A little over four weeks ago I twisted my ankle in a supermarket parking lot and managed to cause a hairline fracture of one of the small bones in my left foot. It’s healing, but not as quickly as I want. Of course I am the type who says “Lord, give me patience, but give it to me RIGHT NOW!”, so nothing ever heals fast enough for me. As a result of my mishap, my personal mobility has been restricted, and I am spending more time than ever in a seated position. With my mobility curtailed I seem to spend more time thinking about what it means to be mobile. And that turns me to thoughts about how Sage customers want to use applications in this very mobile world.
At Sage Summit 2012 in Nashville, TN last August, we introduced a video that showed a day in the life of a Sage customer. It’s apparent to everyone these days that a typical workday is no longer just a 9-5 stint sitting in an office somewhere. I know I can’t live without my smart phone, and am rapidly becoming dependent on my iPad because my laptop seems so heavy in comparison. Most of my work day is still spent in an office, so if mobility is a necessity to me, how much more do sales and service personnel need tools to improve their work life when not chained to a desk?
We’ve got a team folks working on the answer to that question right now in Sage ERP development. Based on the feedback we received from customers at Sage Summit and countless other one-on-one customer interviews, we’re developing two new mobile applications along with a companion integrated service that will be accessed via the web. The mobile service application will assist employees of service-based businesses such as pest control services track fees for those services and collect payment on-site directly from the customer. The mobile sales application will facilitate order entry for companies that bring and sell goods to customers rather than having customers come to them. And the companion web service will provide the account billing and payment for the two mobile applications in cases where services or goods are provided to customers ‘on account’ instead of via credit card at the time of sale.
What’s different about the plan for these applications is, well, pretty much everything. They are being designed and deployed in very rapid cycles, nothing like the traditional 12-18 month cycles of ERP product development. They will be services that have a different customer deployment method than ERP uses, so part of the planning to roll out these services includes determining how to bill customers for the services, how to ensure customers are entitled to use the service, and how the services get terminated if customers fail to pay.
This brings much change to the development teams in Irvine and Richmond, and a flurry of excitement that I haven’t really seen since we first started developing Windows applications. Just like then, there has been a major shift in the software industry. One could argue that we’re a little late to the table in making these changes; but we weren’t the first company to develop ERP and accounting software in Windows either. That just means we need to ensure these new products delight customers and solve their business challenges so customers will continue to look to Sage to help them solve those challenges. And these applications are just the first ones to take root in the Sage family; we’ve got lots more in the works for the future.
Would you be interested in being one of the customers that the Sage staff talks with about business challenges to help us refine the plans for those future applications? We are specifically looking for conversations with “C” level executives; business owners, CEOs, CFOs; and those who are responsible for the growth of their company’s bottom line. If your company uses one or more Sage product and you have an interest in spending an hour or so with our team to discuss business ideas, either in person or on the telephone, please contact me.
On to the adventure,