Sage, the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, payroll & HR, and payment systems, underlined its strong commitment to future technologies this week, with a focus on solutions that move business builders closer to a future of invisible admin at Sage Summit Tour in Africa and Middle East at the Sandton Convention Centre.
Sage spoke about how all Sage products will be connected to the cloud, with new mobile, social, chatbot and IoT (Internet of Things) offerings in the pipeline for the entire product portfolio. It also highlighted a vision to empower business builders around the world to automate back-office functions, where accounting is invisible.
Sage used the Sage Summit Tour to discuss key product launches and developments. These include Sage Live, Sage One Payroll in East Africa and West Africa, the Sage X3 Fast Start configuration and more. Users got to see new technology in action, such as Pegg, the smart bot from Sage that helps you to track and manage expenses. These technologies allow businesses to automate processes, improve efficiency and become more agile.
“We want to enable entrepreneurs and business builders to spend less time on admin and more time on growing their businesses, developing innovative products and interacting with their customers,” said Anton van Heerden, managing director and executive vice-president, Africa & Middle East at Sage. “Using the latest cloud technologies, we are focusing on addressing the immediate challenges our customers are facing today.”
In his keynote speech, Sage CEO Stephen Kelly, outlined a bold vision for a world of invisible accounting, powered by the cloud, bots and mobile technology. “Artificial intelligence is the game changer for the next decade. Technology has made accounting business solutions much smarter, with admin capabilities that manage your business, enabling you to get on with your business and follow your dreams," he said.
A panel discussion on the future of work saw industry experts explore the implications of automation alongside Sage experts. The accelerating pace of change and innovation means humans face an uncertain future and participants debated the challenges and opportunities this presents to leaders and organisations. Panel moderator Vincent Hofmann, Director of Inquisition, concluded that while automation will surely replace many of the routine tasks that we do at work there is a case for optimism: new industries, new jobs will be created and people will be encouraged to refocus their time on creative problem solving and deriving more fulfilment from work. The recording of the discussion will be available next week as a podcast in Sage’s Invisible Admin podcast series.
Other speakers at the conference also issued a clarion call for digital transformation to businesses in Africa and the Middle East. “Don't be a digital dinosaur. Never use the phrase "in my day". If you're alive, it's your day,” said Nick Goode, executive vice president, Product Management at Sage.
Justin Spratt, head of Business, Sub-Saharan Africa at Uber and Luke McKend, country director at Google South Africa both highlighted how growing connectivity are disrupting the world and creating new entrepreneurial opportunities. "We need to take advantage of the fact that we’re more connected than ever, all the time,” said McKend, while Spratt pointed out that there will be mobile penetration of 90% by the end of 2017.
To thrive in this environment, every business should see itself as a tech company, said Gil Oved, co-founder and co-CEO of The Creative Counsel. "Those who are crazy and brave enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who actually do,” he added.
“Technologies such as the cloud, mobility and artificial intelligence are all unlocking innovation, driving better performance and helping the region’s businesses to become more competitive,” said Van Heerden. “Sage will provide business builders with “invisible accounting” so they can focus on following their visions and changing the world.”