long does Sage have before customer adoption of cloud solutions outpaces old on-premise solutions? The clock is ticking. One thing's for sure—Sage customers that migrate to the cloud are gone for good. Because once you go cloud, you never go back.
Jason Currill - EMEA Sales Director