Duane over at Kashflow pulled the old ‘conference spying’ trick and reckons that Sage is preparing to launch SageLive, an on-demand offering possibly as early as January 8rh, 2009. If it does, then as Ben Kepes at CloudAve says:
We’ve been waiting for a really compelling on-demand accounting offering from one of the big boys…
Sage is the gorilla in the room in the UK market, until now they’re been silent about their SaaS intentions. Until now…
Duane reckons that he’s been fed the line that Sage has been developing a cloud based solution for 18 months. If so then what’s taking them so long? He also expresses surprise that Sage has done the development in house. If true that doesn’t surprise me because 18 months ago (again if true), there was nothing much around that Sage could usefully acquire, except perhaps for a bunch of programmers working on cloud computing initiatives.
Duane gives Sage credits for:
There seems to be some neat integration with Google Apps and GMail. As you’d expect there is integration with Sage-owned payment processor ProTX as well as PayPal. I wonder if they’ll knock us off our perch as the only accounting software in the world that has Certified Integration status with PayPal.
but disses them down for their approach to the product noting that:
One of the first things I try with a new accounting product is to create an invoice. I couldn’t quickly work out how to with SageLive - it’s definitely lacking the intuitiveness of KashFlow and other web-based apps. It suffers from the same problem as all of Sages products – it’s obviously designed by people that have never run a small business. It looks really good and it sounds really good, but a scratch of the surface shows it simply doesn’t deliver the goods.
I’d expect Duane and other competitors to adopt this position but then it doesn’t surprise me. The biggest problem for incumbent software developers is their past success. They assume that what went before will carry them into the future. SAP has gotten closer than anyone else with Business ByDesign but even they fell into some self made traps. Today, ByDesign is stalled and at risk of never fulfilling its potential.
Well- what is going on at Sage Towers? I don’t know but intend finding out. I agree with Duane that:
But there are the usual problems with Sage software as mentioned above. Plus there is a lot of anti-Sage sentiment out there from small business owners (who have wasted time and money on unsuitable software) and accountants (who see Sage as a bit of a bully). All things considered, I think it can only be a good thing for us at KashFlow and the emerging SaaS industry as a whole. It shows that Sage accept that there is unsuppressable demand from business owners for web-based accounting software. Every penny they spend on marketing their new baby will help to raise the profile of all SaaS offerings.
Regardless of Sage’s marketing muscle, it has a perceptual mountain to overcome as the company that likes to give less and cling on to its walled garden approach to everything it does.
UPDATE: Sage says it will brief me soon on the story.