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Smaller Summit, Bigger Response – Why regional events may make more sense for our market.

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

MAS200 SQL 4.5 Users: Say Hello To Sage Common Payroll

Sage was dodgy when we grilled them questioned them last year at the annual Sage Insights 2010 reseller conference about the plans for payroll in the upcoming Sage MAS 200 SQL 4.5 re-write. The concerns then (and now) are that non-framework modules (namely Payroll, Job Cost, Work Order, and MRP) will NOT integrate to the new MAS 200 SQL 4.5 release.

We spoke to the product managers who didn’t have much information about what options would be available for payroll users – potentially the most popular of the non-framework MAS90/MAS200 modules.

Potentially the lack of integration to Payroll would have kept some users from being able to adopt MAS 200 SQL (may we suggest that for many of those users that 90 Minds member DSD Business Systems SQL Mirroring is a kick ass solution) . Now Sage has just released information on their new Common Payroll initiative.

Sage is using Accpac SQL as a common payroll module to be shared by several other different SQL ERP packages. By sharing the one Payroll (aka common) module Sage hopes to reduce development time during the busy year end tax season when most states and governments work overtime to release tax changes (not always as quickly as we’d like).

There will be some limitations – and Sage has released a chart that ranks the level of integration on a scale from 1 to 3.

Level 1 = General Ledger  (aka journal entry only)

Level 2 = General Ledger, Job Cost, Bank Reconciliation

Level 3 = Tight integration -contains the look and feel of the entire ERP system

Initially look for Common Payroll to roll out to the products identified above. Existing users of payroll will NOT have to switch – this announcement is only for the relatively newer versions — such as MAS 200 SQL 4.5 — which were previously lacking any payroll functionality.

Sage Common Payroll Announced

Everything You Wanted To Know About Sage ERP MAS Intelligence (And Some Things You Didn’t)

Sage today released for download their Sage ERP MAS Intelligence which is the replacement for FRX. This Microsoft Excel based tool will access all of your data files (not just financial data as FRX did) and allow you to create true Business Intelligence reporting.

Consultants can download the software now. End users will receive a link or CD within the new few weeks.

Sage has published a number of documents including this helpful “Everything You Wanted To Know” guide which we’ve pasted in below:

Sage ERP MAS Intelligence

Link: Sage ERP MAS Intelligence

MAS 90 And The Case Of The Disappearing Single User License – Solved?

A few consultants have been noticing that  clients on older (and even 4.x)  versions of MAS 90 have odd numbered license counts.
Some users are showing as 2 MAS90 licenses. Some have 6 licenses. After applying an upgrade we’ve heard from a few people that the license count mysteriously drops by one.

This is fine if the client was only using one license – but for clients using two licenses they suddenly are faced with both the expense of an upgrade and a surprise bill to purchase another user license.

Only Sage no longer sells single licenses – so the client’s are urged to buy bundles of licenses at over $2,000 just to get the extra license back.

Sage’s explanation?

It seems to vary depending upon who you talk to though I keep hearing that Sage denies ever selling single licenses — so that any user with 2 or 6 licensed users on the system just has to be a mistake.

Or is it a mistake?

Take a look at this press release which seems to explain at least one scenario where a user could have an extra license on their system. As part of a Year 2000 settlement Sage granted certain qualified users the option of a free additional user license.

I cannot say definitively that if you have an older installation of MAS 90 dating back to 3.x and suddenly notice 1 user subtracted that the following issue will get your single user license back – it’s sure worth a try.

And as noted on the settlement information – the client had to be on maintenance during the proper timeframe in order to qualify for the free user license.

Update: The post was changed slightly to remove quotes from Sage consultants concerned about retaliation from the publisher from providing their experiences.

Kudos to 90Minds member Mark Chinsky for digging through the email archives for the following information.

Y2K LITIGATION: Sage Settles Action Over MAS 90 Software For Up To $8.5M

Sage Inc. has agreed to provide an estimated $ 5.6 million to $ 8.5 million
in product credits to settle a class action over Y2K compliancy of its MAS
90 accounting software (DBN, Inc. t/a Y-PERS v. Sage Software, Inc., et
al., No. 799983, Calif. Super., Orange Co.).(Preliminary Approval Order in Section A. Document # 36-000928-101)
Plaintiff DBN Inc. (t/a "Y-PERS") and Sage have also agreed to a payment to
plaintiffs' counsel of $ 700,000 in fees and costs under a pact
preliminarily approved by Orange County (Calif.) Superior Court Judge
William F. McDonald on Aug. 23.
Pennsylvania-based DBN sued in 1998 on behalf of an estimated 44,000 users
of MAS 90, complaining that the copy it licensed in May 1996 for $ 5,904.20
would not recognize four-digit years. The product was advertised as
software which would take users 'through the 90s and beyond," DBN said.
Judge McDonald overruled Sage's demurrer on Jan. 8, 1999, and on May 27,
1999, certified a nationwide class of users pursuant to the parties'
The notice of proposed settlement attached to the order granting
preliminarily approval notes that Sage contests the allegations and was
prepared to seek summary judgment. Sage maintains that the Year
2000-compliant version contains numerous enhancements and the cost of the
date recognition upgrades was minimal.
                         Settlement Terms
The proposed settlement would give licensees credit toward new or upgraded
Those who licensed MAS 90 after June 1, 1995, purchased upgrades, and are
on a maintenance program would have their choice of a "bank reconciliation"
module, one additional user license, three months of telephone support or a
single user license for Sage's DAC Easy accounting software.* 1995 and
beyond licensees who purchased upgrades and are not on a maintenance
program could opt for one additional user license for MAS 90, a $ 200
coupon toward the purchase of a maintenance program, three months of
telephone support or a single user license for DAC Easy software.* Pre-1995
licensees would be entitled to coupons for MAS 90 software or user licenses
ranging from $ 50 to $ 175, depending on when they acquired the product.
The settlement release will not affect users who ceased using the product
between Oct. 31, 1997, and March 31, 2000. The settlement excludes recovery
for users who received upgrades at no charge.
MAS 90 users have until Nov. 8 to submit a proof of claim. Judge McDonald
scheduled a hearing for that date on final approval.
Co-lead counsel for the settlement class are Jeffrey A. Klafter of
Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann in New York and Harris L. Pogust of
Sherman, Silverstein, Kohl, Rose & Podolsky in Pennsauken, N.J. Plaintiffs'
counsel also includes Jonathan Shub of Sheller, Ludwig & Badey in
Philadelphia, Marc H. Edelson of Hoffman & Edelson in Doylestown, Pa., and
William M. Hensley of the Law Offices of Mark A. Kompa in Newport Beach,
Calif. Sage is represented by Melody Williams Dapp of Pillsbury Madison &
Sutro in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Mealey's Year 2000 Report, September, 2000)

Microsoft Convergence 2010 Notes

Note: The following report is submitted by one of our 90Minds members. I am reposting this on their behalf.

I am at Microsoft Convergence this week.

It is pretty clear the cloud is coming. We have been working with Server Virtualization lately. The new tools from Microsoft with the virtualization technology is a “game changer” as Sage would put it. Microsoft is investing 70% of $9B R&D in Virtualization in 2010 and 90% over the next couple of years.

Sounds like Iron Mountain may offer Server VHDs with their STAAS offering. If this is the case, we may see Server OS turn to a commodity market like IIS and other Web hosting servers.

GP has been on a back burner for the last year or 2. GP 2010 is being released over the next couple of weeks. Lots of new features, workflow, roles, etc out of the box. Tight integration with Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Exchange 2010, etc…

Unified Communication is embedded in the GP 2010 app. This may have little impact in the next 1-2 years, but we could easily see adoption as the kids enter the workforce. Instant messaging is becoming increasingly important for younger workers and will most likely become more prominent.

Management Report is FRx with a new wrapper.

Was not really impressed from all of the hype.

They made the point FRx was being retired and MR is only being released for Dynamics products several times. Seems like a stupid strategy mainly to punish other publishers to find alternative solutions. May backfire if some find/make innovative solutions.

Definitely feel Microsoft is providing a good vision much like Sage did in the Hannah/Butler days of the past.

They claim 94 million devices pulled updates for Windows 7 workstation during last release. Pretty impressive. Time to saddle up folks. Windows 7 and 64 bit is here to stay. Apps better deal with it or they will quickly be in the ‘ol DOS category. We plan to have strategic sessions with most of our clients for a migration strategy over the next 18 months.

Data Protection Manager is an excellent tool for midsize business data managment with nice tools/solutions for mobile users with infrequent connections to corporate networks.

Word on the street – Microsoft has fixed the Integration adapter between GP and CRM.

Lots of excitement and enthusiasm in the reseller base. This is users and resellers. Microsoft has 8,500 at the conference. It definitely feels like a large crowd. (ie., bathroom lines are long, exit doors are clogged and meals have a wait) There is definitely a buzz at the conference that I have not seen or felt for several years at Sage or Microsoft.

Most notable is a learning center. Microsoft has 100s if not 1,000s of online demos and hands on labs. There has to be at least 1,000 workstations with dual monitors and headsets in a large room. An impressive sight.

First time that I have been in an old Olympic venue. Big place with large conference rooms…. Cool to imagine the history.