Hi! This is it! My first blog for the Sleeter Group. My hope is that I bring you great information regarding Sage products that you can use to make your practices better. This is perfect timing, because Sage Summit 2015 just took place in New Orleans July 27-30. As someone who has been to this conference multiple times, it’s always impressive, but this year’s event was amazing. With a spacious expo floor, thought leaders had plenty of room to give their sessions to the over 7,500-person crowd. So, Sage Summit 2015 was BIG. And this year, in particular, there was announcement after announcement. Let me be your “roving reporter” and give you a recap of what I think affects us accounting professionals the most, the direction Sage is going in with their solutions, and the corporate philosophy that Sage conveyed during Sage Summit.
The space at the convention center was enormous (per my Apple Watch, I definitely got my daily steps in!) and the keynote hall was large. It had to be, with keynote speakers like Chad Hurley (Cofounder of YouTube), former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and my favorites, The Baroness Karren Brady (BBC’s Apprentice) and Brandi Temple (founder and CEO of Lolly Wolly Doodle). Each of these individuals gave insight into their businesses and customer base, and inspired us to go into the great hall to learn how we could make our businesses better.
Background on Your ‘Roving Sage Reporter’
As a sole proprietor, it’s hard to keep up with the latest advances and trends in accounting technology and get the work done, too. I took what was originally a 25-year-old firm with almost no technology when I began and transformed it into a modern, paperless firm that operates mostly in the cloud. It was hard work, but really worth it! I rely heavily on my technology providers, accounting magazines, blogs, and great friends in the industry to help me stay up to date.
Let me give you a little more insight into why I’m so interested in how technology works for my clients, because I’m not only a CPA, I’m a business owner. Besides my CPA practice, I have multiple real estate companies and own a local restaurant. Being a small business owner gives me a perspective as both a CPA and a business owner, which is invaluable when it comes to guiding and giving advice to my clients, who are mostly also my friends and neighbors. Probably my most important job, though, is “Mom.” If you don’t already know, the right technology can, at times, help take the pressure off having to choose between business and family. My child has no idea how good we have it that I can work from pretty much wherever I need to.
When Doug asked me a few months ago if I wanted to start contributing to the Sleeter Report, I of course jumped at the opportunity! When we first met in 2011, Doug and I had a very in-depth conversation about my love of Sage products and his desire to help the accounting profession. I love the work he has done and continues to do. I’m flattered that I’ve been asked to blog on Sage for the Sleeter Report. Keep in mind that I do use and recommend all types of accounting solutions, technologies, and products, so I’ll be able to not only give you the 411 on all things Sage, but also on how what Sage is doing affects the general landscape of the accounting profession.
Partner Success Day
So, let’s jump in, shall we? Let’s start off with Sage Summit 2015 Partner Success Day.
Sage Summit 2015 kicked off with Partner Success Day, which was all about Sage giving its partners a “sneak peek” at some of the news and announcements coming up over the next few days. Also, it was an opportunity to address some of the concerns that partners have asked about.
As for myself, I’m a partner and member of the Sage Accountants Network, so I was most interested in what Jennifer Warawa, Sage Global Vice President of Product Marketing for Accountants, had to say: “Nearly 100,000 accounting and bookkeeping firms around the world do business with Sage’s Accountants businesses.” I don’t think many realize how large Sage is. That’s quite a footprint! These firms serve around 10 million businesses. That’s a LOT of Sage products being used around the world.
As to how these global numbers represent North America, about 25% of that usage is in the United States and Canada. We went over quite a few stats on cloud adoption in the accounting profession, and the fact that the accounting profession is still lagging behind in cloud adoption. We hear this at every conference we attend, but I like hearing that the tech people know it also. It means they are aware they need to help us do better.
Five New Product Launches + ‘One Sage’
Sage didn’t disappoint. Jennifer got right into the level of innovation and commitment to the accounting profession that Sage has been moving toward over the past year or so. This was important to me because there are other accounting products that have been moving in this direction, and as proprietor of a Sage firm I really wanted to know where Sage was headed.
From what was presented, it’s apparent that Sage is innovating more rapidly than ever before. Here is a quick photo someone shared with me that demonstrates what Sage has created over the past year to show just how the “pace of innovation is accelerating.” Unfortunately, it’s a little blurry, but this slide made an impact on me when I saw it, so I want to share it with you.
There’s not enough room in this blog to go over each of these solutions in detail (I’ll save that for future blog posts), so here’s a super quick overview of each and my take on how they’ll affect you and me as accountants:
- Sage View was launched in the U.S. at the Sleeter Group’s Solutions 14 conference in November. If you were there with me, you’ll remember Jennifer talking about it. I think what makes this product most useful is that it is real-time information to help your clients be proactive instead of reactive. Also, it isn’t just tied to Sage products, but can be used with QuickBooks and other accounting solutions.
- Sage One Accountant Edition lets accountants access all their Sage One clients from a single dashboard with a single login. I use Sage One for some of my clients and love the simplicity it provides. Sage One is for service-based businesses without many employees and with no inventory, so it’s a solution that you’ll need to find the right fit for, like your small electrician or crafter.
- Sage Impact launched a few months ago. This is new to me, so I’m looking forward to learning more. From what I can tell, Sage Impact serves as a “dashboard” for easy access to Sage solutions and other businesses’ solutions (including other accounting products). It’s an online, customizable hub built specifically for accountants and bookkeepers, and integrates with your social streams and Google accounts to run your firm on a daily basis. As an Office365 user, I’m unsure how I’ll be able to use it, but I’m going to keep my eye on it.
- Sage Match is just what it sounds like, a “matchmaking” service. Just like Sage View and Sage Impact, you don’t need to be a Sage accountant or bookkeeper to use it. It’s open to ALL accountants and bookkeepers around the world. With Sage Match, businesses will be able to search accountants and bookkeepers across lots of different criteria. Right now, it’s not open to everyone, but sometime in September it should be.
- Sage Value is what I am most excited about. One of the challenges we, as accountants, struggle with is figuring out a fair price for our knowledge and advisory services. Created with direct feedback and input from Ron Baker and Ed Kless, two amazing thought leaders who are absolute experts when it comes to value pricing, Sage Value is going to try to help us solve this challenge.
After all the product announcements (and there were quite a few), Jennifer went into something she termed ‘One Sage’ (not to be confused with Sage One). What ‘One Sage’ means is working globally on the right technologies and solutions and then layering these into regional (for example, North American) opportunities. So, Sage is evolving on a global level in order to solve issues and provide solutions to everyone who has a common interest. I’m pretty excited about the global aspect of this for our profession.
One key component that struck me: Sage will not force us to migrate.
While Sage is innovating with new cloud solutions one after another, their belief is that we, as accountants and bookkeepers, and our clients, as business owners, are the only ones who can decide if and when it makes sense to migrate to the cloud. Sage will continue to support firms’ on-premises solutions for as long as we need, while at the same time providing the cloud solutions that will take our firms and our customers to the next level. This is important to me as well, because although I LOVE and use the cloud, I have several clients who do not have good Internet access. I feel some products are trying to force us to a cloud when the cloud doesn’t actually exist where these clients are. If you live in a large metro area, where many of these products are born and developed, you may not realize this. But move to Appalachia, where I am, or hang out with some of my farmers, and you’ll figure it out quickly!
Sage Summit Days 1-3
After Partner Success Day, Sage Summit was officially kicked off with Stephen Kelly, Global CEO of Sage, taking the stage for his keynote. Stephen is an interesting guy and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet him face to face a few times during Sage Summit. At New Orleans staple Café du Monde (loved the beignets!), I was able to get a great selfie with him (and his jacket, which I loved – the red lining is awesome … what can I say, I love a good fashion). A Sage One event was held at a high-end bowling alley where Stephen actually took a few turns bowling with us. And, he was having a lot of fun on the closing night of Sage Summit. It’s nice to see the CEO interact with customers, partners, and employees.
We spoke about the products I deal with in the small business world. He reiterated the direction of Sage that Jennifer had touched on the day before. He was kind and open to my questions and asked me for criticism more than once. So far, I’m impressed with him, and with Sage under his leadership.
Stephen also spoke about the official launch of Sage Live, which I am super excited about. Sage Live runs on the Salesforce1 cloud platform, so I’m looking forward to seeing how using this framework helps in its development. The solution revolves around real-time accounting from anywhere, at any time, and from any device. I like the way that it’s built to integrate with third-party apps, as that is the way of the future. More information to come on this solution as I get it!
Following the Stephen Kelly keynote, Himanshu Palsule went over some more product announcements – and the general direction of Sage. In addition to the aforementioned inspiring keynotes each morning, I attended session after session from both thought leaders (loved hearing Ed Kless – he’s so cerebral!) and Sage product experts, and closed out the week with a fun concert in the Keynote Hall featuring Walk the Moon (their current hit is Shut Up and Dance … which I did!).
So, let’s take a second to breathe here. From what I can tell, Sage has upped its game in the innovation arena. It’ll be my job here on the Sleeter Report to give you insights (both good and bad) into all of these new solutions and keep you up to date on the direction Sage is going, so please come back in the future to see what I have to say as I keep you “in the know” on all things Sage! Hey, by the way, Doug and I even made the Sage Summit 2015 – Final Recap video. I was at Café du Monde. Doug was at the conference center. Keep in mind, though, that if you blink at the 41 second mark you might miss me! But you can’t miss Doug!