Guest Post from Lauren McKay, CRM Magazine

What I’m expecting at Sage Summit 2009…

No gimmicks: Lofty announcements and competitor thrashing is not Sage’s style. Unlike some other CRM companies (cough, cough, Oracle and Salesforce.com) that center user conferences around huge product announcements and (often irrelevant) guest appearances, Sage seems to focus its efforts on communicating with users where the company stands and where it plans to be in the near future. Last year’s Summit was a time when many were just beginning to feel the weight of the economy. For many attendees, making the trip to Denver was hard on the wallet. This year, I am anticipating the number of attendees to be up as companies look to make the most out of their software investments and come out stronger through the end of the recession and into 2010.

Actionable insight about social CRM: Last year David van Toor and Larry Ritter delved into Sage’s social vision and what users can look forward to with regard to social CRM. With the September release of ACT! 2010 and its strong social elements, I am expecting to hear positive feedback from customers. Instead of customers thinking about dipping a toe in social apps, I’m anticipating them wanting to do more. They’ll be asking questions along the lines of “How do I expand my social efforts in other parts of my organization?” rather than “What is this social media stuff and what does it mean for my business?” I think the learning curve with social CRM will be noticeably higher. It’s still immature, but rather than having to sell users on the premise, I think Sage will be having the conversation of how to now use social to improve CRM ROI.

More clarity around cloud computing: During Sage Insights Partner conference in the spring, Sage executives brought forward the company’s cloud computing plans which involve running on Amazon’s EC2 cloud. Press and analysts may have gotten it, and maybe a handful of forward-thinking partners, but the Sage CRM team knew that making the cloud computing roadmap clear would be a big effort. Sage has taken noticeable steps to educate partners and now customers about its cloud computing capabilities. They realize that this shift takes time – and I expect that they will continue upon the notion that there’s no rush to get customers to the cloud. If customers want to stay on premise, great. If they want to make the transition, Sage will help them when the time is right.

Hospitality: I’m especially looking forward to the relaxed, friendly environment that’s typical of Sage Summit. I look forward to seeing users connect over commonalities and shared goals. I’m also excited to be in the Atlanta and soak up some good old southern hospitality – and maybe even some fried chicken.

Lauren McKay

Assistant Editor

CRM magazine

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