Making work look like fun
Tom Miller has announced that he will retire from Sage North America on March 29, 2013.
This is not new news – it’s been out there for a while now. It took me a while to figure out what I would like to say.
I would like to use this space and honor his legacy.
Personally I’ve always been the type of guy that likes to sharpen the saw by reading smart ideas by smart people presented in new and interesting ways. Yet, while reading these sources of information and inspiration, I’m always reminded of the classics – Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Peter Drucker, Napoleon Hill – which, to me, are the fundamental sources upon which most other business philosophies are built upon.
I am not going out too far on a limb to say: Tom Miller is the embodiment of these fundamental sources of business inspiration.
He’s a living, breathing example of those classics.
I would challenge anyone to name a time where they interacted with Tom and didn’t come away richer for the experience. Whether it’s direct advice or, more likely than not, you walking away thinking you came up with a great idea even though he skillfully planted it, fed and watered it and helped it grow.
Tom has mastered the unbelievably difficult skill of helping others reach their potential. He’s not in the fish-handing-out business, he’s in the teaching-people-to-fish business.
He embodies the positive thinking, get ‘er done, 1 + 1 can equal 3 mentality that I aspire to maintain. Tom doesn’t see obstacles and problems, he sees opportunities and exciting challenges. Tom believes in the power of free enterprise and the ability of sharp business owners to find ways to create value for their customers, their partners and themselves.
Kicking myself for not attending the Jamaica Academy!
The new certification process required by Sage to ensure consistent, high-quality customer experiences across the channel requires partners to attend the mandatory Sage Consulting Academy. Now this may initially be seen as an unnecessary burden to many firms that have been in the channel satisfactorily serving clients for ten, twenty even thirty plus years.
Yeah … I feel your pain. We can sit around and gripe all day long about the injustices in the world and the foolishness of such a session for individuals as well-established and seasoned as you and I, dear reader.
Or … maybe we can look at this as an opportunity?
An opportunity to revisit our practices, routines, methodologies that we have built over the years (either explicitly or by default) to serve clients. After all, the reseller and professional service firm industry is undergoing huge transformations right now alongside the software publishers (and, frankly, almost every other industry out there as well).
Isn’t now a great time to review these things? Before it’s too late and you find yourself in an untenable position?
It’s good to keep this thought in mind:
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U. S. Army
You can read about one partner’s experiences here and how she (Susan Cardoza at Sysera) changed her mind after attending. I’m sure others have similar experiences to share.
One apparent hit with the Sage Consulting Academy was recently written up by Wayne Schulz on his channel-focused site, www.erplife.com. Read about here.
In the meantime, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.
Sage have announced their sales award winners for the 2011 (October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011). Top North American Partner of the Year is Brandon Florida’s Alliance Solutions Group LLC who specialize in selling and consulting on Sage’s Construction software solutions (Sage Timberline, Sage Masterbuilder) with commercial and industrial contractors, electrical and mechanical contractors, residential builders, real estate managers and developers.
The elite group of partners who achieve the highest total product revenue across all of Sage North America.
Rounding out the top 5 Sage partners of the year:
- Blytheco, LLC
- Net@Work, Inc
- Accordant Company, LLC
- ADSS Global
Sage announced the following Chairman’s Club winners who earned the distinction by selling a minimum of 10 new customer additions as well as top sales achievement.
- Accordant Company, LLC
- ADSS Global
- Aktion Associates, Inc.
- Alliance Solutions Group
- Blytheco, LLC
- CommQuest, Inc.
- Delphia Consulting, LLC
- Design R1 Software, LLC
- Dresser & Associates, Inc.
- DSD Business Systems
- Eos Group, Inc.
- Infinity Info Systems Corporation
- Insperity Time and Attendance
- JMT Consulting Group
- Net@Work, Inc.
- Non Profit Technologies
- Praxi Solutions, Inc.
- ProSoft Solutions
- SWK Technologies, Inc.
- United Solutions, Inc.
Sage’s Top Performers In Each Product Line
- ADSS Global – Sage ERP Accpac
- Alliance Solutions Group – Sage Timberline Office
- Alliance Solutions Group – Sage Master Builder
- Blytheco, LLC – Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200
- Blytheco, LLC – Sage ERP MAS 500
- Britec Computer Systems, Ltd. – Sage BusinessVision Accounting
- Business Software Solutions – Sage Peachtree
- CommQuest, Inc. – ACT! by Sage
- CompuFinancial – Sage TimeSlips
- Digitek Solutions, LLC – Sage Timberline Enterprise
- Dresser & Associates, Inc. – Sage Abra
- IMS – Sage FAS Fixed Assets
- Infinity Info Systems Corporation – Sage SalesLogix
- JMT Consulting Group – Sage Fundraising
- JMT Consulting Group – Sage Fund Accounting
- Lorelei Walker, CPA – Sage BusinessWorks Accounting
- Lexnet Consulting Group – SageCRM
- Moncrief Technology Solutions – Sage PFW ERP
- Sales Automation Services, Inc. – Sage DacEasy
- Tangerine Software, Inc. – Sage ERP X3
- WAC Consulting – Sage Pro ERP
Spirit and Community Service awards were presented to partners in the community who represented diverse, vibrant and strong contributors.
The recipients of the 2010 Sage Spirit Award are:
- Azamba Consulting Group
- HBM Integrated Technology, Inc.
- Sales Automation Services, Inc.
The recipients of the Sage Community Service Award for 2010 are:
- Bredet Services, Inc.
- Infinity Info Systems
Via: Sage 2011 Partner Advantage Award Series – Announcing This Year’s Award Recipients
Sage recently announced a new VP, Nancy Harris, who is taking over for Jamie Sutherland who seems to have quietly departed around April 2011 as prior VP.
Prior to joining Sage, Harris was chief operating officer at ESO Solutions – a private, SaaS-based software solutions company servicing the emergency management services market – where she was responsible for the company’s day-to-day operations, specifically in the areas of client services, marketing, product management and product development.
Previously, Harris spent nearly a decade with Asure Software in progressively senior marketing, strategic planning and general management roles, culminating in her appointment as COO. Under her leadership, Harris executed a strategic acquisition that saw the company’s revenue double that year.
Sage Simply is a predominantly Canadian Small Business accounting package. Interestingly they brought Nancy on as VP of Sage Simply – a different title than Jamie’s which was VP of Sage Small Business Canada. This may be a hint that the Sage Simply brand might survive Sage’s Fall 2011 product re-branding program.
When asked about the title shuffle Sage replied that The GM & VP role that Nancy has assumed has always been solely focused on the Sage Simply Accounting line. Nancy will be responsible for Simply in the Canadian and U.S. Hispanic markets and connected services associated with Simply, such as our current SaaS offering for entry level businesses – Sage Billing Boss.
Jamie Sutherland also had charge of “several emerging online applications and initiatives catering to the needs of small businesses”. These likely would have included the applications offered on the SageSpark site (Sage Spark, Payment Plus, Payment Boss, and Known Locally services) which were recently reorganized on July 31, 2011 to fall under the core Sage Simply Accounting and Sage Billing Boss services.
According to Sage; Nancy’s SaaS background will additionally be put to good use managing the Billing Boss online offering. Sage made a bashful announcement of a true SaaS offering which according to Sage-ites on the Summit trade show floor is an entry level SaaS similar to Peachtree. Still unknown is whether part of Nancy’s charge might be a oversee that SaaS offering when it’s officially revealed later this year.
Apparently August 3, 2011 was In ‘n Out Burger Day at Sage’s North American corporate headquarters. While I’m not entirely certain what else was on the agenda it seems certain that it included burgers and a little baseball.
Check this video out as incoming Sage CEO Pascal Houillon wastes no time dunking Sage’s fully clothed Channel Chief Tom Miller . In only two pitches Tom was in the tank – denim jeans and all.
This seems like a promising event for Sage to feature at next year’s Sage Summit 2012 conference.
Just a reminder that to board the bus to the Night at The Museum event tonight (July 13, 2011) you’ll need to have passes which you can pick up from 11:30 am to 8:00 pm right outside the exhibition hall.
Bus boarding starts at 6:55pm and those attending will be called in order by their company name.
I would like to start by suggesting that this is a purely speculative post and expresses only my own opinion. Please draw your own conclusions.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people since the keynote and there are some big concerns about moving the focus from the individual product brands to emphasize focus on the core Sage brand. Nothing has been firmly announced yet but the speculation is that the new branding will see product names go away to be replaced by numbers with product type designations – much like the Sage UK and European product naming.
Is this a bad thing? I realize that there are some very strong brand names in the Sage portfolio – Act!, Peachtree, MAS, Accpac, Saleslogix, etc. and there are a large number of customers using each of these products that recognize the current name.
But… are they invested emotionally with the product name? I’m not so sure. The names are used as placeholders – “my Act! system”, “enter it into Peachtree”, “get the reports from MAS” (or “Accpac”), etc. In general, we don’t see people jumping up on couches professing love for Peachtree like Tom Cruise famously did about Katie Holmes.
In fact, in many ways, shifting the focus to the Sage brand instead of individual products allows the customers, the channel and Sage to develop a clean, consistent image of the brand that allow more of a family feeling to spread for the suite of products – as opposed to loyalty to any specific products. This is a huge advantage for all involved.
Think about Apple for a moment. Apple puts out an iPad and you expect a certain amount of quality and pizzazz from the product before you even speak to a sales person or read a brochure or pick up the device. It helps me as a customer identify what I should expect and it helps Apple engineers understand that same message.
Yes – there may be some pain during the transition and, I suspect, that some folks will be still calling their software by the old, individual product name for years to come but overall I think this is a brilliant and long overdue by Sage.
The conference got off to a great start with a rockin’ video featuring Sage Irvine team members lip synching to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (not sure if that’s the official title).
Pascal Houillon, the new CEO for Sage North America delivered a solid presentation. He got some good laughs and proceeded to outline some strategy changes – mostly on how Sage is starting down the road of shifting focus on the Sage brand and away from the individual products such as MAS, Accpac, Peachtree, ACT!, Saleslogix, etc.
Individually these brands are solid and well-known but the challenge that they present is the customer is not connected to Sage as a group of products. The core problem here is that customers that could benefit from other Sage products don’t identify those products as sister or brother products to what they own. This means that the sales process starts from step one with each new product.
The idea of shifting away from long-established product brands is bold. There will be some pain (ok … maybe a lot of pain) for partners and Sage itself as they establish this brand but, personally, I think it makes a lot of sense and will make it easier for customers to feel comfortable with the Sage family of products.
In the long-run, this should make all of our lives easier.
Not a lot of details were provided. Pascal and his team may still be working some of it. I’m guessing we will see and hear some things soon over the coming weeks and months.
Comment below if you have specific questions.
I remember seeing quite a few great performers at past Sage events. My personal favorite was Eddie Money who appeared on stage at the Orlando conference (then known as Insights). Then there was the year when the lead singers of Loverboy, Toto, and Survivor collaborated on stage to sing their hits from the 1980s. They won’t be appearing this year – but there’s something more intriguing.
This year Sage brings entertainment provided by the channel. Partners and Sage employees will put on their best singing voices, spandex pants and hit the stage on Monday July 11. The event is the Fire and Ice party being held in Expo Hall E. This year instead of a paid band you can rock out to the sounds of Sage partners and employees.
Probably the best reason to attend Sage’s annual customer and partner conferences is to meet and make new friends. How many times have you wished you had a way to get a quick second opinion on software that you were thinking of purchasing or a tough technical issue that you were t-h-i-s close to solving.
Here’s a tip – - take names at conferences.
Make note of the people who you sit with at lunches and breakfast. Chances are they’re a wealth of information – all willing to be shared.