Sage Connected Services: Cloud Now for Premise ERP

Sage has put great energy into the launch of its Connected Services strategy that blends cloud-delivered services with its other offerings. Does this mean that in-house, server-based software from Sage is about to disappear? Hardly. Sage calls it “Connected Services,” not “replacement services.” They know that while the case for using services provided beyond the firewall is clear for many applications, on-site software remains an important part of the mix. Connected Services are intended to provide benefits precisely by combining multiple resources, including the best of software and the best of cloud-based services, to deliver more useful and cost-effective solutions for businesses.

“Businesses are renewing their investments in areas that impact the fundamentals, like driving efficiency, improving cash flow, and attracting new customers. At the same time, while some businesses are moving up to entirely new systems to gain these benefits, the majority want to protect their investment in the systems on which they’ve built their businesses, such as accounting or practice management,” said Himanshu Palsule, EVP Strategy with Sage North America in a recent press release. “By providing businesses with the choice of business applications that can be deployed either on-premises or in the cloud, plus simple to manage connected services, Sage provides the best of both worlds.”

Connections are Key

What’s most important about Sage’s strategy is not just the expansion of cloud-delivered solutions, but their connected use. Direct links among systems amplify the power of the individual entities. Connections become the keys to maximizing return on investment for the new architecture.

In fact, every business already uses cloud services. Companies use external hosting for Web sites or email. What about software-as-a-service for marketing or human resources management? PC software is maintained automatically by Windows Update. Users search with Google and visit social networking sites for business purposes. All of the above are cloud services, and Connected Services aims to make Sage software behave similarly—like a single resource.

Sage partners and customers do not have to cede any ground on the validity of premise-based software as a continuing part of information technology’s future. Nowhere is the case for installed software more convincing than for ERP. Management of core financial data on which organizations rely is elegantly implemented and thoroughly vetted in ERP applications like Sage’s offerings. Rarely is anyone outside the company involved in updating or providing value-added services directly within the ERP system.

Business functions outside of ERP are a different story. Applications like payroll, e-commerce and supply chain EDI require direct interaction with external entities such as banks, customers, suppliers, shippers and regulators. Frequent changes driven by all these relationships means constant updating and tuning of connections.  These very characteristics make external-facing tasks perfect candidates for cloud services, which eliminate the maintenance obstacle while delivering targeted functionality.

Benefits for Providers and Partners

Early beneficiaries of Sage’s new strategy are companies that utilize the cloud to access high-value, managed services. Providers of managed services are distinguished by their inclusion of expert people that drive processes – obviating the need for costly, dedicated, in-house specialists who are hard to find, train and retain. Managed services allow companies to outsource the complexity of tasks that distract them from their core missions, while consuming only the amount of service needed. Linking managed services to Sage ERP eliminates delays and errors inherent in manual transcription, extracting the full measure of benefit from Connected Services.

The best Sage ERP solution providers are already adept at helping clients choose and implement the optimal mix of software, software-as-a-service, and managed services to fit their requirements. Most importantly, no pioneering is required. Successful, profitable combinations of cloud services and Sage ERP are working for many businesses right now. Connected Services is more than just a catch phrase—it defines a real way to leverage the best in contemporary information technology.

Download a reprint of this article here:  Integrating Connected Services with Sage ERP

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