Sage moves to fill mid-market hole with new product

26 Feb 2004

Sage, the accounting software titan, is pinning its hopes on a new product that will fill the gap between its thriving small business market and the enterprise end of its business. The new product, MMS (Mid Market Solution), was launched this morning at a special business partner event in Dublin.

Speaking at the launch, Liam Mullaney, managing director of Sage Ireland, said MMS would be “very much our flagship product” that “raises us up a number of notches into the mid market.”

He noted that although Sage had about 40,000 SME customers in Ireland, most of these were small businesses using low-end products such as Tas Books, Sage Line 50 and Take Five. There were also a sizeable number of enterprise customers using Sage Line 500. In the middle were a relatively small group of mid-market customers using Sage Line 100. It is primarily these businesses that Sage would be looking to convert to MMS, he said.

In firmly planting its flag in the mid-market space, Sage will be competing against the likes of Pegasus, Exchequer, Microsoft Great Plains and SAP Business One.

Stuart Lynn, head of MMS development, said that the new product differs significantly from the existing Line 100 product. In addition to all the usual bookkeeping elements, MMS contains a number of new supply chain modules such as sales order processing, purchase order processing and stock control. Another new feature being trumpeted by Sage is called ‘transactional email’, which allows XML-based messages to be sent to customers or suppliers to raise an order to send an invoice. Being XML based, the message can be read by third party applications such as SAP and Oracle.

MMS is the first Sage product to be based on Microsoft’s .Net web services platform, allowing MMS to be easily integrated into a whole range of third party applications. This should increase its appeal within vertical markets such as manufacturing and logistics.

According to Lynn, Sage spent many months designing the user interface to ensure that customers would find it both easy to use and relevant to their businesses. “We found, for example, that 80 to 90pc of order entries were simple, so we asked ourselves, why complicate the order entry process? As a result MMS includes a rapid order entry page as well as a more complicated one for full order entry.”

Lynn added that existing Line 50 and Line 100 customers would be able to “seamlessly upgrade” to MMS – ie, without any data re-entry – while TAS Books customers would be able to do so in the near future.

Elaborating on the intended target market for MMS, Mullaney said it although it was being pitched at the 50-plus customer level, MMS could also suit much smaller and much larger businesses. “I have a problem with people trying to pigeonhole software into company sizes; it depends on how the software works and on how complex the business is,” he said.

He expected MMS sales would be split evenly between existing customers migrating from other Sage products, principally Line 100, and new customers.

He added that MMS would be backed by a major advertising campaign, second only in size to the huge euro campaign run by the company three years ago.

Sage MMS costs €5,000 for a single-user licence, €8,215 for a four-user licence and €12,500 for an eight-user licence.

By Brian Skelly