By Darcy Boerio
Sage unexpectedly changed just about everything about Sage Summit this year. It all started when they broke from tradition and didn?t announce the location for the 2017 event at the end of the 2016 event. At that point, the murmurs began.
Things settled down eventually, and Sage gradually released details on the regional events they were holding all around the world, as Sage Summit evolved into the ?Sage Summit Tour?. The Tour?s path first took them through Australia, France, Germany, South Africa, Spain, and of course, the mothership?s UK, before heading to North America for events in Atlanta and Toronto.
The main difference on the surface this year was that Sage pivoted from their focus (yes, I said ?focus?) in recent years on hosting one large global event to holding many smaller regional events. Last year, the Chicago event was, billed as, ?the world?s largest gathering of entrepreneurs and business builders?, claiming 15,000 in attendance. During the 2016 keynote, they drew attention to the global reach by announcing the various countries in attendance. I had to wonder which products these attendees were using and how much content there would be for them to travel to another continent, but that seemed to be the idea ? Sage knocking down geographic barriers and taking its place as a leading global software provider.
This year, the geographic focus for the Atlanta event was narrowed to North America, or even US-based, with the upcoming Toronto event providing a place for the Canadian constituents. The target for Atlanta was 5,000, less than 1/3 of the goal for last year. One might wonder how the numbers could drop so dramatically from one year to the next. Wouldn?t all the Sage partners and customers in the US that go every year still attend? The answer is still unclear to me, but I will say that the ones who didn?t attend were the multitude of ?Exploring Sage? or ?New to Sage? aka ?I got a free pass, and I?m just here to see the Sharks and get swag and waste your time at your booth that you paid dearly for?. I think I counted two of those in the roughly 15 hours I spent at the CIMcloud booth. As opposed to last year when it was more like two per hour!
I think Summit overall was a positive experience for us. Having the smaller event gave us more time and attention to the people who came to the booth whereas with the ?global? events that we had in the past we probably felt more rushed with each person.? ? Nicole Ronchetti, Director of DSD Enhancements at DSD Business Systems
Agreed, Nicole! By not pedaling free passes to the general public or inviting international customers who couldn?t use our localized products, Sage provided for more focused and relevant expo hall conversations. High attendance numbers are great for signing on exhibitors, but any exhibitor would tell you they?d rather have a smaller number of attendees who are in their target audience than masses of people where half of them aren?t potential customers.
Also notably absent were the big names. Not having the star-studded lineup this year may have disappointed some, but those of us that were there for the learning and networking barely noticed the absence. Maybe it?s just me, but can?t we can go online anytime and watch Ashton Kutcher give a speech?
While Sage One, Sage Live, and the new Sage People were given prominent billing in the keynotes, the US event?s session catalog didn?t necessarily reflect a preference for content on these products. In fact, I vaguely remember complaining one year that attendees? badges didn?t prominently display which Sage product they used. This year I didn?t even notice if they did because it just seemed like everyone I spoke to was using one of the mid-market ERPs that CIMcloud integrates with.
Taking the narrower focus even further, the upcoming Toronto stop?s agenda appears to include no Sage 100-specific content (there are three sessions listed as applicable for Sage 100 users, but none are unique to Sage 100). There?s a fair amount of Sage 300-specific content (which you?d expect since Sage 300 has such a large Canadian presence), quite a bit of Sage 50 content, and I daresay a disproportionate amount of X3 sessions.
Clearly, the smaller events allow Sage to draw the crowds they want in the regions where they want them. Exhibitors, too, can hone in on their target audiences. For example, many ISVs who only integrate with Sage 100 will be passing on the Toronto event. Conversely, those with global reach were given access to overseas Sage users that may not have attended Sage Summit had it been held only in the States.
SMB Jumpstreet reported that Sage also announced a series of ?Sage Sessions? stops, which are single-day events even more micro than the Tour Stops. They appear to be already underway in Europe, but scant information is available online for the proposed 8 North America locations, except the Halifax event that took place in March. I just saw a notice that the Orange County event that was scheduled for June 6 has been postponed until mid-August or September.
It?s hard to say if the announcement of these local events caused some would-be attendees to stay home. If you?re in LA, and you hear that there?s a local Sage Summit event coming later this year, how likely are you to hop on a plane to Atlanta? And is that a bad thing? If the goal is to reach as many customers as possible with as much relevant content and personal interaction with the Sage team as possible, could Sage be onto something with these smaller events?
I love Sage Summit, so while every year has its quirks, I?ve never regretted attending, and this year is no different. It was much smaller and with much less fanfare, but it was still a well-run event with lots of relevant content and contacts for mid-market ERP customers.
If Sage can reset expectations early on for 2018 and be clear about which events are intended for which audiences, the smaller events could be just what we need.
Just don?t ever make me choose between Sage Summit and Meeting of the Minds!
For other opinions, here are some good Summit recaps:
- Sage Summit 2017 wrap-up: On honesty and being yourself by Amanda Lamela, Practical Software
- Sage Summit 2017 Daily Recaps by SMB Jumpstreet
- Enterprise Software Podcast Episode 63 ? Sage Summit Atlanta Recap
- The Ultimate Sage Summit Swag Recap on Periscope