Sage logoAhead of announcing their half-year results this week, it appears that the biggest software company in the UK is finally preparing to go up against SaaS offerings from MYOB, Intuit, Microsoft and others.

Sage is a titan of the UK software scene but has struggled recently, both with expansion beyond Europe and (like others) with shifting their business toward a hosted capability.

According to Duane Jackson of competitor KashFlow (also picked up by Dennis Howlett and Ben Kepes at CloudAve), Sage are only weeks away from rolling out SageLive;

“On a laptop tucked away in a quite corner I spied a program running in a web browser with the title “SageLive Beta”. I got chatting to the guy demonstrating it (without saying who I am). He confirmed it’s their newest product, in development for 18 months and due for release in January. Until now they’ve tried to keep it under wraps. I commented that it seemed to be a new approach for Sage to develop a product from scratch rather than acquire an existing company. They were obviously very proud of what they’d achieved and rightly so.”

This is interesting, but I’m intrigued to understand more about why Sage were showing this ‘in a quiet corner’ at a big trade show? Is the product still ‘under wraps’? If it is, why on earth was it there for the competition to oggle? And if it’s not, why aren’t they talking about it? Maybe Duncan Hawes, Development Manager for the product, would like to set the record straight?

Duane suggests that SageLive is ‘posting to a Sage 50 database in the backend,’ which (if I understand correctly) means they’re limiting the reach of the new offering to just the UK because of the data structures used in that particular product line. If true, this would seem something of a missed opportunity for alignment of the company’s confused product mish-mash.

It would also be interesting to have a lot more information about the target audience for this product; small businesses, medium businesses, big corporations? And is it an alternative for existing customers, part of a drive to acquire competitors’ customers, or an attempt to address pockets of non-consumption?

Come on Duncan; tell us what you’re building up there in Newcastle. I drove past your building on Sunday, too. If only I’d known this then, I could have popped in for a chat!

Update 3/12/2008 – The Financial Times reports on Sage’s results…

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