AventiaNews January 2013
08/01/2013 |
We need to build a business community based on innovative and competitive services
Andreu Vilamitjana, General Manager Small to Medium Business at Sage
Andreu Vilamitjana - SageSage is a global leader in enterprise software for SMEs. What are your competitive advantages in this market segment? And what are your future challenges in maintaining this market position?

Our main competitive advantage is that our business focus is centred on this segment. This means we are very familiar with its needs and requirements and can deliver an appropriate response in each case. We can also mentor SMEs right from start-up and as they grow by providing them with the solutions and services that are best suited to their business lifecycle. No other company in our industry has this responsiveness.

Another of Sage’s competitive advantages is that it develops its core products in Spain and has a presence in the country’s major cities, so we can react quickly to the needs of the Spanish market.

Our future challenges are to remain faithful to this strategy while building in innovation and appropriate technology to deliver ever-increasing value in ever more competitive environments.

What is Sage’s share of the enterprise software market in Spain? What its growth strategy?

Our market share is very good owing to Sage’s acquisitions in Spain over the last few years which have mainly involved buying companies that are leaders in their market segments. To this must be added the development of new technologies for improving our portfolio of solutions and the addition of other products that set the standard in other countries in which the Group operates and are also proving very popular in our market. Part of our growth strategy is geared towards this.

In today’s market with economic conditions marked by the credit crunch, how is Sage helping its customers to purchase solutions?

At Sage we have been offering our customers a number of alternatives for more than two years to make it easier for them to buy management solutions. We have invested over €23 million in assistance for buying enterprise software which has benefited about 30,000 companies.

Cloud solutions still account for very little of Sage’s operations at less than 10% of the total. How will you promote this business?

According to our forecasts, which are shared by IDC and Gartner, 2013 is going to be the year when cloud computing really takes off in Spain, focused primarily on the model of Software as a Service (SaaS). Furthermore, SMEs are going to start using cloud solutions in a big way. And going hand-in-hand with cloud computing is mobility, as they are two complementary technologies. This will be a growth opportunity for software companies specialising in mobility and apps. Sage is one of them.

Sage is working on several projects, some of them worldwide (such as the one recently signed with Microsoft to bring some of our solutions apps to the Windows 8 Market Place) which will increase that 10% figure. The ERP market will consolidate in the cloud since in spite of the current economic climate, companies will see it as one of their main investment priorities because it improves the competitiveness and efficiency of company management. Furthermore, if the economic crisis has had one “positive” outcome it is that SMEs, when they find out about the savings offered by cloud solutions, are beginning to overcome their initial reluctance and are increasingly embracing ERP in the cloud. We already have over 500 customers working with "SaaS" accounting applications and more than 800 customers, with 2,500 users, with ERP in the cloud.

Constant and efficient innovation is crucial in the apps market. What are Sage’s main innovation areas?

Innovation is a big priority at Sage. It means being passionate about seeking out and developing new ideas and possibilities and exploring and finding new ways of doing things. 8% of our turnover is earmarked for R&D spending. We have over 240 professionals in Sage’s R&D team in Spain based at 6 research centres (Madrid, Sabadell, Ávila, Mollerusa, Écija and Mérida).

After rising steadily in the previous 15 years, in 2009 Spanish R&D spending fell for the first time down to €14.58 billion. This decline was due to lower business spending (especially in capital investment) which dropped by 6.3% in 2009 according to the latest COTEC report on technology and innovation in Spain in 2011. The same happened in 2010, when there was a 1.7% decline in R&D spending and a 2.4% fall in business spending.

Given these figures and the crisis we are going through at present, we need to build a business community based on innovative and competitive services. Research, development and innovation (R&D&I) will have to play the role that all operators believe it should have, namely being the driving force and engine of a new production model that supports business economic development on solid foundations.

The areas we are innovating in at the moment are mostly about developing cloud environments. Our cloud strategy is based on two areas: firstly what we call Online Business Solutions or SaaS solutions, and secondly putting all the company’s ERP in the cloud.

What is Sage’s forecast for business and margins in Spain in 2013, whether in terms of contraction or at most remaining stable?

As a company listed on the London Stock Exchange FTSE 100 we do not anticipate growth. However, our portfolio of products, which are well tailored to the current economic situation, means that we can be optimistic.

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