In what was the company’s first—but probably not last—partner conference in New Zealand, Sage Business Solutions announced big plans for the country, promising “aggressive growth” and a new wave of partner recruitment.
The Sage Insights 2012 conference took place in Wellington from November 15 to November 20. The conference brought together 81 channel partners who heard about new products and a new business strategy that the business management software vendor has lined up for ANZ in the next 12 months.
“Freedom of choice” is the company’s new business motto, with a renewed focus on mid-market solutions, particularly the 300 ERP and X3 products.
According to managing director Mike Lorge, “60 percent of partners [in ANZ] grew in 2012” and, of those, the average growth rate was 76 percent. “We want to help you grow. We only grow if you grow,” he told partners during the keynote.
The company says it is making “good progress” with its ERP X3 product. Lorge says the company is “on the competitor’s radar screen” and cites the example of Red Map, Sage’s official partner for this conference, who used to be a significant NetSuite customer.
According to Lorge, Sage has had to refocus to avoid diluting focus and strategy by spreading them out to too many different products. “We reached a crossroads at the end of 2011 and it became time to transform our strategy,” he recalls. The company categorised its products and divided them in core and non-core, for the different regions, with non-core products receiving less R&D investment. Core Sage products in ANZ are 300 ERP, 300 CRE, ERP X3, and CRM.
Paying attention at growing trends, the company has also picked mobility choices has one of its pillars for the strategy. It is now placing its bets on Sage apps, ISV apps and custom mobile apps for partners as well, which Lorge believes are “compelling if positioned correctly”.
He says that there will now be a “strong focus on X3 partner recruitment” as the company heavily markets the new ERP solution in the region. “Recruiting influencers will also be an area of focus. We believe a lot of business will come from that. There will be a heavy focus on that to drive more business to our ecosystem,” he adds. “Distribution, services, manufacturing and resources oil & gas are key for us in this region.”
Sage has also announced the launch of a new 12-month training programme for partners which will be available for the beginning of next year. “We are getting the back-end of the system ready,” says Russell Amys, business partner manager at Sage.
To help local partners, the company has also recently appointed business development manager Wendy McKenzie who, from Auckland, is now looking after New Zealand partners. McKenzie says the goal is to focus on partner recruitment especially in regions that have been getting less attention, such as the South Island, but partner recruitment will happen throughout the company, “and not just one or two”.
There will also be a particular focus on gathering new partners to resell the X3 product. OEM partners are key to the company as well. Sage’s business partner manager Russell Amys says the company has a “very strong engine, but it is the add-ons that solve the real pain”. “There are lots of opportunities for small software firms in New Zealand,” he says, adding that Sage has a programme targeting OEM partners specifically, with marketing and tool kits to help them grow. For Amys, one of the biggest advantages of local Sage partners is the ability to liaise with local people on the ground, not a telesales person based overseas.
The company will now spend the next 12 months targeting the mid-market with its two main products. According to Lorge, the company has a project management team based in Australia to help regional partners out with each new release. When needed, other people may be brought over for additional training. “We believe we have the most mature ecosystem of ERP products in the global mid-market,” says Lorge.