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Sage Enterprise Africa

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Sage is one of the biggest names in business management spoke to software. Keith Fenner, Vice President of Sage Enterprise Africa and Middle East, about the company’s worldwide strategic overhaul and the strategies taking them into a new period of growth.

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Parity Software, Sage X3 Business Solution Experts With over 34 years’ experience in Enterprise Business Management Solutions, Parity Software is a top performing Sage X3 Platinum Partner We have a large and highly skilled team of over 90 Sage certified professionals including consultants & developers and provide services in the following regions: -

Africa (Southern Africa, Central Africa) Middle East (Saudi Arabia, UAE) Australasia (Australia, Singapore, Thailand)

Parity completed over 20 Sage “go-lives” in 2016. We are the partner of choice for Sage X3, Sage X3 People and Sage CRM

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Reduce Costs, Improve Efficiency and Increase Profitability. Contact us now! Assisting Businesses Operate Simpler, Faster and more Flexible For Sage X3, Sage X3 People and Sage CRM Implementation, Consulting, Software Development, Integrations, Training and Support Industry solutions for Manufacturing, Retail, Distribution, Finance & Insurance, Transport & Logistics, Government, Non-Government, Hospitality, Mining, Warehousing and Construction

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t Sage, times are changing. CEO Stephen Kelly has promised to “shed the shackles of conservatism” and overhaul the company to compete in the ever-changing tech markets. The latest effort involves a string of mobile

accounting apps to let business owners run their books from tablets and mobile devices, a move away from the company’s traditional boxed software releases. Keith Fenner, Vice President of Sage Enterprise Africa and Middle East, is confident about the new regime and its potential impact.

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“When Stephen came in, he arrived with a broader outlook: ‘Listen, we need to become ‘One Sage’, therefore we need to put some money on different horses for our overall product strategy with a cloud first philosophy.’ Our previous strategy was to have a few leading products dominating local markets. However, we’re

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“CEO Stephen Kelly has promised to “shed the shackles of conservatism” and overhaul the company to compete in the ever-changing tech markets

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Good to Great: Mucheki Consulting Humble Beginnings to SAGE PLATINUM RESELLER Established in 2012, Mucheki Consulting has a long standing and fruitful certified business partnership with Sage Enterprise, characterised by successful implementations across the length and breadth of the African continent and a host of new customers. Based in South Africa with presence in Zimbabwe and Kenya, Mucheki Consulting is a trusted provider of customdesigned, end-to-end enterprise resource planning solutions. Mucheki believes the emerging ICT market is in Africa thus focus is on the African market. A recent growth trend in local support for the market-leading product has meant that a sustainable, confident market for Sage X3 is steadily developing and promising to hit the top. Starting as a one man band Mucheki Consulting, is now the only Sage Enterprise Platinum certified partner in Southern, Central and East Africa, attributing this achievement to unwavering work ethic, quality service delivery and patience of Mucheki Sage certified team, as well as continued belief in Sage X3 as the business solution of choice for mid-sized to large businesses and institutions in Africa. The prime focus as a business solutions provider is not only software but the provision of practical solutions to real business problems. Mucheki Consulting is under the leadership of Engineer Churchward Mucheki CPIM, CSCP, an APICS certified professional with over 20 years’ experience in the implementation of Enterprise Business systems. Churchward is regarded the leading Sage X3 expert on the African continent. Mucheki Consulting is set to play as contributors towards making African companies globally competitive through structured business intelligence that will improve product and service delivery. In addition to the many benefits of Sage X3, Mucheki Consulting underlines an emphasis on creating a good and long lasting relationship with all its customers. Mucheki Consulting fosters a commitment to transferring as much knowledge as possible to customers and follow an implementation methodology that encourages customer participation and a sense of ownership for the project. Already having successfully signed off Sage X3 in 16 African countries for Alliance Media, one of our key customers, Mucheki is geared to take the ICT industry to greater heights with more than 30 customer sites in Africa and Europe and a preferred partner for one of the big five consulting firms in South Africa.

Testimonial Mucheki Consulting successfully implemented Sage X3, Sage CRM and the Workflow system for Alliance Media. The solution has been deployed in all our African operations covering 16 countries. Mucheki Consulting work was very professional and of high standard – Peter Magora (Group Commercial Manager)”.

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trying to be ahead of the curve in every market in which we operate. For example, we are now developing a world-class industry leading cloud strategy. We are thrilled to announce that we are now fully cloud ready, scaling from start-up, and scaleup to Enterprise segments.”

“When Stephen came in, he arrived with a broader outlook: ‘Listen, we need to become ‘One Sage’, therefore we need to put some money on different horses for our overall product strategy with a cloud first philosophy Cloud focus

Cloud computing in Africa has always been a contentious subject. While there’s certainly the capital and huge potential benefits for African businesses in cloud adoption, there’s also a lack of interest, and the onthe-ground reality of limited connectivity and bandwidth holding the technology back. According to Fenner, however, these are increasingly problems

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“While there’s certainly the capital and huge potential benefits for African businesses in cloud adoption, there’s also a lack of interest, and the on-the-ground reality of limited connectivity and bandwidth holding the technology back

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of the past, and indeed his organisation has already begun preparing around them. “We’re seeing a huge shift towards cloud in Africa and Sage is well positioned for this, because the product’s already completely web and mobile capable. It’s a testament to our tech strategy and compliance with the third platform. That

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strategy is driving us into some new market areas; historically there are not many ERP players in the African market because of the high cost to entry, whereas we’ve been here for over 25 years. All we need to do is release the right product, at the right time, to enable us to win in the market and provide a platform to support our customers for life”.

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SynergERP The key to a successful ERP implementation is quite simple. Upgrading your current enterprise software or migrating to a new system can be a nightmarish rollercoaster ride that goes on for way too long. Before long, you have fired your integration partner and bought a beach bar in Fiji whilst recovering from mental breakdown number four. But it doesn’t have to be so dire. At SynergERP, we understand the major (and minor) pitfalls of a new or upgraded system. That’s why we have developed our signature Plus One system. It’s simple; We ask our clients to tell us what the one mission-critical thing is that will make their enterprise resource planning life easier today and work systematically from there.

Sage’s new business model operates in a two-pronged approach to revolutionise business. The first is aimed at what Fenner calls “true enterprise customers”, who will be running the software with hundreds of users and typically across multiple regions and countries. This segment has seen some interesting developments over a timescale as short as the last six months, with many more customers simply asking for cloud-based platforms and forgoing the additional infrastructure headache. “We used to have larger businesses who would just buy the kit, put in the infrastructure

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“IT teams have essentially become less technical. It’s less about fixing broken printers and more about developing new strategies around ‘how can I deliver the growth this company requires at the cost model they require it to happen at’

Ashley Regenass, CEO of SynergERP explains: “The rigid project plan is outdated and inefficient. With our client’s long-term goals in mind coupled with agile project planning, we improve their systems one functionality at a time. This gives us the flexibility to prove that the functionality works and that it will make a positive impact on their bottom line.” Established in 1993, Synergy, a Sage Platinum Partner, has been implementing the Sage ERP range of enterprise resource planning software for more than two decades. From manufacturing to mining, two users to 1 000 users, it has established itself as one of Sage’s leading partners with vast experience in rolling out successful projects for various industries.

www.synergerp.co.za


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and pay for an IT team – but that’s changed now. It’s partly because big CAPEX investment is tough in this climate, so OPEX models have become more attractive. It’s also to do with retaining staff – especially in South Africa, where we’ve got a resource drain into Europe and Australia – but more importantly we’re seeing IT departments becoming service centres responsible for delivering new business strategies. IT teams have essentially become less technical. It’s less about fixing broken printers and more about developing new strategies around ‘how can I deliver the growth this company requires at

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the cost model they require it to happen at’. They don’t want to worry about the kit, they want to worry about delivering value back into the business.” This trend speaks to the general improvement in computer literacy across the African market, but also mirrors developments in other regions, including Sage’s native UK. With more and more employees able to fix their own printers, (or Google the problem for the same result) dedicated IT departments are going from trouble shooters to efficiency multipliers. This is already reflected in Sage’s strategy for customer support, not

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to mention its efforts to acquire new customers, a field in which Fenner is confident about. “I think we’re very strong with new customer acquisition as well. Our approach is to hand the keys to the castle to our customers: we want them to own and maintain their own products moving forward, giving them the capacity to grow. Other vendors tend to keep teams on site permanently, which drives up the total cost of ownership, and that’s not our strategy. We keep our consulting rates at a midmarket level for all our customers, whether enterprise or not – that is the Sage way.”


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Datacentrix

“Our approach is to hand the keys to the castle to our customers: we want them to own and maintain their own products moving forward, giving them the capacity to grow Why the cloud?

Although the company has traditionally built software that works offline on premise, and cloud-based software might seem like a poor choice in the face of the endemic connection issues found in many African countries, Fenner believes that looking to the past risks leaving a tech company fundamentally unsuited to the future. “To take a step back, the way X3 is built is probably the most fundamental point of the strategy. If you look at what’s driving ERP business today, you’ll see billions of dollars going into SMAC – Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. These new platforms are really hard to get into if your business management software

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Kieth Fenner, Sage

The Group offers a deeply specialised skills component and is endorsed by the world’s foremost technology partners. Our advanced, flexible solution design and implementation responds to our customers’ unique business requirements, helping to drive their performance and growth sustainably. Our delivery and execution capability ensure an excellent total customer experience:

isn’t optimised for this new way of working. If you haven’t got the technology ready now, you won’t be in a position to expand with your customers and help them unlock the benefits down the line. Four years ago Sage was already designing our new UIs for these problems, so we’ve already been through the teething issues. We’ve delivered a system that works on any browser, any device (as long as it’s a major supported one) – a system that’s platform independent.” Sage’s new platform is also heavily designed to work with new analytics systems. Analytics data is the most exciting of the SMAC technologies, with the potential for what Fenner calls “a fourth industrial revolution,

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the internet of things”. He suggests that even traditional manufacturing can be optimised like software, sensors across the plant feeding data into centralised analytics hubs, which can then be used to modify the manufacturing process for greater efficiency, making full use of the new technology and infrastructure developments, allowing Africa to become better connected. Sage looks set to be very involved when it comes to this buzzword of the moment.

Keeping up with the industry

Part of the reason for Sage’s new global strategy is the rapidly changing nature of both the industry and its user base, each driving the other. Extensive mobile development was perhaps the least predicted aspect of the current tide of change in the industry, with its accompanying decentralisation of the office space. Fenner talks about the challenges of developing for mobile:

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“When developing for mobile we took a step back and looked at what our customers really want, all over the world in all the different markets. They want to work online and offline and to build apps using a toolset residing in the ERP solution. We have delivered exactly that, with a core set of mobile applications and then given the toolkit to our customers and our partners. This enables them to build any apps that they want and deploy them any time that they want, online and offline. That’s a huge bonus

“Analytics data is the most exciting of the SMAC technologies, with the potential for what Fenner calls “a fourth industrial revolution, the internet of things moving forward because then you’re not buying apps that are custom written, which causes challenges when the software gets upgraded because the apps also need to be upgraded. With Sage X3 embedding mobility in the single web platform, it self-upgrades.” However, convenience isn’t as simple as upgrading some

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Multisoft Solutions ...(Previously known as SCG Consulting) was established in 2002 as an accounting services firm. In 2002, the firm secured a dealership license from Softline Pastel to sell, implement and support the Sage Pastel range C

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if you put them in a green screen mainframe with function key shortcuts and multiple keystrokes to do something, you’ll quickly lose your talent as that is not the way a millennial works. They believe in touch, mobile and collaboration and they only understand these new ways of working. The real digital natives – they want to work in that way. We designed the architecture of the X3 platform with that in mind, as retaining talent is essential in the competitive marketplace of Africa.” infrastructure and creating connections. Mr Fenner’s experience of the technology sector, particularly in the African markets, is one where the people are changing as fast as the machines, if not faster. “Now if you’ve ever employed someone born after 1992, you’ll realise that

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A second strategy and traditional markets

While the enterprise-focused version of Sage allows full customisation, development and integration, not all customers are looking for such a powerful and versatile system. For many, the sheer customisability of Sage X3

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is essentially unnecessary. For these firms priorities are different, and the second prong of Sage’s business strategy caters to them. “The traditional market is for products between 20 and 50 users, where they probably have a product that they’ve invested in and haven’t changed in the last 5-10 years. They’re probably recruiting millennials and need to make their business competitive

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and provide a platform the new staff can use. They want all this in the cloud at a low cost and with a contained scope – ERP implementation can spin out of control, and no business can afford that. They want fixedscope implementation, and we offer that with X3 Fast Start.” Cost overruns and scope creep are familiar to any business that has embarked on an

“They want to work online and offline and to build apps using a toolset residing in the ERP solution. We have delivered exactly that, with a core set of mobile applications and then given the toolkit to our customers and our partners

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“Cost overruns and scope creep are familiar to any business that has embarked on an ERP project, and many of the true mid-market customers can’t afford the high prices or lack of control that comes with a customised solution

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ERP project, and many of the true mid-market customers can’t afford the high prices or lack of control that comes with a customised solution. Sage X3 Fast Start is a template-led version of the full X3 solution, not a downgrade. As Fenner says, it is essentially the same software, but designed to be rapidly implemented to save on time and installation costs, without the full customisation scope. The product is designed to be deliverable over 20 days, with all its core modules delivered in the cloud, and is pre-configured to the customer’s business environment. Customisation isn’t impossible but is reserved for the end of the project. Indeed Sage’s pricing model has allowed for customer-focused modifications – which is


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almost always used after the initial go-live. The design is intended to provide customers flexibility and the option to customise without compromising the fixed scope of the project, to ensure overruns aren’t an issue. It’s a strategy that seems to have paid off.

customers, we give them an attractive migration option. We manage this using their OPEX budgets and give them a bulletproof Business Management Solution and technology platform for the future, to last well beyond five to ten years.”

“If you look at Sage’s penetration into the mid- and enterprise market place in Africa, it’s become massive in a very short space of time. However, we increasingly see new vendors coming to occupy this space. As a result, what we need to do is to make sure we have a solid customer-for-life strategy, so when we detect these

Piracy is a problem faced by every software company, and some consider it as almost inevitable. In Africa, digital piracy is quite common, as the costs of buying software are often prohibitive and enforcement weak. Failure to adjust its prices to an African market can often see a business losing much of its revenue.

A question of piracy

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Fenner is relatively relaxed about pirated versions of his company’s software, however. “If we look out there in Africa today, we’d probably find a lot of Sage products which are unlicensed and not paying maintenance. That’s not pirated software, that’s software that’s not on the latest version and is a major concern. There’s a huge potential with those customers to bring them into the fold of our Customer for Life strategy that would include upselling and cross selling from our portfolio of products per market segment. Have we got unlicensed, unpurchased software in Africa? I’m sure we have.

“If you look at Sage’s penetration into the mid- and enterprise market place in Africa, it’s become massive in a very short space of time

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However, as we engage customers and demonstrate value to their business, we will bring them back.” The hope is that that some of these unlicensed users will eventually end up purchasing and licensing the software due to the benefits of the cloud, or to take advantage of actual support now that their business

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has grown to the point where the software is affordable. “That said, I think there were two things in Africa that were holding back growth in the IT industry – the concept of security and last-mile connectivity. The security side of it is becoming less of an issue thanks to the cloud and last mile connectivity is prevalent across the continent in major hubs.”

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“Piracy is a problem faced by every software company, and some consider it as almost inevitable. In Africa, digital piracy is quite common, as the costs of buying software are often prohibitive and enforcement weak


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Thriving in adversity

It’s safe to assume that the nature of Sage’s business, both in terms of its multinational reach and position in the market, protects it from many of the macro challenges of operating in African economies. The challenges of commodity prices, political instability and currency devaluations doesn’t

mean that it simply rides out the downturns. It strategically prepares for them. “Let’s take the oil crisis,” says Fenner. “When it hit we did not cut back. Instead, we went and sold to many oil companies in a very short space of time. Every cloud has a silver lining for us, and because we span the market from bottom to top, we pick up the growing customers because they’re still covered by our Customer for Life strategy. In

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such a crisis, some companies won’t buy, but bigger ones will probably want to save costs and those are the ones we pick up and sell to as they move to a Tier 2 strategy, either replacing Tier 1 ERP or complementing it – like we did with Aramco.” Sage’s flexibility as a business means that it can easily respond to the many opportunities across the continent, but that’s not the only secret to its success. Although headquartered in the UK, it has been careful to establish a local presence and works to gain trust based on actions rather than reputation.

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(t) +27 (0)87 820 2030 | (e) info@consiliatechnology.com | www.consiliatechnology.com Source: Forrester's 2016 "Total Economic Impact" study


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“We’ve been here for 25 years and we understand Africa. Not just that, but with our offices in Lagos, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Cape Town and established partners all over the continent, we’ve got a trust factor. Everyone knows who Sage is, we’ve been here for so long. In addition, we have the Sage French and Portuguese teams, with export divisions that service French and Portuguese-speaking Africa, breaking the language barrier. So if you add up the power of the actual Sage businesses in Africa, it’s absolutely vast, and that’s what I believe we’re capitalising on now, as well as the fact that we’re literally delivering an enterprise product with a technology stack, and a cloud first strategy that is second to none.”

A bright outlook

“Sage’s focus in 2017 is the execution of its cloud strategy,” Fenner continues. “Sage X3 is delivered cloud first but the on premise and cloud versions are the same – we have not split the products as the technology allows us to offer monthly updates in the Cloud and deliver these to our on premise and Enterprise cloud customers once or twice a year to minimise upgrade disruption. And what I’ve described to you is exactly how we’re going to do that in Africa. We’ve got 70-odd partners, still selling the same product but it’s spun up in the cloud. They still consult the same way, and we’ve retrained them on how to deliver the product in the Cloud and transition themselves to a Partner of the Future.”

E n t e r p r i s e

A f r i c a

Sage is also now working with Amazon Web Services, which boasts incredible processing power (NASA have chosen to use its services), and a couple of smaller local services offering better connectivity across Africa. 4G networks are also in place too – many African countries jumped the whole fixed line straight to 4G. The mobility aspect is vital to Sage because it represents the way people are working today. Fenner concludes on a positive note, with the new year looking promising: “I’m confident in the work we’ve done in the last four years in cloud development, and you can see that we grew by 74% last year, so we’re outperforming the market, gaining share and looking at high double-digit growth in the next five years.”

Follow us: @SageGroupZA @SageSouthAfrica Sage SageGroupZA

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ICT

iLink_04.pdf 1 12/01/2017 10:35:32

iLink … with over 20 years of consulting experience on Sage 300 and Sage 300 vertical market solutions. Founded by Hemant Bhagwan in 2004, iLink is an accredited Sage 300 Business Partner From its inception, it gained membership to the Proudly South African initiative and remains committed to growth in Africa. Service delivery in Africa is expedited by the productive working relationships which iLink has fostered with local business partners in each country. If you’re looking to grow your business by partnering with a company that is passionate about you and your people look no further than iLink - Driving Growth through Customer Centricity.

www.antwan.co.za

BINARY_SYSTEMS.pdf 1 10/01/2017 14:01:48

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SAGE 300 Providing implementa�on services, as well as support services for exis�ng implementa�ons. Currently offering consul�ng and technical support to over 30 sa�sfied clients across Africa.

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Antwan cc, trading as iLink, focuses on Driving Growth through Customer Centricity. A Proudly South African company that specialises in the sale and implementa�on of Sage 300 and Sage 300 related products.

Binary Systems Limited, Luso House Kapeni Road, P. O. Box 5504 ,Limbe Blantyre, Malawi +265 111 948 224 +265 888 825 749 info@binarysystemsltdmw.com mctimes@binarysystemsltdmw.com

Engaging only experienced Consultants who are Sage 300 cer�fied, having passed the stringent examina�ons as set forth by Sage. This guarantees a mature knowledge base and a wide range of skills that have been honed in diverse industries across Africa

info@antwan.co.za +27 82 45 25 798 www.antwan.co.za

35

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