I had a great time attending #SageSummit 2017 in London on 6th April 2017. Whilst it’s nothing like Salesforce.com’s annual pilgrimage to the capital city of the UK, it was nevertheless a great opportunity for the Sage’s ecosystem to come together.
Whilst I have known Sage since I entered the #Fintech world with my first tech startup, ebdex (2004 to 2006), this was the second time I attended a Sage conference (almost forgot the first time, which was in Manchester). The exhibition hall was well arranged and was beaming with participants. It was held at ExCeL London where all major events usually take place.
Unfortunately, I missed meeting with Stuart Lynn and Nick Goode. Perhaps I should have attended the Summit the day before which was targeted at partners. I could not find anyone to discuss in detail what we have built and how to co-market. There was no ISV corner.
I also made a mistake by staying in the exhibition hall instead of attending various seminars after the morning keynote sessions. With hindsight, I should have been bit better organised.
UnifiedVU Preparation for Sage Summit
Whilst we already had SageOne App built, we managed to get it published on Sage Market Place ahead of the Summit. On Monday, we decided to add our first banking App, Tide. UnifiedVU team built the App within 3 days and managed to get it to talk to SageOne in record time.
I was able to demonstrate UnifiedVU Platform with SageOne and Tide during the Summit, which was well received.
Deloitte vs PwC
Deloitte and PwC were two of the main sponsors of the event, each with drastically different attitudes and engagement. PwC was warm and engaging. Deloitte had more of a corporate front and showed no interest in engaging with me. They had less than a handful of team, where as PwC was buzzing with friendly staff. Deloitte team that attends Salesforce events are well tuned and engaging compared to what I experienced at Sage Summit on the day! It’s almost like Deloitte were there simply to show the face with no clear strategy of how to get the best out of their spend, which of course is peanuts compared to their global marketing spend.
On the other hand, PwC was a pleasure to engage with. First I met the lady in the picture and we immediately hit it off. Prior to attending, PwC’s Paul Lantsbury was already engaging with me. It was great to meet him and discuss partnership opportunities. The free professional photography taking was a canny way to get everyone engaging. Photographs were then turned into tweets, which increased the engagement.
Then I bumped into Tony Price, whom I have met in Manchester before. What a joy to catch up with Tony and explain what I am up to these days. I then got a demo of what PwC is up to in terms of their proposition for smaller companies. The big 4 are toying with smaller companies through their technology led accountancy services. KPMG, PwC and Deloitte are all trying to increase their foothold. Whilst I don’t believe it, they all claim that there is margin to be made servicing smaller clients.
Unknown to me, PwC is engaging with startups both in London and Manchester (ok, Salford!). In Manchester, they have teamed up with Up Accelerator, BUPA, Media City and Salford Royal Foundation Trust.
I look forward to continue developing relationships with those I met at the Summit.
9 Spokes and the living legend, Thomas Power
9 Spokes, a New Zealand stock exchange listed tech startup is quite active in marketing their proposition at major events, these days. Their Non Executive Director, Thomas Power is a living legend in my books for founding and running the first social network eacademy, even though his wife, Penny Power got the OBE instead of Thomas. It was good to hangout with Thomas after a long time.
Technology wise, it’s hard to get excited about 9 Spokes. Business model wise, they have found a route to market that is quite exciting. Instead of charging for a commoditised product, i.e. business intelligence, they have made the product available to anyone free of charge, at least during this stage of development. In terms of monetising, they are offering it to Barclays and Deloitte’s smaller customers free of charge for which both companies are paying a hefty sum.
There is another aspect I like about 9 Spokes (other than Thomas’ engagement), i.e. each 9 Spokes App is presented on a fixed frame, unlike PowerBI and the likes which are complex and messy, when it comes to design and User Interface. This shows classy execution!
I’m sure we are only seen a fraction of what 9 Spokes can achieve. They seem to have a good start of bringing simplicity to simple analytics. No doubt, they will bring more complex analytics later on. They must be watching the market leader, Domo, which has raised a whopping $400m+. Wonder whether they would go head to head one day, or one acquires the other.
In terms of my acquisition predictions, I predict that Salesforce will acquire Sage in order to reach the $20 billion revenue target, possibly within the next 3 to 4 years, if not earlier.
How Sage can improve:
I’ve attended events run by SAP (SAP Sapphire 2007 in Vienna), Salesforce Cloudforce London (since 2009), QuickBooks, Oracle and many more over the years. In terms of buzz, Salesforce leads the pack. As a strategic partner of Salesforce, Sage should take tips from Saleforce in running proper demos on the stage and not just show slides. Yes, Alexa and the robot on the stage were exciting, but they come no where to the professionalism of how Salesforce runs the show.
It would have been nice to rub shoulders with CEO, Stephen Kelly. Whilst Marc Benioff no longer attend London show, he was nevertheless the key to success of the early years of Salesforce in London. A CEO can articulate the story like no other. Alain Laing did a great job in the absence of Stephen.
Thirdly, the event’s mobile App was appalling. It looked like someone suddenly remembered that they need an app and bought whatever they can find from the market. I would encourage Sage to look at the App used by QuickBooks in their recent event in London.
Lastly, I was expecting to find a team of folks who could help us as an ISV Partner leverage Sage’s ecosystem. It was good to meet local boys Datel and Pinnacle among the exhibitors. Unfortunately, none of them deal with SageOne, so would need to support Sage Live before we can team up with them.
In summary, it was a great event. Met folks who can help us move forward. Thank you Sage.