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Sage consolidating channel programs for the cloud

Channel StrategySage

CHICAGO – In one fell swoop Sage whittled down the number of regional channel programs to the bone.

Sage Channel Chief Alan Laing announced that the 54 regional channel programs the company ran has been consolidated to just one worldwide program. Laing also wasted no time at the 2016 Sage Summit to address key issues with its partner base.

Those issues, according to Laing, are product road maps, Sage being difficult to do business with, too much constant change leading to complexity, lack of demand and lead generation and increasing the brand awareness of Sage.

Sage Channel Chief Alan Laing

Sage Channel Chief Alan Laing

What’s motivating Sage is it aspiration to be a cloud-first software vendor. “The big leap is to cloud solutions to help partners make more money with Sage. But it will be with choice as we are not going force any migrations. We want easy migrations and only when the customers are ready,” he said.

Laing added that by doing this type of channel program consolidation all at once can remove a lot of the complexity that is there now, while also adding more assets and benefits for solution providers.

The new worldwide program will have a new portal site, renewals, education, training and an increase in market development funds.

Another new development at the Sage Summit is to switch general market terms such as small business and mid-market to start-up, scale-up and enterprise.

“We can support all levels of customers,” he said.

But Sage CEO Stephen Kelly said to the more than 2,000 channel partners in attendance; the company has much bigger ambitions that include VARs, system integrators, cloud service providers, ISVs, application builders, consultants, accountants and strategic alliances.

He told a story about his time at Oracle when his boss Ray Lane developed a small team that would open up the channel business for the database giant. Kelly recruited more than 1,000 partners for that project and rewired the organization’s DNA culture which resulted in exponential growth.

Sage CEO Stephen Kelly

Sage CEO Stephen Kelly

“I want to create a similar situation that’s more special at Sage,” Kelly said.

He added customers today want to consume services and Sage’s product line specifically in the enterprise space with Sage X3 is in a SaaS model. “By 2020 60 to 70 per cent of software will be cloud based so we need to reinvent the business for the cloud.”

With that Kelly outline five pillars for Sage’s business in the cloud.

1. Winning in the market with cloud business solutions that involves improved marketing, brand and customer experiences.

2. Customers for life with no forced migrations that can support desktop environments and cloud.

3. Sage is working to revolutionize the business instead of catching up to the QuickBooks or FreshBooks but to leap frog those cloud-based competitors. This would include innovating in areas such as Internet of Things, data analytics and blockchain.

4. Building capacity for growth that can scale fast and being easier to do business with for solution providers.

5. Having a One Sage experience where channel partners are integrated with the company’s sales force.