Sage North America is shipping a new release of its Sage X3 ERP application set with a new pre-configured "standard edition" targeting small businesses, a move the company is counting on to boost sales through channel partners.
Sage X3 6.2 also offers a number of enhancements the company said is designed to expand use of the applications to a wider range of managers and workers. The release comes at a critical time for Sage as it goes up against competitors such as SAP and NetSuite in selling ERP applications to SMBs.
"If you look at the midmarket, there are many, many vendors. It's a very fragmented market," said Gey Berruyer, CEO of Sage Group, Sage North America's parent company, in an interview. He called Sage X3 "one of our growth engines" and said sales of the product have grown by double digits in the last six months.
Sage X3 is generally sold to midmarket and upper midmarket companies, especially manufacturers with global operations, said marketing director Jean Huy in an interview. Sage's other ERP applications, Sage Accpac and the MAS line, are generally targeted toward smaller customers.
But Sage X3 6.2 has been developed into standard and premier editions in an effort to expand its market range. The premier edition is more customizable and geared toward companies with advanced business processes. The standard edition offers a pre-configured implementation framework and industry-standard processes, is optimized for running on a single server, and can fit within companies with 50 or fewer users, Huy said.
About 50 percent of Sage X3 sales globally are through the channel, but in the U.S. that number is only about 20 percent. Sage is counting on the new standard edition and its simplified implementation procedures to boost channel sales. "Our strategic direction in North America is really to grow the channel for X3," Huy said.
The new release "has been designed with the channel in mind," Berruyer said. "In terms of attracting new partners to Sage, it's a very significant product."
"Our hope is that this standard version will greatly reduce the implementation time of the applications," said Andrew Nunez, chief operating officer at SWK Technologies, a Livingston, N.J.-based Sage channel partner. That, he said, should make Sage X3 attractive to a wider range of mid-market customers.
While Nunez acknowledged that could also result in more solution providers working with the application set, he welcomed that scenario saying it would help expand the potential market for the product.
Beyond splitting Sage X3 into two editions, the 6.2 release offers more than 300 functional enhancements. The new Sage Visual Processes feature, for example, makes it easier for users to access the ERP applications through simple, visual business process flows, rather than switching between multiple application modules or using complex menu choices, Huy said.
Also new is the Sage Enterprise Webtop, based on the Netvibes publishing platform, that lets users – even those working externally or on mobile devices – connect to Sage X3 applications through personalized dashboards and portable widgets. And the software's dashboard that serves up analytics and performance data to users has been enhanced and is now 100-percent customizable based on the user's role.