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Many of the changes stem from an almost complete management change at the company, beginning with Swenson, who took over as CEO in March 2008. Last year Miller, a Great Plains Software and Microsoft channel management veteran, was brought on board to oversee the company’s channel operations.
Miller, in turn, has filled out Sage’s channel management ranks with industry veterans with years of channel experience at Sage, SAP, Microsoft and Great Plains. They include Ron Johnson, a 12-year Sage manager, as senior director of partner programs and readiness. “I’ve got high expectations for our team, and for me as well,” Miller said in an interview this week. “I didn’t come here to be average.”
Channel partners have taken notice. “In the past year they’ve hired some really dynamic senior executives,” Dresser said.
And while the company has business partner advisory councils for specific products, Sage is now organizing a business partner advisory council to deal specifically with channel-related issues. “We’re trying to encourage more interaction between our partner groups,” Miller said. “Build some camaraderie around the community. We have very small partners, we have very large partners, and we have everything in between. We value all of them.”
The company still has a ways to go and is still making some missteps, however. In her keynote Jodi Uecker-Rust, president of Sage Business Solutions, acknowledged that there are still “issues” with the partner portal. And one channel partner, who asked to remain anonymous, said the company angered partners recently when it accidentally posted some solution providers’ customer lists online -- where everyone could see them -- for a brief time.
“Do we still have work to do? You bet,” Swenson acknowledged in her keynote.
So far, though, the changes being made by the company are resonating with channel partners and they think the company is on the right track.
“There’s a refreshing sense of reality with Sage today,” said Anthony Castle, CEO of Castle CRM, a New York-based Sage SalesLogix reseller. “It’s really starting to click. The technology is right on, the programs are right on. I actually see a cohesive vision.”
Castle predicts that within a year Sage will be seen as a more equal competitor with Microsoft, NetSuite, SugarCRM and others that have been trying to recruit Sage channel partners.