Sage Goes To Nashville: Scenes From The Insight Channel Partner Conference2:40 PM EST Fri. May. 15, 2009
Hundreds of Sage channel partners journeyed to the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn., last week to attend Sage's annual Insights partner conference. While attendance was down due to the recession and travel budget restrictions, the company said roughly the same number of solution provider companies attended as last year, but each partner sent fewer people.
Sue Swenson, president and CEO of Sage North America, delivered a keynote May 11 where she told channel partners, "You're really our face to the customer." Swenson emphasized the need for solution providers to increase sales to current customers by selling a broad range of Sage software and to recruit new customers for Sage products.
The week before Insights, Sage North America launched a reorganization that combined its Business Management and Industry & Specialized Solutions divisions into a single Business Solutions division. Sage North America also eliminated some 500 positions through layoffs and attrition.
Swenson said the changes, which included organizing sales teams by region instead of individual products, were part of a broader effort she called "getting back to basics," which includes better understanding of customers and delivering solutions they need.
Swenson was preceded to the stage by Nashville's John Overton High School marching drum band that paraded down the length of the ballroom and onto the stage. Swenson made a less dramatic entrance from behind stage.
As part of the reorganization, Jodi Uecker-Rust (left) was appointed president of the Sage Business Solutions division and Doug Meyer was named chief customer officer. They appeared on stage after Swenson's keynote to hand out awards to the company's most successful channel partners.
For the second year in a row, Dallas-based solution provider MIS Group was named Sage North America's overall top business partner for achieving the highest total sales for Sage products. Pictured (left to right): Jodi Uecker-Rust, president of the Sage Business Solutions Division; MIS Group CEO Robert Muir; MIS Group President Greg Boyd; and Doug Meyer, Sage North America chief customer officer.
Other channel partners recognized for their sales performance included Accordant Company, Alliance Solutions Group, Blytheco and Infinity Info Systems.
The Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, the site for this year's Insights conference, has several huge atriums complete with Southern-architecture buildings, restaurants, waterfalls, fountains and winding paths. Twice each evening, the main fountain has a show synchronized with classical music, a la Las Vegas. The hotel wisely provides guests with a map to find their way to and from their rooms.
Small riverboats (lower left) ply the river in the resort's Delta atrium. Fare is $9.
Traffic was steady all week on the exhibition show floor where Insight partners and ISVs -- as well as Sage itself -- showed off their products. It also gave attendees the chance to schmooze with each other and with Sage executives. Sue Swenson, president and CEO of Sage North America, can be seen doing some serious listening in a group of attendees at the center of the picture.
The exhibition show floor was the setting for several receptions, complete with buffets and open bar, where Insight attendees got a chance to check out the latest Sage and business partner technology from some 175 exhibitors.
Sage solution provider Blytheco adopted a Star Trek theme for its booth at the exhibition. The company was showing off its BlythecoDev bMobile suite for developing mobile applications that work with the Sage MAS 90 and Sage MAS 200 ERP applications.
Following Swenson's keynote Monday, Blytheco was lauded as one of Sage North America's most successful business management software partners.
The Blytheco booth had its share of Star Trek paraphernalia, including a phaser, Star Trek-themed games and, yes, a pair of Tribbles.
Even Captain James T. Kirk (the original, not that young guy from the new Star Trek prequel) made an appearance at Insights.
Motasim Najeeb, who was named CTO for Sage North America in January, said in a keynote speech Tuesday that the company must maintain a balance between updating its products to attract new customers and keeping current customers happy by maintaining product stability.
"Some of our products have fallen behind the technology curve and need increased R&D investment," he acknowledged. For existing customers, "Our installed base of customers expect a superior ownership experience from our products," he said. "But most of all they expect stability from one release to another."
Attendees were treated to performances by these acrobats as part of the entertainment on the Insights exhibition show floor.
Making a point about software flexibility and stability, perhaps ?