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Sage Providing Solutions Which Form The Heart of a Business
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September 25, 2019 News

 

Disruptive Tech Asean, received an invite from Sage to attend a press luncheon to get updated on what Sage is up to in the region.

We review every invitation that comes in (we get a lot), and we all had the same instant reaction. “Sage? That’s accounting software, we don’t cover that”, but the entire editorial team also knew that despite the strong association with accounting, Sage has a much wider solution set than accounts. The group agreed it was time to meet some Sage executives and find out a bit more about what they have to offer and whether their technology is driving businesses to participate in the digital and sharing economy.

During our lunch meeting at Aloft in KL Sentral, our first conversation was with Azlan Ahmad, Head of SME sales across Asia. Azlan himself is very focused on accounting-based solutions, but his insight was broader than that alone. He told us how Sage had recently completed a large exercise of surveying their own customer database, and they found that despite the hype around cloud, many businesses particularly SMEs in the South East Asia region are still very hesitant to move to the cloud. Many are uncomfortable moving their financial data to a cloud provider, and many of Sage’s customers continue to prefer on-premise solutions. It is an interesting insight, in an industry “obsessed” by transformative technology that many businesses are still rooted firmly in what we can term “bricks and mortar” technology.

However, in the micro-business space, Azlan told us that the company has a big push on Sage Business Cloud accounting and that the adoption is high. They find that many businesses move to this platform having not previously used automated financial systems. According to Azlan, Sage focuses on helping even the smallest business automate processes. As an example linking their accounting system directly to their bank account. This eliminates hours of manual booking keeping work, allowing micro-businesses owners to focus on winning business not administering it.

We then had the chance to chat with Sage’s Chief Growth Officer for Asia, Sushil Singh who got into the meat of how Sage is helping businesses from micro to enterprise, with accounting, financials and ERP.

According to Sushil, these components are the “heart of every business”  and driving business efficiency, developing new business models and making smart business decisions means that the heart must be strong and well looked after.

Sushil also explained more about his own job title as the use of the word “Growth” is significant for Sage. His role is not just about growing revenue, but it relates to the Sage Eco System of users, accountants, SI’s, developers and other technology providers. For Sage to grow, the whole ecosystem also needs to grow, and Sushil is tasked with working across that whole gambit.

That ecosystem is even more than the business partners. Sushil explained that key to Sage’s strategy and that of every one of their clients are two very important touchpoints; Government and banks. The first because every business needs to follow stay tax and be regulation-compliant, banks because they are the wheels that enable cashflow and transactions. Sushil helps Sage include these two sectors in what he regards as his Sage ecosystem and spends time working and collaborating in both sectors.

He also explained that in Malaysia, specifically, the links are very strong. Sage acquired UBS almost a decade ago and have ever since had a strong footprint in the country and has continued to invest in over the years with developers and customer service teams employed in the country. Sushil elaborated how this local depth of skills, meant that Sage has an extremely deep understanding on the nuances of local businesses and the integration needs they have with local banks and regulations, making the Sage proposition particularly strong in Malaysia and bordering countries.

For Sushil, he is excited about Sage’s role in their client’s journey. Sage is much more than accounting and ERP; it’s a platform for enabling businesses to evolve and thrive in the digital economy. He explained how Sage’s open platform link to disruptive technologies like Blockchain and IoT sensors to pull real-world data from businesses processes together with core financial and customer data.

Giving an example of a European customer working with Sage, he used the term from Farm to Table, showing how by integrating blockchain into Sage, the customer is able to trackback from finished products right through the person and time the raw materials were harvested. Combining this with core data that Sage already holds, enables insights that were never before possible, such as understanding the costs of every stage of the supply chain process. Having such granular insights can enable a business to pinpoint specific areas to drive efficiencies that they were never able to do before.

Like many successful companies that have their beginnings planted in the last century, to stay successful Sage is in its own transformation. Many people will think of them for accounting, but the truth is a long way from that. Like many in their space, Sage is moving with the times, and positioning like others in the space, to make financial systems and data a core engine of business development.

 

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