An interview with our Sales Director on Sage Summit

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We interviewed our Sales Director, Greg Hackney, on his return to the UK after attending the Sage Summit event.

Sage Summit is the annual event for all customers using Sage products globally; along with Sage partners and many from Sage themselves. The event brings together thousands of people from the wider global Sage Community. Sage Summit is open to all customers to attend and is usually held in North America during the summer.

Welcome back to the UK Greg, how’s the jetlag?

“Thank you. Well, jetlag isn’t too bad if you can sleep on the plane – it’s manageable these days at least and my bodyclock is working it out. It’s a small price to pay to attend this phenomenal event, Sage Summit, which this year was held in the Big Easy; exciting New Orleans, Louisiana.”

Why does Inixion attend Sage Summit regularly?

“Sometimes incorrectly perceived as just a North American event, Sage Summit is really the only opportunity to meet so many people from the Sage community in one place – and really gain from the networking, the interaction and the contacts made. We go because of this – and we aren’t the only ones to make the journey across the pond as some Inixion customers attend along with colleagues from both Sage UK and Europe and other UK Sage X3 partners.”

So it’s a business conference, just for the ‘Sage-world’?

“This year over 8000 people were at Summit which was held over 4 days at a fantastic venue in New Orleans; but it’s more than just a conference. Yes, there were conference key notes and many breakout sessions but also opportunities to meet experts, to take short tuition courses, see both new software versions and insights into what the developers are working on. Plus a dedicated exhibition for many Sage products and supplementary products from around the world which was as big as many cross-vendor exhibitions we see in the UK or Europe. Additionally the informal buffet breakfasts and lunches with everyone together and evening events gave attendees the opportunity to relax, network and see a little of New Orleans. It truly is amazing how informal conversations around the coffee station – yes, tea was available – can lead to new contacts and business relationships. This, specifically, has been my experience of attending these events for over 20 years and really why I go!”

Many from the UK will know of New Orleans from the Katrina hurricane; what was the city like?

“It was my first thought also after hearing the event was being held in New Orleans – but what we sometimes forget is that Katrina was over 10 years ago so immediate affects are not so noticeable, if at all. The people are still lovely – welcoming, friendly and fun! There���s a sadness that will take many years to recover from for sure, over 1400 people lost their lives when 80% of the city was flooded. I was told that now more than half of the city’s neighbourhoods have recovered some 90 percent of their pre-storm population.”

And the jazz, the French Quarter?

“Oh yes! New Orleans still has plenty to offer being the birthplace of jazz, the cradle of rhythm and blues, funk and many other forms of music and culture. Music is everywhere in New Orleans.”

What were the highlights of Sage Summit 2015?

“You mean besides the nightlife of Bourbon Street in the French Quarter and warm beignets at Café du Mond?!

The first conference keynote was really not what anyone could have imagined from a software conference: Sage CEO Stephen Kelly in conversation on stage with General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), and Deepak Chopra. Both guests brought a fascinating insight into our world from theirs with General Powell being a former US Secretary of State for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005 and the first African American to serve in that position. Deepak Chopra, an Indian-born American author and public speaker, is an alternative medicine advocate and a promoter of popular forms of spirituality, who has been described by the New York Times as a “controversial New-Age guru”.
This was followed by a video link discussion between Sage CEO Stephen Kelly and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff; and a separate video message from the Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Reflecting the international flavour of the conference, other conference keynotes included participation by, amongst many others, Baroness Karren Brady CBE; current Vice-Chairman of West Ham United F.C. She is of course known to us in the UK from the BBC One series The Apprentice as an aide to Lord Sugar and is also the Small Business Ambassador to the UK Government.
Then the breakout sessions – literally hundreds to choose from – on every conceivable subject, offering insight, learning and collaboration.”

Could you summarise what the key take-ways were from this year’s Sage Summit?

“There can be no doubt, from anyone attending this year’s Sage Summit, that Sage is changing with an unstoppable energy and vibrancy. This wasn’t just conference ‘rah-rah’; Sage is dusting out all the corners of their global store and ensuring they have the products and approach to be useful and relevant to businesses of all sizes as the ‘digital age’ gathers momentum.
No one can be blind to the fact that the way we interact with each other through email and social media along with virtually instant global communication is having an effect on all our businesses. We’d be worried if Sage hadn’t noticed – and they haven’t. The theme of this year’s Summit event was ‘Imagine NOW’ and that’s precisely it. Everything we hear in the media of ‘cloud’, ‘big data’ and ‘mobile access’ is being addressed by Sage and reflected in the latest generation of their products – the latest version of Sage X3 is at the forefront of this.”

You mentioned Sage X3. Was there anything specific from Summit that will be of interest to Inixion customers?

“Without doubt. Perhaps not immediately obvious, but the change in name – from Sage ERP X3 to Sage X3 is significant and no one should write this off as just a rebrand. Sage has removed the outdated term of ‘ERP’ but are also ensuring the focus for Sage X3 is as a Business Management System. This is fantastic news for Inixion as this is precisely how we have always positioned Sage X3 – as the ‘hub’ of a business; providing that ‘one version of the truth’; or, to give it its more modern title, the big data.
The launch at Sage Summit of ‘Update 8’ for Sage X3 heralds both the new era of how this product will be released in future – with the promise of a new update, delivering new functionality, every 6-8 months; Sage ensuring their flagship product is fresh and relevant. We look forward to introducing the detail of Sage X3 Update 8, and the upgrade path, to all Inixion customers very soon.”

The other announcement from Sage Summit was the launch of Sage X3 Cloud. What did you learn about this?

“In fact Sage X3 Cloud was not the only ‘cloud’ announcement with the launch also of Sage Live, a product aimed at start-up enterprises.
That said, it was inevitable that Sage would ‘cloud enable’ Sage X3 as they have with other products from their portfolio. Sage X3 Cloud, not yet released in the UK or Europe but coming soon, is no different a product to the ‘on premise’ version. In fact, there is no specific ‘version’ of Sage X3 for the cloud – this is just an evolution to how Sage X3 can be deployed and licenced. Sage X3 will be available for ‘on premise’ installation or through a ‘private’ cloud deployment. Inixion offers both of these options now and, once released by Sage, we will also offer a ‘public’ cloud option; a shared installation essentially. We look forward to discussing all the deployment options with both current and prospective customers.”

And Sage Summit 2016?

“Yes, Sage Summit is to be held again next year and, as I write, Inixion is planning to attend. Sage Summit 2016 is in Chicago, Illinois – great for us in the UK as there are more options with direct flights. On the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States, Chicago has lots to offer visitors and we’re looking forward to it!”

If any of our customers, visitors to or readers of this blog are interested in being in Chicago 25-28 July 2016 for Sage Summit 2016, please pop a note to us here and we’ll keep you up to date with information as it becomes available.