Sage X3 Launches in Russia and Austria. Sage who?

Actually Sage X3 launched in these two markets back in November 2010, but recent wins and partnerships underscore the global nature of the offering. If you travel around the major cities in Europe you will find Sage to be quite well-known. Not so much in North America. At Sage’s recent North American Analyst Day, all of the top execs that were present lamented this anonymity, most specifically Pascal Houillon, CEO Designate selected to replace Sue Swenson, current President and CEO of Sage North America when she retires later this year. In moving from France to California, he has been constantly reminded of this challenge of awareness both personally and professionally. His goal – make sure those that see him in the grocery store know who and what Sage does.
The stats from the most recent launch of Sage ERP X3 v6 in January 2010 signal X3 is indeed gaining traction. In the last twelve months Sage reports:
  • 300 new customers have adopted Sage ERP X3
  • the total number of X3 customers worldwide numbers in excess of 3,000
  • Sage ERP X3 is now available in 53 countries
So why do so few people know who Sage (a $2.24 billion company) is? Why don’t they think of Sage when they think of the top ERP players? First of all, Sage is not just an ERP company. The company also sells accounting, CRM, Payment Solutions, Healthcare EHR and practice management and more. So that $2.24 billion is not all ERP sales. But it does have 3 different ERP solutions including MAS, X3 and Accpac with more than 165,000 users worldwide.
Part of this identity crisis results from Sage having grown largely through acquisition and having preserved many of the brands along the way. In fact, Sage ERP X3, until the last couple of years, was known as Adonix X3. Whenever I talk with a company that is acquiring another company, one of the first questions I ask is about preserving the brand. Changing names is hard, especially when there is a significant amount of brand equity in the name.
I went through those same decisions back in the mid-90’s when CA bought ASK. The CA management wanted to lose the MANMAN name. The problem was, everyone “knew” MANMAN even though hardly anyone “knew” ASK. So my advice to CA management was, you can change the name, but people will always call it MANMAN (today MANMAN is Infor ERP MANMAN). Sage had a similar situation with MAS and Accpac (acquired from CA, by the way) and therefore the prefixing of MAS and Accpac with Sage ERP is the logical solution to introduce the Sage brand while preserving the brand equity of these two solutions. But getting staff and customers to call them anything but Accpac and MAS is a constant struggle. Old habits die hard. But Sage had the opposite situation with X3. Adonix was more well-known than X3 and Sage allowed Adonix to operate as a subsidiary, preserving the Adonix name, for several years.
So I am afraid Mr. Houillon is going to have to continue to work very hard to get the same level of name recognition here in North America that he enjoyed in Europe. But in a market where name recognition is paramount to market awareness, it is certainly worth the effort.
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