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As Sage’s annual Insights partner conference comes to a close, the consensus among solution providers that work with the business applications vendor is that the company is moving in the right direction. And that Sage executives, particularly the new channel management regime, are hearing partners’ concerns.
“I feel a lot better about who’s in charge,” said Wendy Gorrie, general manager with Plus Computer Solutions, a Vancouver, B.C.-based solution provider that resells Sage Accpac ERP, SageCRM and other Sage products. “They’re good at listening to what the partners need.”
By all accounts, the past couple of years haven’t been easy for the company or for many solution providers in its Sage Partner Advantage program. Sage North America, which accounts for about 40 percent of parent company U.K.-based The Sage Group Plc’s sales, reported a 10 percent revenue decline in fiscal 2009. And hundreds of employees at both Sage North America and Sage Group lost their jobs in layoffs in December 2008 and May 2009.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty happy to see the economy improving,” said Sage North America CEO Sue Swenson in a keynote speech at Insights in Denver Monday. “Choppy, bumpy, but choppy, bumpy on the way up.”
Along with the recession, Sage has struggled with a number of internal issues. The company’s broad -- some might say disparate -- product line, built through a series of acquisitions, takes a lot of resources to maintain, and even the company’s CTO has admitted that some products are falling behind the technology curve.
“We needed a cohesive and compelling product strategy,” said Himanshu Palsule, executive vice president of product strategy and marketing at Sage Business Solutions, in a keynote speech Tuesday. “We needed to go from being known as a company with a product portfolio to a company that had a Sage business solution strategy.”
Many of the company’s channel partners are likewise focused on specific products, such as the Accpac ERP application set or SalesLogix CRM software, rather than Sage as a brand. Several Sage executives included in their keynote speeches pleas for resellers to expand their businesses to cross-sell a wider range of Sage products.