Sage gathered customers, partners and analysts for the launch of the latest version of its X3 ERP software, version 6. But while there were a number of enhancements to the product, the real news was a change in the way that the Newcastle-based firm plans to approach its X3 business.
Speaking to CBR at the launch, Stuart Lynn, head of R&D for Sage’s mid market division, said that the key improvements to the new product included its usability, scalability and configurability. He said it’s targeted primarily at companies with between 12 and 1,400 users.
Today Sage has around 2,700 customers representing 150,000 users worldwide running X3, but by its own admission the strongest base is in France, since the product came to Sage via the acquisition of French firm Adonix.
Yet Sage wants to change all that and make the product stronger in all of its other geographies. It may have only 21 X3 customers in the UK to date, but now Sage has created an international team to support the development of the X3 business. That team includes international pre-sales and professional services, training, global R&D and global marketing and communications.
It’s the first time Sage has really had a global ERP offering, though it’s clear that it’s not giving up on its locally-focused operations either: “Our local knowledge sets us apart and combined with our global strength is a key differentiator,” said Paul Walker, chief executive of The Sage Group.
Lynn, meanwhile, said that one of its differentiators for X3 compared to the competition is ease of installation. “Because it sits on a platform, which we call Safe X3, it’s very configurable and very easy to upgrade,” he said. “We say the ratio of the cost of software licenses to services is about one to one; with some rival ERPs like SAP you are usually talking a ratio of one to three.”
The Safe X3 platform also now offers support for the open source Eclipse development environment.
According to Christophe Letellier, GM, Sage ERP X3 Worldwide, “Its innovative, role-based web user interface allows customers to personalise the system to their requirements and enhances their overall experience. The solution makes manipulating complex and critical information easy and displays it exactly how the user wants thus improving interoperability across a business.”
Sage said that it’s also expanded a partnership with Logica to better support multi-country ERP projects, while it worked with Microsoft, Oracle and Netvibes to develop its global ERP software.
CBR collared chief executive Paul Walker at the launch to ask whether the firm, which has plenty of cash in the bank, will look aggressively at acquisitions in 2010 to further build out its portfolio. “My gut feel is that we probably won’t do much this fiscal – our financial year-ends in September – but we’ll probably pick things up after that,” he said. “We don’t see many good opportunities in the market today.”