Sage joins the Cloud – but keeps one foot on the ground!

So Sage has joined the Cloud with the launch of their new attempt at a cloud product – Sage One. Lets not be cynical here and repeat an earlier comment – if you can’t beat them etc – and congratulate them on recognising that the Cloud is here to stay and that Sage, as the leading SME accounting software provider, must be part of it to remain credible.

Having said that however, I am curious as to what exactly their thinking is behind this. I find it interesting, for example, that an accounting practice needs to be a member of their Accountants Club to gain access to the administrators module. This presupposes that the accountant will have the on premise version and that, therefore, Sage One is not meant to be a replacement for Online 50 but an add on to improve communication with the client etc.

Fair enough as it stands but it would seem to be a somewhat half hearted approach. Also, the functionality and reporting is somewhat limited (to be fair, Sage have announced that enhancements will be forthcoming) but there are so many well developed and sophisticated offerings in the market place, what is the point of releasing something substandard unless it is meant as a spoiler for everyone else.

I wonder as well at what market place they are aiming. Are they intending to hit the Xero and KashFlow base Рif so they will have an uphill struggle. And then, of course, there is the next level occupied by E-conomic and  Twinfield whose competition is as yet uncertain as they sit in what I call the sub enterprise level.

So it will be interesting to see what develops. I will put aside my cynism for now and welcome them to the club.

2011 Longterm forecast – Cloud

Happy New Year. I trust the struggle back to work has not been too painful and that you feel invigorated after the long break to face new challenges in the year ahead. I wrote in one of my last posts of 2010 that this year would be the year that the Cloud really gains traction and as we are now 10 days into it I am even more convinced that my forecast will hold true.

A number of  meetings this year in my role as E-conomic UK Advisory Board Chairman has enforced my views even more. A number of unsolicited enquiries and requests for online demos of the system have been followed by a very productive meeting with a top twenty firm of accountants who have already made the decision to go Cloud for both their nationwide outsourcing services and franchise operations. They are now looking at a number of Cloud offerings to decide which one to adopt.

The significance of this, of course, is not only have they made the decision that the Cloud is the way to go but that they now have a choice of online systems to go for. How different from a few short years ago when the argument was always should we go cloud Рnot which system do we adopt. And this is where  traction will occur. The major firms are coming on board and as a result will gain new business as a consequence of being in the forefront of new technology Рthose in the small to medium sector, the vast majority, will have to follow suit or loose out. Clients are demanding a more cost efficient service, and more importantly Рservice efficiency, and like water finding its own level, clients will migrate to those firms that are prepared to go that one step further in their service delivery.

2011 will also bring the launch of another attempt by Sage to produce a Cloud version of their antiquated software. They will probably fail if they dont offer both a realistic price structure and an application that is suitable for the second decade of the 21st Century, but the fact that they have adopted a “if you can’t beat them….” approach will add further impetus.

Of course there will still be the laggards – a recent discussion thread on one of the well known forums was entitled “What is Cloud computing”. This is rather like someone asking “What is the Internet”, but thankfully this is a dying trend. The discussion now will be around the merits or otherwise of the many and various offerings that are available.

So the forecast is Cloud and getting Cloudier (unless someone decides to call it something else!)