TORONTO – On Tuesday Sage held the eighth and final stop on its Sage Summit road show this season, at the Beanfield Centre on the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto. While the company made no broad product or strategy announcements, they did announce several things of special significance to the Canadian market. First, while the company’s Canadian operations have been managed to date out of Richmond B.C., they will be opening a Canadian office this summer. Secondly, several Canadian road map elements were presented, with the most notable being that Sage’s Pegg bot will become part of Sage One in Canada next month.
“I want you to know that we are on your team, and that we stand shoulder to shoulder with Business Builders in Canada,” said Stephen Kelly, Sage’s CEO, in the opening keynote to Canadian customers at the event. Sage identifies its largely SMB customer base as Business Builders, many of whom work for more than 70 hours a week, and who create 70 per cent of the jobs in Canada.
“As your champion, we know you deserve awesome technology that’s easy to use, and lets you power your business from the palm of your hand,” Kelly added.
Kelly also stressed the work of the Sage Foundation to the audience.
“We are absolutely passionate about doing business the right way, making a difference and giving back to our community, making capitalism complete and compassionate,” he stressed. Kelly emphasized Sage’s support for the Invictus Games, an event created by Prince Harry of the British royal family, which brings together wounded, sick and disabled military veterans in a Paralympics-type event. Sage will be making a further announcement on Wednesday regarding their support for the Invictus Games.
“Our whole message here is around innovation, that we are the trusted partners to take customers forward in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, allowing technology to be available to all rather than just a few,” Kelly said. “Sage’s technology and our vision will turbocharge the growth in your business.”
Kelly announced that Sage is increasing its presence in the Canadian market. At the end of the month, they are opening up a second office in Toronto, which will work alongside their existing Canadian office in Richmond B.C.
“We are very excited about having an office in Toronto,” Kelly said. “To me, adding the Toronto office is more of an ‘and’ thing in terms of its relationship to the Richmond office, rather than an ‘or’ thing. We see the Toronto market as more of our enterprise and mid-market hub. It puts us close to our partners who work with financial institutions, and gives us access to a great pool of talent. At the same time, a lot of the products we have in Canada – Sage 50 and Sage 300 – were born on the west coast, and we want to keep that spirit alive, so the two offices will co-exist.”
“I’ll be moving between both offices,” said Paul Struthers, EVP and Managing Director of Sage Canada.
Kelly also highlighted the results of new survey data just released by Sage, which comes from an online survey of 505 small business owners across Canada they commissioned, and which was conducted in June.
“Last year, only 25 per cent of Canadian business builders felt fairly represented by government,” Kelly said. The data indicated that only 26 per cent found federal government initiatives to be helpful to their business, while a similar low percentage (25 per cent) concluded the same about provincial government initiatives. More than half (51) per cent said too many government regulations and/or taxes was the most common day-to-day challenge faced by their business. A third (32 per cent) also said they felt a general lack of support from the government. At the same time, most (85 per cent) are optimistic about the future of their business, and almost as many (74 per cent) are generally optimistic about the future of small businesses in Canada.
“While the survey results are relatively optimistic, as evidence by the 85 per cent level of optimism, the sad part is that 51 per cent are frustrated by bureaucracy,” Struthers said.
Kelly said that Sage is working on their customers’ behalf, working with local Chambers of Commerce and small business lobby groups to lobby politicians and improve the environment for small business.
“We want to remove the roadblocks to growth for SMBs,” he said. “For example, in the U.K., we led a campaign around prompt payments, advocating a 30-day payment policy, in order to treat our suppliers well. We have had successes in having companies like Lloyds adopt this. We think we need to be relentless in advocating the reduction of bureaucracy and red tape.”
“We are eternally optimistic and confident about driving change,” Struthers said. “We are bringing together all the key constituents in driving that change – politicians, educational institutions, and experts. It won’t be easy, but we will push together to drive change.”
Sage executives reviewed Sage’s existing product set for customers, with a clear message being apparent.
“We will continue to invest in the products you already have, and when you are ready to adopt pure cloud products, we have products ready in the wings for you,” Kelly said.
While no new solutions were announced, one new announcement was made relative to Canadian availability for Pegg, the chat bot that Sage introduced last year at the Sage Summit in Chicago.
“Next month, Pegg will work with Sage One right here in Canada,” Kelly said. Sage One is Sage’s cloud-based offering for what it calls the Startup component of the market.