One year after announcing major rebranding plans for all of its products, Sage North America executives are now touting innovation -- particularly around cloud and mobile offerings -- all while still recognizing some partner discontent.

During his opening keynote address to thousands of partners at its Sage Summit event, Sage North America president Pascal Houillon admitted that the past year has been “challenging” for many of its partners, but felt that he has a strong vision for the company’s and the brand’s future.

“Last year, some of you didn’t react too well to some of our vision. I lit a fire, but with fire a whole new cycle of life begins,” said Houillon. “Some said I didn’t respect the long-term relationship with our partners, and I admit it was tough love and we do love you. We will be successful because of you, but the business is changing and we can’t go backwards.”

Houillon and newly appointed chief technology officer Himanshu Palsule stressed that while product rebranding will be ongoing, the company is innovating and bringing partners and customers products for the future. Specifically, they focused on the Software-as-a-Service-based entry-level  accounting product SageOne, as well as mobile applications such as the Sage Mobile Sales app, which is designed to integrate with Sage ERP products, including 50, 100, 300, 500 and X3.

SageOne was formally launched back in May while the company unveiled and demoed the Sage Mobile Sales app, a mobile product designed to integrate with and extract data from its ERP product line.

In addition, development on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform is under way for the company’s ERP products, notably Sage 300 ERP (formerly Sage ERP Accpac).  Sage 300 ERP 2012 will ship this quarter and will include enhanced usability features, such as Sage Advisor and Visual Processes, as well as connected services for mobile access to the ERP system.

Also, the next generation of Sage ERP X3 will be a fully Web-enabled ERP platform for mid-market businesses that will offer an enhanced user interface, data processing and data storage models.

“Customers want consistency and we must innovate quickly, but be deliberate in our choices. I think SageOne in particular should give an idea of our direction of travel,” said Palsule. “Two years ago, we talked about choice and flexibility [in our product offerings]. With investments in mobility and cloud we will be delivering on that promise. Our innovations will be around cloud and mobile, primarily.”

There was some skepticism heard among partners during the keynote address, which was mixed with some positivity that Sage was indeed innovating with its products. Houillon recognized some of the partner reservations and urged patience, stating, “It may be a bumpy road ahead, but the road to success is always under construction. We hope you will take the journey with us

This story first appeared on the Accounting Today web site.

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