Sage Partners Seek Technology Road Map, Channel Reassurance At Next Week's Summit

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Several partners cited Sage's elimination of the Bronze customer support plan as another issue. "So they're taking support opportunities away from the partners. That definitely didn't make any of the partners happy," said Mark Goodson, president of BCG Systems, an Akron, Ohio, solution provider that maintains a "minimal" Sage business after selling off a MAS 90- and MAS 200-related (now Sage 100) business several years ago and who now partners with Microsoft and NetSuite.

Another longtime partner worries about what he described as "the lack of innovation" with Sage's current products. "They don't seem to have an answer for that," he said. "I will tell you we are very concerned about hanging onto our Sage customers."

In what could be a sign of the dissatisfaction in Sage's partner ranks, several of Sage's biggest channel partners in recent months have struck deals to partner with other application vendors, including NetSuite, Intacct and SugarCRM. Most are careful to say those moves are meant to broaden their product lines and add cloud services to their offerings -- and don't represent a move away from Sage.

"Literally 100 percent of our prospects were asking for SaaS-based options for their consideration," said Stephen Blythe, CEO of Blytheco, one of Sage's biggest channel partners. Earlier this year Blytheco partnered with SugarCRM and with NetSuite. "We get invited to the dance more by having those."

Just this week, Plus Computer Solutions, a Sage partner in Burnaby, British Columbia, partnered with Intacct to work with that vendor's cloud financial management and accounting applications. Sage partner Arxis Technology partnered with SugarCRM in March.

"We realized we needed to diversify our product portfolio," said Buigas at Axis Global Partners, which became a NetSuite partner earlier this year. He said demand for cloud-based software was growing, particularly among startup companies and family-owned companies that are being turned over to younger people who grew up with the Internet. "We were missing out on those opportunities."

One partner, who still counts on Sage products for about 95 percent of his business, has recently added software from Intacct, SugarCRM and other vendors to his offerings. "Our hope is that becomes 50 percent of our business in the next three years," he said.

NEXT: Sage Summit 2012 Expectations

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