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One year after Sage’s rebranding, partners return to Summit conference

Partners will look for an update on the controversial rebranding as several Sage competitors have been trying to tempt them away

One year ago at its Summit partner and customer conference in National Harbor, Md., business software vendor Sage North America took attendees by surprise by announcing plans to re-brand long-standing Sage products such as AccPac, Peachtree, Act and SalesLogix . One year later, partners are gathering in Nashville, Tenn. the week of August 13th for another Summit conference and an update on the strategy.

Last July, not long after taking the helm of Sage North America as CEO, Pascal Houillon told Summit attendees the iconic product brands would be no more by 2013. Instead, Sage will lead with its overall brand, grouping products in numbered categories based on market size as in Europe, such as Sage 50 for the SMB segment.

“I’m sure many of you are surprised by this,” said Houillon last year. “But as long as we continue to invest our emotions in product brands we’ll never build the Sage brand.”

Reaction from partners at the conference to the news was mixed, with some questioning both the purpose and the potential cost to partners in changes to web sites, collateral and other marketing activities. Others though agreed it was important for Sage to build awareness of the company’s brand, rather than focusing on product-level branding.

Competitors to Sage have seen opportunity around the rebranding. At its SuiteWorld conference in San Francisco last May, NetSuite channel chief Craig West told CDN they’ve been getting a lot of interest from Sage customers concerned about the company’s direction, including the brand changes and their cloud computing strategy.

“That’s the community that seems to have suddenly fallen beyond the point of no return in waiting for the vendor to deliver cloud solutions they can represent. There’s nobody I talk to more than Sage partners right now,” said West “There’s a lot of decision-making that has a lot of Sage partners scratching their heads.”

One such partner is Axis Global Partners, a Florida-based partner with offices in Toronto and Ottawa that has a long-developed Sage business and signed with NetSuite just prior to the conference. Manny Buigas, an Axis principal, said they’ll continue to offer Sage’s Accpac and Pro ERP offerings for customers looking for on-premise solutions but turned to NetSuite for a cloud option.

“We wanted to extend our offerings so we didn’t have to say no to anyone,” said Buigas. “Some of the people coming into the market are only looking for (cloud-based) products, and if you don’t have it you’re not in the game.”

Sage did launch its cloud computing vision at last year’s conference which included Connected Services, a hybrid of on premise and cloud-based services that offers additional functionality around core Sage offerings. The strategy also includes online business solutions, which allow customers to pick and choose the functionality they need from Sage offerings, and purchase it through an on-demand model.

At this year’s event, expect an update on both the rebranding and the cloud computing strategy from Houillon and other Sage executives. Watch CDN and follow @JeffreyJedras Monday through Wednesday for reporting from Summit, including an exclusive interview with channel chief Tom Miller.