Softline, a provider of business management software to small and medium sized companies, today announced that after months of planning they will be rebranding and will be referred to as Sage South Africa, effective immediately. Softline is the holding company for prominent South African software products such as Pastel Accounting and Payroll, VIP Payroll, Sage 300 ERP (Accpac) and Sage ERP X3. Softline joined the Sage Group plc in 2003 after delisting from the JSE and is the central team of the Africa, Australia, Middle East and Asia (AAMEA) region, a grouping of territories headed by Softline co-founder and CEO of Sage AAMEA Ivan Epstein.
The Sage Group plc, a FTSE 100 company, is a leading global provider of business management software to SMEs with over 6.5 million customers in 24 countries. Epstein attributes the rebranding in South Africa to the alignment with Softline’s parent company, The Sage Group plc. in the continued pursuit of a global brand. “Softline has been part of The Sage Group plc for many years and over this time we have continued to grow in prominence. To move forward we believe that it is now time to leverage the global power of The Sage Group and align ourselves fully with the brand.”
Softline was founded in 1988 by Ivan Epstein, Alan Osrin and soon after joined by Steven Cohen. The company was established in the formative years of the business software industry in South Africa, and soon became a leader in the provision of business software and services to SMEs. The move to Sage will bring about name changes across all of the divisions including Sage VIP (formerly Softline VIP), Sage ERP Africa (formerly Softline ACCPAC), Sage Pastel (formerly Softline Pastel) and Sage Netcash (formerly Softline Netcash) as well as the newest edition to the stable, Sage Alchemex (formerly Alchemex). “Our current and future customers will continue to enjoy the benefits of our locally and globally developed products that they have come to know and trust, whilst this alignment creates further opportunities to leverage global insights and collaboration.”
Epstein says that while the company’s branding will change, it is business as usual for Sage South Africa. “Our continued vision in South Africa, and globally, is to be recognised as the most valuable supporter of small and medium sized companies, by creating greater freedom for them to succeed,” says Epstein. “This vision supports the path of providing local expertise and leadership combined with global learnings and experience of Sage.”
Most BI thought leadership articles these days include a fairly significant section on mobile data consumption, and how trends are heading in this direction. The predictions from analysts suggest that by 2013, as much as 33% of business intelligence functionality will be consumed via handheld devices.
This inherently sets out to challenge the thinking of traditional BI vendors in terms of how their solutions become relevant in the mobile space. It can be tempting to re-invent the wheel in an effort to lead the charge with something really cool, something that demo’s well, without carefully thinking about what device the majority of customers are likely to use, and how they will consume or interact with the data on this device, and of course, what makes practical sense to add value to their day to day operations and decision making.
Vendors need to understand their customers’ needs implicitly before investing in a mobility strategy so that the right type of information is staged for a particular device, and that the right device is used for that purpose, otherwise it just becomes another useless trend/fad that doesn’t really serve its purpose.
Another key consideration is whether to create an interactive proprietary app that is native to a specific device, or to stage static data to the cloud that can be consumed agnostically on a wide variety of mobile devices. In most cases the former provides a richer user experience, but is this practical in light of how fast the mobile device market is moving?
One could argue, at this stage of the game, that 80% of consumer needs are satisfied by staging static data via the cloud because it is so much more than what they are accustomed to getting anyway. The reason I say this is that in my experience in providing BI solutions to SMB customers over the last decade, I have seen that sophistication sells, but very seldom does it get implemented to the same degree. Sad but true.
Softline part of The Sage Group plc and leading provider of business management software to SME’s, has acquired business intelligence technology company Alchemex.
What is Alchemex?
Alchemex provides affordable and flexible excel-based business intelligence software for SME’s. It bridges the gap between Excel spreadsheets and the data that lives in the business application, by providing flexible, customer centric reporting. Businesses require timeous and quality information delivered in an easily understood and usable format. Alchemex fulfils this need. It can be deployed on either the desktop or the internet allowing real-time access to data from anywhere in the world.
Software Synergy for SME’s
The synergies between the businesses of Softline and Alchemex are readily apparent; the Alchemex business intelligence solution is a natural extension of Softline’s business applications; it serves the same market as Softline, being predominantly SMEs; and it affords existing and future users of Softline applications a greater breadth of service offering, under a single banner.
Better, Together: Quality, affordable SME business software
In a competitive market value-added offerings such as business intelligence are necessary to grow market share. Companies have a real need for an affordable tool such as Alchemex in order achieve a higher level of clarity in their business, to make better decisions and to become more profitable.
Charles Teversham, Managing Director of Alchemex South Africa comments, “Our strategy has been to align our product with the major accounting vendors so as to leverage their customer base. Being a market leader, Softline has therefore played a crucial role in our growth and was a natural home for Alchemex. We are very excited to be part of Softline and the wider Sage Group and look forward to working together to help SMEs get even more value and insight from their business software.”
Alchemex is a leading developer, enabler and support provider of affordable Excel-based Business Intelligence software for small to mid-market enterprises.
For over 25000 registered users in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America, Alchemex’s reporting software provides immediate insight into meaningful information from across your business, delivering automated financial, payroll and management reports in the familiar environment of Microsoft® Excel®. The reports can be accessed at any time and are fully customizable with drill-down capabilities, allowing for enhanced collaboration and decision-making.
Alchemex integrates with leading accounting and payroll packages, pulling real-time data directly from the database, thereby eliminating manual report preparation and repetitive data extracts. Alchemex powers the Pastel Business Intelligence Centre for Pastel Evolution, Pastel Partner, Pastel Payroll and Pastel Xpress, Sage ERP Accpac Intelligence, Sage ERP MAS Intelligence for Sage ERP MAS 90-200 and Sage ERP MAS 500, Sage Peachtree Business Intelligence, Sage Simply Accounting Intelligence, Sage PFW ERP Intelligence, VIP Payroll’s Business Intelligence Manager.